Bipolar Disorder

“Bipolar disorder is a challenge but it can set you up to be able to do almost anything else in your life.”
-Carrie Fisher

For as long as I can remember, my personal battle with mental health has always been centered on depression. And while that certainly doesn’t imply a lack of knowledge about other common disorders such as anxiety and bipolarism, I always read accounts on those subjects a bit nonchalantly.

Call it pride or call it arrogance but very often I’d read articles about a particular mental illness that I don’t deal with and say to myself, “At least I don’t have THAT.”

It wasn’t until I recently started reading an advance copy of a memoir by someone with a bipolar disorder that I wondered for the first time in my life, if I’m bipolar.

Let’s start with the basics. What does it mean to be bipolar?

Medically, it means you go through a range of emotions in a relatively short period of time, sometimes triggered and at other times, ostensibly out of nowhere. It’s mood swings that are more extreme than usual and much more rapid.

Much like depression, within the bipolar disorder sphere, there are hundreds of different symptoms and causations. Behavior patterns, triggers, actions, etc can all vary person to person.

And with like other mental illnesses, treatment varies and at times, is known to be highly controversial. Many claim medication for bipolarism (just like for depression or anxiety) is nothing but another tool to add to the rapidly growing opioid epidemic.

As I was reading the memoir (of which an agreement I signed doesn’t allow me to say the name at this point) there were so many incidents the author described that I could relate to, all stemming from mental illnesses.

From extreme anger resulting in self deconstruction to drowing in my own tears, I’ve experienced all the emotions the author went through.

And yet, I’ve always chalked it up to depression. It genuinely made me wonder if I’ve dealt with a bipolar disorder before and just not known it.

Both bipolarism and depression have been known to interlink often and many have been officially diagnosed with Bipolar Depression.

After reading the book, one thing kept reiterating in my mind that is universal to everyone no matter which mental illness is predominant: Get checked out.

Self-diagnosis is never enough and always needs to be supplemented by a professional.

And the other thing to remember is whether you’re bipolar or have any other mental illness, life doesn’t have to stop.

The memoir’s author ultimately emerged victorious from a dark place and is in a very content space right now.

Have you ever felt a range of mood swings in a short period? If so, did it lead to a hypothesis of a bipolar disorder or was it just “one of those days?” Share your thoughts and experiences.

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