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Happy World Bipolar Day

Bipolar is a mood disorder characterised by periods of intense mood episodes.

Generally Bipolar mood swings last several months at a time, and rapid cycling Bipolar is characterised as someone who has 4 or more mood swings in one year. The idea that people with bipolar are constantly up and down, with moods changing many times a day, is generally untrue and more associated with other conditions, eg Borderline Personality Disorder.

The mood episodes caused by bipolar disorder are not ‘just’ feeling happy and sad, although that is a common mistake.

People with bipolar 2 have episodes of major depression and hypomania. People with Bipolar 1 have episodes of major depression, hypomania and mania.

Some people only experience mood episodes when they have experienced a ‘trigger’, whereas other people can recognise triggers that cause episodes, but are also hit out the blue. Common triggers for mood episodes are:

  • Late nights (eg. going out to a party)
  • Lack of sleep
  • Bright lights (eg shopping centres) or busy city centres
  • Chaotic life events, from losing a loved one to Christmas
  • Physical illness

What do these feel like, if they aren’t just being happy / sad?

Major Depression

This is far, far more than feeling sad. It’s having no energy to do anything, and spending days in bed because you can’t force yourself to get up, eat or shower. It’s feeling entirely hopeless, thinking there is nothing to live for, and everybody would be better off if you were dead.

It’s crying for hours every day, or feeling too empty and disconnected to cry, and so you just lie and stare up at the ceiling, wondering if you’re already dead. 

It’s planning how you would kill yourself, to the very last detail. It’s trying to kill yourself.

Hypomania

Hypomania is feeling a rush of energy, confidence, creativity and power. It’s thinking you are the best at everything, and that everything you think or say is amazing. It’s not sleeping for nights on end. It’s getting frustrated when people don’t agree with your outlandish ideas.

Some people experience a feeling of elation with hypomania, whilst others feel incredibly irritated. Hypomania often includes visible changes, such as talking super fast, darting from one subject to another, and being unable to sit still.

Mania

Mania is the same as hypomania, but cranked up. People can usually continue a ‘normal’ routine with hypomania (eg. going shopping, to school, work etc), albeit with difficulty, but mania will smash that routine to pieces.

When I am manic, my sleep is reduced to practically nothing. I will sleep 3-4 hours a night, for weeks on end. My appetite will be non-existent, I can’t concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds at a time, and I’ll think all my ideas are genius. I’ll go on huge spending sprees (or would if my partner didn’t take control of spends!!), and instead of buying things I want / need, I’ll buy things that are most expensive. Before we knew how to deal with manic episodes, I would often leave us virtually penniless. I try get jobs, create my own business, sign up to university. Before I experienced psychosis outside of a mood episode, manic episodes were also when I would hallucinate.

Bipolar disorder is a very individualistic illness, it can vary so much from person to person.

Some people with bipolar experience a mood swing every few years, and are able to lead fairly ‘normal’ lives. Others swing from one episode to another, and are ravaged by the illness.

Treatment generally relies on medication, at least in the UK, although a two-pronged attack of medication and behavioural therapies works best. Medications range from mood stabilisers (including anti-epileptic drugs) to anti-psychotics and anti-depressants. There is controversy on whether or not ADs actually help those with bipolar.

Different medications work for different people, and all carry a range of potential side effects. For some people with treatment resistant bipolar disorder, they will try a vast number of medications with barely any improvement in their illness.

Bipolar disorder is an incredibly hard illness to live with, and today is dedicated to spreading awareness and smashing stigma.

Please excuse if this post is crappily written, I’m living off very minimal sleep for the past week, am full of cold and have had a rough day for seizures.

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Blinded by depression

I’ve been sapped into a huge depressive black hole.

The depression has consumed me for the past few weeks, and it shows no sign of abating. There are a few little chunks over in this post on my other blog, if anybody is interested.

A lot of Spoonies have been sharing these to try end stigma and fight the shame. Here is mine.

I’m sharing some colouring from the past year. No words needed.

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Something to remember

I saw this today and found it immensely helpful, so reposting.

You are not ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ if you:

  • Have low to no empathy
  • Have hyper empathy
  • Have a personality disorder
  • Have more than one person in your mind
  • Have scary / violent thoughts
  • Can’t take a shower or brush your teeth very often
  • Don’t have the energy to interact with people everyday
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manic

I. CAN’T. SIT. STILL.

This has come out the blue I ahven’t been manic in so damn long and yep the last few months have been really stressful and this week has been really really stressful, but really, I haven’t been manic 8in so long so what the hell?!

This week one of our dogs was killed which was awful obviously. Yesterday I took my assistanc dog in training to a puppy obedience class, our first time, went with my partner of course…first time I’ve been actually outr in public in nmonths and months, and I guess that combined with grievbeing = manic me.

My partner’s podcasting and there has never been anything as hard as trying to hold rthis energy in

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Depression, replaced with what?

That awful, all-encompassing depression has gone.

I don’t know what it’s left me with. I can’t tell if I’m manic until I’m really manic, flying high, and my partner’s kinda the same. If I’m hypomanic right now, it’s weak, I can’t tell 😛

I’m hella irritable, I have a decent amount of energy and motivation, and when I’m not flying off the walls in a rage things are going okay. Psychosis still a major issue, but it always is and I don’t count that as an indicator of mood.

I’ve got more things done with my pets today than I did in five days of depression. It’s crazy quite how much your energy levels and capabilities change with your moods. That’s something I wish more people understood.

I wish I could swallow or erase the irritability. It’s SO HARD (read:impossible) to contain it, and it ruins everything around me. I feel so damn sorry for my partner >__<

I get scared whenever I feel like this, I feel like I’m totally ruining our relationship and he’ll stop loving me.

You could argue this is ridiculous, he understands it’s an illness, he’s stuck by me through harder times yadda yadda yadda…that’s true, but it doesn’t mean my symptoms don’t wear him down over time. A bit of irritability might not seem a big deal, but it shows itself as hatred and lashing out verbally, and that’s awful.

On top of that he never gets any respite. I never have okay days, so he never gets any relief. I hate myself for what I put him through.

It’s tough, but we adore each other…that has to count for something.

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Unwell in every way

Uuuuugh.

Alongside bipolar fun, I’ve been feeling crappy physically too recently.

I’ve had a lot of migraines and a lot of neck and back ache (which usually happens daily in a depressive episode but I haven’t been depressed recently!), and then today was the icing on the cake.

I’m sleeping more atm (12 hours up from 8-9 hours). At the beginning of this week I had a two day migraine, which left me in so much pain I couldn’t do anything.

Ever since that I’ve had ear ache in my left ear and just felt really tired. Then today I woke up with a really sore neck which leeched into a headache.

Since early morning I’ve had a really bad allergic reaction ALL DAY to something in the house…I should add I don’t really have any allergies, I’ve tested allergic to tree pollen but nothing else. We don’t have any trees in our house haha and nothing’s changed over the past few weeks, yet today my body is claiming I am allergic to everything in the house. Outside I’m better, little snuffly-sneezy but nothing like inside.

This seems to happen with me, every other month or so I have a day or two where allergies cripple me and I don’t know why.

So all day today I’ve been sneezing, big painful sneezes with a tickley throat, nose and itchy eyes. The sneezes result in a bloody nose and a very sore throat. 24/7 irritation is awful and I feel sorry for people who have allergies this bad daily!!

I feel absolutely exhausted. Totally drained. My head is all muggy like when you have a cold and I still have ear ache. I ended up sleeping until early afternoon so I’ve only been up 8 hours and I’m knackered and definitely ready for bed.

*sneeze*