A Writer Suffering with Bipolar Disorder
I was 7 years old when I tried to commit suicide for the first time. There was a lot going on in my life, a lot of changes. I experienced sexual abuse by someone I loved and trusted. I didn't understand what had happened. I didn't understand the flood of emotions I was feeling. I didn't know how to cope. I thought suicide was the answer. I thought suicide would end the suffering.
I didn't feel comfortable sharing my feelings with anyone. What would I say? I felt guilty for what happened to me. I thought it was my fault. I was confused. Besides, there was this quiet rule about sharing your feelings: no one really wanted to know, no one really cared. So I suppressed what happened. I couldn't deal with it. Yet, the depression continued. I thought others experienced the same sadness and the same dreadful racing thoughts. I thought it was normal and that somehow I would grow out of it. But I didn't. And it got worst.
My mother suffered from manic depression. That's what it was called back then. I witnessed her withdraw from the world when she was depressed. She was depressed a lot. I didn't know I would end up just like her. Now, the disorder is known as bipolar, where a person experiences "extreme changes in mood, thought, energy, and behavior" (bpHope.com). See the link below.
Learn More About Bipolar Disorder
- What is bipolar?
Hope and Harmony for People with Bipolar
There are three types of bipolar disorder.
- Bipolar 1, which is characterized by one or more manic episodes that last at least a week or require hospitalization.
- Bipolar 2, which is characterized by one or more depressive episodes accompanied by at least one hypomanic episode.
- Cyclothymic Disorder, which is characterized by chronic mood fluctuations that do not reach the level of a full manic or depressive episode.
According to this website, there are 5 types of bipolar disorder:
- Residential and Day Treatment for Bipolar Illness | Skyland Trail
Skyland Trail offers residential & day treatment for bipolar disorder. Take the next step toward managing your bipolar illness and living the life you choose.
- Bipolar 1: Bipolar I is considered more severe than bipolar II because people with bipolar I experience at least one episode of mania, while individuals with bipolar II experience hypomania, a milder episode of elevated mood and energy.
- Bipolar 2: Though considered less severe, untreated, bipolar II may still interfere with a person’s ability to work, go to school, or participate fully in the community. People with bipolar I are more likely to experience symptoms of psychosis than people with bipolar II, and psychosis is more likely to occur with mania than with depression.
- Cyclothymic Disorder: While symptoms may be classified as mild, the highs and lows of cyclothymia can still interfere with relationships, school or work responsibilities, and day-to-day living, so it’s still important to seek effective treatment.
- Bipolar Disorder With Rapid Cycling: In rapid cycling bipolar, individuals experience four or more episodes of mania, hypomania, or depression in a year and may or may not return to a euthymic mood in between.
- Bipolar Disorder Otherwise Specified
My Experience with Bipolar 1
- I get depressed a lot. When I'm depressed, I cry all the time and often feel hopeless and helpless. It's difficult to see the positives.
- I withdrew from the world. I don't want to be around people. Their energy drains me.
- I sleep most of the day and enjoy being up during the night.
- I rarely eat. I don't get much of an appetite.
- I write a lot of poetry and in journals but I can't concentrate for too long so I avoid writing longer pieces or working on my books.
- Easy tasks, like bathing and brushing my teeth, become difficult.
- I'm left feeling insecure about myself, my thoughts, and my life.
- I can't get out of bed for long periods of time.
- I get tired quickly.
- When I'm manic, I feel wonderful. I feel in control. I feel powerful. With that boost of confidence, I end up making many mistakes. I run on impulse. I end up in abusive relationships. I end up making rash decisions.
- When I'm manic, I talk a lot and very quickly. I often make no sense.
- I've been hospitalized twice (so far).
- It's made me sensitive to the feelings of others.
- I've become aware of the little things and take nothing for granted.
- I've taken so many different medications (most stop working overtime) and I've had to deal with so many different side-effects (like dizziness, slurred speech, and suicidal thoughts).
- I've become extremely sensitive to light and sound.
- I've been to many psychiatrists and seen many therapists.
- No matter how many times I fall, I always seem to get back up. It many take months or years but I get there.
- My faith has become stronger. I know nothing is truly in my control.
- I enjoy spending time alone and in nature.
How I Cope with Bipolar 1
I write a lot. That's how I cope. I write when I'm sad, confused, angry, happy, depressed, manic, emotionally exhausted, and even when I just don't feel like writing. I share how I'm feeling through poetry. I write out my thoughts in journals. I write lists of things I want to do, lists of things I want to accomplish, list of places I want to go. I write ideas for future articles and books. I write everything down. It doesn't matter if it makes no sense at the time. I can always try to make some sense of it later.
I also read a lot. I read self-help and inspirational books, books on business, books on psychology and mental health, books on healthy eating and fitness, books on creativity building, books about art and design, and of course, books on writing. Basically, I read anything that interests me and can inspire me to keep going.
I take my time. I don't do anything that will make my illness worst. I stay away from toxic people. I don't get on social media much. I sleep when I have to. I eat when I'm hungry. I take long showers. I listen to music. I go for walks. I exercise at home. I cook. I reach out to people I trust. I talk to my therapist. I take medication, although I'm no longer taking them now (so far, hemp oil is working for me but that's another article). I go food shopping early in the morning to avoid the crowds. I take pictures of nature. I draw. I paint. I make crafts. I do anything and everything I need to to feel better and take care of myself. And I try my best to be patient. I know in time, things will change, things always get better.
When nothing works, I go with the flow. I cry if I have to. I sleep. I reach out to someone I trust. I meditate. I go get a cold glass of water. Whatever I feel like doing at the moment. I try not to deny my feelings. I try not to take my feelings too seriously. I know it will all pass. I know that my feelings will change. I know that it's not my fault. I have a sick brain. I've learned to accept that. Then, I'll go write about it. I'll share the experience with someone. I may even write a post on Facebook.
What I've Learned as I Live With Bipolar 1
- living with bipolar isn't easy
- many people don't understand what it's like
- many people don't want to talk about it
- thinking about suicide doesn't always mean I plan to do it
- it's very difficult to share my experiences
- bipolar isn't a weakness
- I'm actually very strong
- I'm also very sensitive (and that's not a negative thing)
- I take nothing or anyone for granted
- I want others to know they are not alone
- I know who I am, what I like, and what I don't like
- I don't give up easily
- experiencing so many negative emotions has made me a better person and a better writer
- I jump from one project to another according to my mood
- I've discovered the best writing schedule that works for me: having no schedule at all
- I love who I am
- I'm thankful for everything; the good, the bad and the ugly
- I'm a good listener
- I'm a good friend
- I'm a great mother
- I'm a student for life
Shortly after writing this article, I was offered the opportunity to write a Guest Post on a blog. Visit the link below and don't forget to subscribe to See The Good.
Thank you so much, Kathy.
© 2018 Alexa Rosa