Collected & Written By Jennifer Kiley
(The Diagnosis of Bipolar has been in My Mental Health Records for years but I only found out about it Weed Day 4/20/2011. Since then I have been having arguments with my psychiatrist regarding this diagnosis. She doesn’t believe it is true b/c I do not according to her exhibit the symptoms when she does my med check. She, also, told me that my last psychotherapist didn’t feel I had Bipolar. Yet, everyone else in my life, including my present Psychotherapist, my partner of over 35 years, and my primary care provider who meets with me once a month, believe and have witnessed my hypomania, mania, depression, mixed states and rapid cycling. I personally have experienced all of these states. Oh, I, also, should mention my irritable to rageful states and highly creative states. Am I Bipolar? My psychiatrist says that Complex-PTSD exhibit similar symptoms. That may be true but I beleive I have both of these diagnoses plus in addition several other DSM-IV dianoses. It is frustrating that my psychiatrist will not accept my argument. Her retort is: “Isn’t having Complex-PTSD enough?” Not if that is not a complete and accurate diagnosis. I have physical illnesses and I have brain illness, which are all connected to the body. If you have cancer, do you not want to receive treatment for it? Of course, the answer is yes. So, if you are Bipolar, do you not want that treated as well? Yes. I do not want the meds but would rather work through “talk therapy” & alternative methods to accept what comes with Bipolar. I enjoy the creative highs and experience the depressive lows and the feelings of suicidal thoughts. But I want to learn to control th behaviors and feelings.)
The following are Insights into Bipolar Disorder:
With added comments from myself.
Depression: I doubt completely my ability to do anything well. It seems as though my mind has slowed down and burned out to the point of being virtually useless<. [I am] haunt[ed]< with the total, the desperate hopelessness of it all<. Others say, “It’s only temporary, it will pass, you will get over it,” but of course they haven’t any idea of how I feel, although they are certain they do. If I can’t feel, move, think or care, then what on earth is the point?
Hypomania: At first when I’m high, it’s tremendous…ideas are fast… like shooting stars you follow until brighter ones appear< All shyness disappears, the right words and gestures are suddenly there…uninteresting people, things become intensely interesting. Sensuality is pervasive, the desire to seduce and be seduced is irresistible. Your marrow is infused with unbelievable feelings of ease, power, well-being, omnipotence, euphoria… you can do anything… but, somewhere this changes.
Mania: The fast ideas become too fast and there are far too many< overwhelming confusion replaces clarity… you stop keeping up with it &memory goes. Infectious humor ceases to amuse. Your friends become frightened…everything is now against the grain< you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and trapped.
Some people, however, never develop severe mania but instead experience milder episodes of hypomania that alternate with depression; this form of the illness is called bipolar II disorder. When 4 or more episodes of illness occur within a 12-month period, a person is said to have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. Some people experience multiple episodes within a single week, or even within a single day. Rapid cycling tends to develop later in the course of illness and is more common among women.
My Experience with Bipolar:
I experience all of the above and with my depression it goes into a deep dark place where suicidal ideations always eventually come into my mind in an almost obsessive manner and dwelling on the thoughts of how I will kill myself. Along with the feeling of wanting to commit suicide the strong need and wanting to perform self-harm is highly prevalent. Along with the hypomania comes the racing thoughts, becoming so totally absorbed in my activities of creating I let go of time. I do not eat. I cannot sense anything that is going on around me. I do not eat. I do not take any breaks. I forget to take my meds. When I communicate with my partner, a great conversation where I am speaking at the speed of light & I become so excited that I speak loudly & then as easily as anything I will suddenly snap & lose control & blow up into a tantrum & become what my partner will feel as irrational but I am not aware of how totally I have lost controlled & the last time I really got out of control I went into a rage & was shouting & screaming & pounding my fists on the arms of my chair. It takes some time to recover from this kind of outburst. I am not psychotic & have not hallucinated but I do feel elated by what I create & that what I am creating is genius. It may be so but I feel so high on the feelings of elation. Some of this is creative confidence but it can turn on a dime & I feel that what I have created is shit & I spiral into a depression where just moments before I am higher than the clouds & the moon. So I go from having an endless amount of energy and experiencing the highest of high to dropping off a ledge into molasses & getting stuck in such a dark dungeon of hopelessness and despair, of depression and suicide as the alternative to alleviate this overwhelming emotional and physical pain.
