I do not try to hide anything about myself. What you see is what you get. I say what is on my mind- most of the time. For some reason today, I feel the need to explain the following:
I have never hid my bipolar disorder from anyone. I would like for people to understand me and why I have my ups and downs. When I hear stories on the news about someone with “manic depression” going off the deep end, I cringe and think not everyone with this disease is like that! So let me tell you about me – I actually think that only my sister and my husband understand this- barely.
I was finally diagnosed bipolar when I was around 20, but knowing what I know now about the illness, I can see the signs as far back as 14 or 15. I was very lucky to have had the same doctor for many many years, who could follow my progress and was able to diagnose me. There are no blood tests or brain scans to find it.
There are different levels of the illness.
bipolar I causes repeat episodes of mania and depression. The depression may last for a little while or for months. The person could go back to feeling normal for a while, or go right into a manic episode
Those who have bipolar II experience depression just as in bipolar I. But the episodes of mania are not as bad(hypomania). People with bipolar II have more depressed than hypomanic episodes.
People with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder have at least four episodes of depression, mania, or both within a 12-month period. They may go directly from depression to mania, or they may have a short time lapse between the two moods. The mood swings are the same as with other types of bipolar, but the frequency of mood swings is what makes rapid-cycling bipolar disorder different from the other types.
Some with bipolar disorder may have mixed symptoms, in which depression and mania occur together. Symptoms include sadness, euphoria, and irritability. Other symptoms can include agitation, lack of sleep, appetite changes and, possibly, thoughts of suicide. This makes the disorder hard to treat and very frustrating to live with.
With bipolar disorder, you alternate between depression and mania. In between, you may return completely to normal or have some remaining symptoms. The extreme mood changes may come on suddenly or appear more slowly.
During a manic episode, you may be abnormally happy, energetic, or very irritable for a week or more. Initially, you may feel incredibly productive or creative. You may feel powerful and think there is nothing you can’t accomplish. But as a manic episode progresses, you may behave wildly and irresponsibly, spending a lot of money, getting involved in dangerous activities, and sleeping very little. You may also have a hard time functioning in your job and relationships.
After a manic episode, you may return to normal, or your mood may swing in the opposite direction and you may feel useless, hopeless, and extremely sad. When depressed, you may have trouble concentrating, remembering, and making decisions; have changes in your eating and sleeping habits; and you may lose interest in things you once enjoyed. Some people become suicidal or harm themselves during episodes of depression. Some feel as if they can’t move, care, or think.
Ok- those are the technicals of it. I have a combination of Bipolar II and rapid cycling, though I haven’t been truly manic in many many years – about 14. I have always been very lucky, I have NEVER been suicidal – I always joke I am afraid noone would come to my funeral, but really, how could anyone get better if they are dead?
Lately, I have been very “downy dumped”- I wouldn’t really say depressed. It is really hard to be this way, too. The lack of energy and motivation, as well as my short temper, make me very difficult to live with,I am sure. Everyone around me is always asking what’s wrong, and I rarely call anyone back home, because I don’t really feel like talking right now. This has gone on for months – ok- maybe years. In there, I have had a few bursts of ‘hypomania’ and that is nice, they just don’t happen often enough.
I have been through many many medications for this. I have had a lot of success with the mood stabilizer, but happy pills (anti-depressants) are another story. They work for a while and then they don’t.
I would just like to feel normal at some point, even just for a little while.
What is normal? Hmmm… Well, Camille has two little girls but still has the get up and go to run marathons and work and still keep house and take care of the girls. Kim has 5 kids and home schools 4 of them and still has energy to pull up her carpet and kitchen floor and put down tile. Denny has 5 kids, keeps a spotless house and still has time and energy to walk everyday and volunteer at the elementary school.
I have the energy to do the laundry (see previous blog) and every so often the motivation to iron a shirt or two.
So that is me. Really. I find out other things about this disorder all the time that kind of scare me. But I have a WONDERFUL ,PATIENT (at least with me) Husband, who is very understanding of all of my quirks – I am sure it can be a bit much to deal with sometimes…
Thanks for listening and not thinking I am crazy- I know it sounds like I am – but I’m not-just a little ‘off’ : )