When the Outside Doesn’t Match the Inside: Bipolar Disorder

You feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster – instead it’s going in slow motion, the lows are REALLY low, and the highs…MAN are they exhilarating. During those highs, you have so much energy. Even with little to no sleep, you feel like you can tackle anything and everything. You seek excitement in this euphoric state, often recklessly leading to chaos, like extreme financial decisions and sexually irresponsible behavior. That doesn’t take away from your elevated self-esteem and abnormally increased goal-directed activity. You begin one new project after another, leaving your unfinished creation in the dust as your racing mind pulls you through a tunnel of never-ending ideas. You talk nonstop, maybe in an eccentric manner – others can’t get a word in, but you can’t help yourself. You get a high from entertaining. During this stage, you may feel the extreme urge to reach out to strangers and old friends, not realizing that they may find your sudden insertion in their lives intrusive. None of the consequences get you down – you get all your work done and still have energy for more, you feel that your social life is flourishing, you’re filled with excitement for all the new, extreme goals you’ve created for yourself, and above all, you feel invincible. You soak it up in the week/s that it lasts, because you know that at some point, you inevitably crash. All that confidence you had a month ago seeped from your veins almost in an instant. It feels like your body used up all of its’ energy, and you’re sluggishly moping around, absolutely exhausted no matter how much sleep you get, wanting to look for that hope for the goals you so effortlessly created, but not even having the motivation to do that. Even the simplest of tasks now seems exhausting, when previously, you felt like you could climb a mountain during your lunch break. Your “life of the party” attitude has now turned into isolation, your friends wondering where their carefree partner in crime has vanished to. You downheartedly reap the repercussions of your reckless behavior you engaged in during the weeks or months prior, guiltily wondering how you could be so foolish. This only depletes your sense of self-worth even more. You are overwhelmed with insecurity and sense of instability in your body, feeling trapped by this seemingly never-ending cycle. You long for “normal” – some form of middle ground. You feel like you’ve achieved  balance here and there, although it never lasts. Maybe you begin to think to yourself that you can’t do the unpredictability anymore – that you just want an escape.

Bipolar l Disorder separates itself from Bipolar ll Disorder by severity – Bipolar l is characterized by severe manic episodes that significantly disrupt your life. Bipolar ll consists of a lesser form of mania (hypermanic episodes), and both consist of major depressive episodes. We’ve all heard the “wow your moods switch so fast, you must be bipolar” – two things on this: first, in reality, these episodes cycle over weeks or months at a time, with only rare cases displaying rapid shifts in mood (called libility), and two – you are NOT your diagnosis. If you resonate with this, you may HAVE Bipolar Disorder. You arenot Bipolar.

Causes:

  • The most consistent, strongest predictor is genetic – having a family history of BPD is the highest risk factor.

Finding Relief:

To find relief from the ups and downs – try to understand triggers, signs of an upcoming episode, and what coping mechanisms work for you. Journal daily with these questions in mind: What do I feel in my body? What is circling through my mind? What stressed me out today? What made me feel better today? – this will lead you to identify patterns. Once you have a heightened sense of awareness of what’s going on inside of your body, you can begin to regain control.

Those who have Bipolar Disorder are 15x higher at risk of suicide – seek help. You can find further relief through psychotherapy. Call Amy Wine Counseling Center to schedule an appointment. Together, we can #endthestigma

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