Symptoms of a person with Bipolar:
***Are in an especially or abnormally energetic or irritable mood (lasting four or more days)
***Feel abnormally self-confident or social
***Need less sleep or are more energetic
***Are unusually talkative or “hyper”
***Are irritable or quick to anger
***Think faster than usual
***Are more easily distracted or have trouble concentrating
***Are more goal-directed or productive at work, school, or home
***Are more involved in pleasurable activities, such as spending or sex
***Feel or have reports from others that they did or said things that were unusual, abnormal, or not like their usual selves.
Myth vs. Fact
The following lists highlight common misconceptions about bipolar disorder in particular and
mental illness in general.
Myth: People who have bipolar disorder are “crazy” or “out of control;” they need constant supervision.
Fact: People who have bipolar disorder do not always experience symptoms; moods alternate and often the person’s behaviors and thinking are perfectly “normal,” or (preferred) balanced. Even untreated, people with bipolar disorder usually are not out of touch with reality, dangerous or completely out of control. With proper treatment, bipolar disorder is manageable and symptoms are much less pronounced, if present at all.
Myth: People with bipolar disorder have no discretion or use poor judgment.
Fact: This can be true during severe bouts with depressed and manic moods, but in general, people with bipolar disorder have the same discretion and judgment as people who do not have it.
Myth: People with bipolar disorder are violent; they may even be dangerous criminals.
Fact: Evidence suggests that people with bipolar disorder are much more likely to be victims of violent crimes than perpetrators. The most common violent thoughts of people with bipolar disorder are turned inward, as is the case with people who live with major depression.
Myth: Only Caucasians have bipolar disorder.
Fact: Bipolar disorder appears to affect all populations equally. This myth probably exists because Caucasian people are more likely than many minorities to seek treatment because of socioeconomic and cultural reasons. But minority communities and individuals in the U.S. are increasingly recognizing mental illness as an illness rather than a personal failing, and are finding that their communities offer mental health services that they can afford. This trend should reveal a more even distribution of diagnoses across ethnic communities nationwide.
Myth: Bipolar disorder is a middle class disease.
Fact: While people who have less money may have less access to health care in the U.S., there is no disease in the world that cares about how much money people have. This myth exists because some people do not believe that mental illnesses are true health conditions and that diseases such as bipolar disorder result from boredom or too much leisure time to feel sorry for oneself. The fact is, a person who has bipolar disorder needs treatment and cannot will his or herself out of having the disease.
Myth: Bipolar disorder is not a real illness.
Fact: While scientifically based information on mental illness is relatively new and not yet fully understood, evidence suggests that bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses often result from hormonal and chemical imbalances, brain neurotransmitter dysfunction and environmental causes. The fact that bipolar disorder responds to medicinal treatment indicates that the disruption it causes in one’s life— “the disease”—can be remedied as one can remedy the symptoms of many other illnesses.
Myth: Having bipolar disorder is a choice; anyone with willpower can control his or her symptoms.
Fact: This is like stating that anyone with willpower can control the symptoms and progressive destruction of cancer or HIV/AIDS. In other words, bipolar disorder is a physiologically based disorder that cannot be controlled by one’s will or wishes.
Myth: People living with bipolar disorder suffer all the time, throughout their whole lives.
Fact: Not true. Even untreated, people with bipolar disorder do not suffer all the time—but they do suffer. However, people who are properly treated can live normal or balanced lives.
Myth: Treatment is uniform, meaning that treatment is the same for everyone.
Fact: Because people’s biochemistry is different and because the causes of bipolar disorder may be different for different people, each person responds differently to treatment. This is one reason that treatments are thought by some to be ineffective; however, the truth is, most people can find a treatment that works for them without enough patience, and under the close supervision of a knowledgeable and experienced physician.
Myth: Bipolar disorder is a sign of failure.
