Bipolar disorder is a pain in the butt at it’s best, and a devastating illness at it’s worst. Bipolar disorder often takes a lot out of people; not just the person with the diagnosis, but the people around them as well. There are the suicide attempts, the talk of suicide (suicidal ideation), the absolute despair of a depressive episode, and the joy and elation experienced at the beginning of a manic episode (this doesn’t last long ~ maybe a couple of days.) Following are the signs of a manic episode. Most people are familiar with depression having either experienced it firsthand, or knowing someone who has. The condition of mania is less well known as it does not generally occur in people without manic-depression. Also included in this post are 6 key concepts for recovery.
Symptoms of a manic episode include, but are not limited to:
- Increased physical and mental activity and energy
- Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
- Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
- Decreased need for sleep without experiencing fatigue
- Grandiose delusions, inflated sense of self-importance
- Racing speech, thoughts, and flight of ideas (one idea after another at an exaggerated speed)
- Impulsiveness, poor judgment, distractibility
- Reckless behavior such as spending sprees, rash business decisions, erratic driving, and sexual indiscretions
- In the most severe cases, delusions and hallucinations
Six key recovery concepts
- Hope. Believing that you can cope with your mood disorder is not only correct, it is essential to recovery.
- Perspective. Depression and Bipolar disorder are cyclical in nature. The moods come and go; what a lot of people understand as mood swings. While you are in a depressive episode, it may seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The important thing is not to give up hope that things will improve.
- Personal Responsibility. It is up to you to take the actions that will keep you stable. This includes taking your medication(s), asking for help when you need it, and keeping your doctor’s appointments.
- Self Advocacy. Become your own best friend and learn to advocate for yourself to get the treatment that you need including medication, therapy, disability (if you need it), and other services. Create a world you want to live in, and a life that you want to live. This is a bit easier said than done, and, in my opinion, is a learned skill.
- Education. Learn everything you can about the illness (this goes for friends and family as well). You cannot adequately fight a disorder you do not understand. Learning about your disorder also helps you make decisions about your treatment, and all aspects of your life. Education will help you become a better advocate for yourself.
- Support. Doing the work to get better is entirely up to you. Support from others is essential in maintaining your stability and the quality of your life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or let friends and family know that you are having a hard time.
For me, personally, I think that hope, education and learning self advocacy are the most important. Perspective comes in at a close 4th place. Having hope that things can and will improve can help you through the mood swings, and can also help lead to long periods of wellness (unless you have rapid mood cycling which I do. I tend to stay “well” for a few weeks at a time.) Education is probably my best weapon against this disorder. Understanding what is happening is key in fighting any illness, but I think it is most important for people with mental illness. You cannot battle that which you do not understand. Self-advocacy is, as I mentioned earlier, a learned skill. You simply have to shore yourself up, and ask for what you need. This is really difficult when all you want to do is stay in bed, but that is precisely when you need to stand up for yourself so you can get the help you need.
Having perspective is important as well. Look around you sometime. There are many people with mental illnesses that totally trump manic depression. Schizophrenia is one of the illnesses that I am glad I do not suffer from as is Dissociative Identity disorder (no offense is meant to people who live with these disorders or any others.) There are many others that I am glad I do not have to live with. I have enough on my plate with about 5 different diagnoses. But, I am serious, if you want to gain perspective on your personal situation, all you have to do is look around you or watch the news. That’s guaranteed to make you feel grateful that Bipolar disorder is but one thing that you have to manage. Life can truly be a whole lot worse than having abnormal mood swings. At least that is my perspective. I am grateful I do not live in a country that people are fleeing from by the millions because of military violence, I am grateful that I have not lost a loved one to gang violence or any other type of violence, and, most importantly, I am grateful to be alive to experience mood swings. There was a time when no one really expected me to survive, and I almost lost my life during that time. But that is my reality, and may not necessarily reflect the reality of others.
Credits: http://www.dbsalliance.org for the symptoms and concepts for getting and staying well longer.
Filed under: acceptance, appreciation, being okay with one’s self, Bipolar Disorder, challenge, courage, depressive episodes, healing, inner strength, management, manic episodes Tagged: Bipolar Disorder, Recovery, Staying Well, Symptoms of Mania