Most of the time, you can’t just tell you’re bipolar because there’s so much more that plays into it outside of erratic mood swings. I was once told I had Major Depressive Disorder when in fact, it ended up being Bipolar II, which means 90% depressive episodes and give or take 10% manic episodes or feeling absolutely numb. It’s scary at times because I don’t even know what my brain is doing. It’s like “hey, I’m depressed for no fucking reason again. You shall remain this way for three weeks.” Then I’m depressed for no reason at all for three weeks and no matter how hard I try to push through it and just ‘make myself happy’ (which by the way, it isn’t THAT easy). Then out of nowhere, happy ass mania comes along and says “I’ll give you a mini break for like, a week. Maybe. If you’re good.” Then I’m all sunshine and rainbows and that is also frightening. It’s almost like “who am I?”
Then the cycle of back and forth continues and holds no answers as to when one will end and the other will start.
Did you know it only takes one documented manic episode to be considered Bipolar? I didn’t until I had been diagnosed. I explained in detail what I deal with daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. I had to get down to the raw, hard to talk about situations and emotions I feel to finally see some kind of light. It’s hard. It’s not ever easy talking to a stranger over Skype about your past, your present and how you constantly feel. Then they also want to throw you on a few different medications and it’s an endless cycle of “will this work or will it not?” So you go through a few until you find one that works (for a short period of time) and then they’ll up the dosage or give you something new until that one stops working. Yes, it’s not 100% medication that make you happy and sometimes you have to put in some effort too. However, this doesn’t mean you need to tell me constantly to make myself happy because if I could, I absolutely would. I don’t like feeling this way and I really don’t know anyone else who does either. Some people are by far much stronger than others in this aspect where they are able to go medication free and follow strict coping techniques. I envy those people. Not just because they can go without medications and live pretty much normal lives the way I do on medications. I envy them because I’ve tried it more than once and each time it hits harder and harder, so right now being med-free just isn’t an option.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar II last year and have since been on mission to figure everything out. Let me tell you, it’s been a difficult process. I document every mood I have, how I feel, what my weight is, whether it was a high or a low, any panic/anxiety attacks, and overall how I’ve been sleeping. Most of the time it’s a depressive episode and I either sleep way too much or way too little. I don’t think I can physically get enough sleep on my own. Plus I have nightmares most of the time so sleeping isn’t very high up on my list of things I love.
The first time anyone suggested to me that I was bipolar, I argued why I wasn’t. I didn’t have those mood swings everyone talks about and I was depressed most of the time. I never had very manic episodes, except three that I can remember. I figured it was just a relief from the depression for a few days until my brain decided to kick back into depressed mode. It wasn’t even in my radar of things that could possibly be wrong with me. Did you know that most mental illnesses are actually a genetic problem as well as a situational problem? That’s right. It can be passed down from parents to children.
When I have a manic episode, I feel on top of the world like nothing can bother me. I feel great most of the time and I have an unlimited supply of energy and motivation to be the absolute best I possibly could be. I love those episodes sometimes because I feel genuinely happy even though I know it will end.
I also get angry more easily than I’d like to admit. Not always a raging, fuming kind of angry. Just irritable. The tiniest things will send me into irritability, which then sometimes turns into anger. Things like tapping, loud breathing, popping of gum, people chewing with their mouths open, etc.
I am also an extremely impulsive being and this is probably my biggest flaw. For the longest time, I had a gambling problem (mind you, I’m only 24). I don’t think about things sometimes and just do them. Cutting my hair, giving myself another piercing (don’t worry, I pierced professionally so I know what I’m doing), spending a ton of money on others or on things I don’t need. This is one thing I can’t stand about myself so I’ve been working towards bettering myself as far as impulsive tendencies go. It’s hard sometimes, especially when I feel the burning desire to buy a ton of lottery tickets. Now, I limit myself to buying one a month with my boyfriend so we can play together. It takes the edge off of wanting to buy one because now I’ve associated it with playing a scratcher with my boyfriend, and I’d rather enjoy it with him instead of alone. Impulse control is hard but it is totally doable. I swear.
Just because I’m having a good day doesn’t mean I’m happy, and just because I’m having a bad day doesn’t mean I’m depressed. It can vary. Some depressive episodes do have reasonably good days just as manic episodes can potentially have some bad days. I always need to remind those I’m closest to, to always be patient with me. I don’t try to be this way and I wish I wasn’t. It’s a difficult way to live but I’ve managed for nineteen years on and off with all of this. I wish I could be societal normal as far as mental states go. For now, though, I’ll continue to break this cycle of manic and depressive as much as I can and keep moving forward.
Stay strong, friends. If you have any further questions about Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder/Schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, feel free to contact me via email and I’ll respond as soon as I can. I can also refer you to other pages with more information.
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please reach out for help. Call 1-800-273-8255 or text CONNECT to 741741.