Fact: Bipolar disorder is a sign of being a human being with a predisposition for bipolar disorder.
Myth: Bipolar disorder is a character flaw.
Fact: While what is or is not a character flaw is inherently a subjective question, the bottom line is that bipolar disorder is an illness, not an aspect of character; however, being prejudiced against people with health problems is a truly undesirable characteristic.
Myth: The illness defines the person. People who suffer from mental illness have no other concerns or interests in life.
Fact: Just like someone who lives with, say, HIV, treating the symptoms and the illness itself does take priority in a patient’s life from time to time, but with proper treatment and management of the disease, bipolar disorder (and any other chronic disease) takes less of a priority and the patient’s life becomes no different from anyone else’s.
Myth: Those who do not “get better” are not actively engaged in the recovery process.
Fact: No one can be blamed for the effectiveness of his or her recovery from an illness such as bipolar disorder. Many people work hard on finding the right way to manage the disease and continue to suffer the symptoms of the disorder until the best treatment is found. Assuming that a person who continues to suffer is not “trying” to get better is unfair and counterproductive.
Myth: The patient is to blame for his or her mental illness.
Fact: While incredible to most informed and intelligent people, some people still believe this myth is true.
Famous People who are Bipolar
Bipolar Disorder vs Bipolar In Order
By Tom Wootton
A recent comment from bipolar advantage website prompted a great reply from one of our volunteers. I think he really put it in the Bipolar Advantage perspective. “Thank you for contacting us. You are certainly not your disorder, but you need not have bipolar in disorder at all. The argument you present has been floating around for a long time. The way we look at it is that I am six feet tall, weigh 185 pounds, am male, gay, and bipolar. I am bipolar because I have a wide range of highs and lows, which makes bipolar a description of me just like my height and sexual preference. I do not have the flu, a cold, or bipolar disorder, which are all illnesses, so I would not want to be identified as any of the illnesses just because I temporarily had them. I have Bipolar IN Order, which is not an illness at all. I am proud to be identified with being bipolar just as I am proud to be identified with being gay. They used to try to say being gay was a mental illness too.
Without the difference between Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar IN Order, it makes sense to lump bipolar as a trait in with bipolar disorder the illness. Bipolar itself is not an illness at all and nothing to be ashamed of. As a matter of fact, those of us who have Bipolar IN Order see it as a tremendous advantage over those incapable of experiencing as wide of a range as we can.
Although it is an interesting semantical debate, it has little to do with what we do at Bipolar Advantage. We teach people how to make bipolar work for them instead of trying to make it go away, which is not possible anyway unless you are willing to be a zombie for the rest of your life. It would be like cutting off your head because you do not want to be associated with being six feet tall (or have not learned to duck when going through five foot high openings).
…In a way, arguing that you are not “bipolar disorder” is reinforcing the false notion that bipolar must only be seen as an illness, which is a major source of the stigma associated with it and the despair that those with the bipolar disorder diagnosis feel.” …We do recognize Bipolar Disorder as a terrible condition that needs to be treated. Some misrepresent what we say as advocating letting bipolar run unchecked, but nothing could be further from the truth. Getting Bipolar IN Order takes a serious commitment. I often say it is the hardest thing you will ever do, except for one thing: not doing it. Leaving bipolar in the disordered state makes life hell for everyone.
I have started listening to the Free Videos of the concept behind Bipolar In Disorder. The Course is rather expensive for some people but I do not want to be dulled out with medication. I tried that and I did not feel like myself at all and I stopped being motivated to create. I just became depressed and stopped wanting to live. To have the creative highs is important to me and I move through the deep depressions with acceptance that they are what I have to accept in order that my creative self can live freely to be inspired and to follow my muse where ever she may lead me. However, it is important to modify and control the behavior which is detrimental to my well being as well as my partner’s and those whom I love in my life.
I hope this has been a helpful endeavor on my part to make aware the different aspects of Bipolar and the ways in which to heal while living with Bipolar being in your life.
Bipolar In Order – The Shocking Truth about Recovery from Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar In Order (if you watched The Shocking Truth – skip to 3:15)