ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Bipolar Really Is

Updated on June 14, 2019
Wyatt Scratch profile image

Wyatt has access to a wide variety of mental health experts which has given him a passion and understanding of how mental health works.

The Bipolar Intro

Bipolar Disorder is commonly thought to be nothing more than mood swings. Although that definition isn't technically incorrect, it still leaves a lot unexplained. So let's go through what it really means, and try to identify what issues come from someone who has this illness.

Bipolar can seem very strange to an outside observer. Many people write off Bipolar symptoms as "bad behaviour".
Bipolar can seem very strange to an outside observer. Many people write off Bipolar symptoms as "bad behaviour". | Source

What is a More Concrete Definition of Bipolar Then?

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and can prevent people from doing basic everyday tasks. Unlike mood swings, these periods are grouped into 2 major categories - Depressive and Manic.

Depressive is fairly self explanatory, it's a period where one has similar symptoms to Depression.

Manic is the one people don't seem to understand. It's where your emotions and mood are extremely high. Many think this is a good thing, or think Bipolar is just a less severe version of Depression because sometimes they aren't sad.

Manic behavior can get very dangerous and shouldn't be romanticized as "being really happy". Manic episodes are just as damaging as Depressive ones.

So let's talk about the specific symptoms someone with Bipolar may face.

What Are The Specific Symptoms?

Essentially someone with Bipolar goes through periods of Depression, wherein they have very low energy levels, get feelings of hopelessness or emptiness, even thoughts of self-harm and suicide. It might sound like clinical Depression, but someone with Bipolar has something else they need to deal with - mania.

We hear the word "Mania" so much in common culture that its become a positive word. Think about it, how many events just stick the word mania on the end of their title to make it seem exciting: WrestleMania, LEGO Mania, and there's even an event called Pumpkin Mania going on.

The definition of Mania isn't so upbeat. Mania is an excessive enthusiasm or desire. The key being excessive, as that's what people with Bipolar experience. A period of time experiencing increased energy levels, increased activity levels, and generally feeling "up" or "high". That doesn't sound too bad, does it? Usually that's where people stop searching and chalk up Bipolar to be occasional Depression. But those increased energy levels experienced during mania can lead to some very dangerous thoughts and actions.

Someone going through a Manic episode may experience: insomnia, increased aggression levels, inability to focus, or even risky behavior like reckless sex and money spending. It can get really dangerous.

This image helps display the huge difference in behavior for an individual with Bipolar.
This image helps display the huge difference in behavior for an individual with Bipolar. | Source

So it's Just one emotion or the other?

Not quite, as theses Depressive and Manic episodes can actually mix - and no, they don't cancel out. It's a little hard to imagine, but bear with me a moment.

Someone can be experiencing Manic type symptoms: fast thoughts, less sleep, and being easily irritable. At the same time Depressive symptoms can be present: low self-esteem, feeling tired and lethargic, and worrying about anything that speeds through their mind.

Sounds pretty horrible, doesn't it? It's why when I hear people saying things like "It's just a mood swing", it's heartbreaking. People who suffer from this illness can have so much trouble living day to day, having inconsistent feelings and illogical thoughts.

There are actually four main categories of Bipolar; Bipolar 1, where an individual experiences periods of severe mood episodes; Bipolar 2, where an individual experiences less powerful Manic episodes but more severe Depressive episodes; Cyclothymic, where an individual experiences much shorter Manic and Depressive episodes; and Mixed, where an individual can experience symptoms from both Manic and Depressive episodes simultaneously.

Art can be very therapeutic, and I suggest everyone try to find time to make something - it doesn't even have to be a picture. A poem, a song, maybe you like designing bookshelf's - art is what you want it to be!
Art can be very therapeutic, and I suggest everyone try to find time to make something - it doesn't even have to be a picture. A poem, a song, maybe you like designing bookshelf's - art is what you want it to be! | Source

How can you tell if someone has Bipolar?

People with Bipolar aren't always having Depressive and/or Manic episodes, and weeks or even months can go by with a level mood and energy level. Like all mental illness' - or mental health in general - it's a person by person basis.

Symptoms can develop differently depending on the person. If you suspect you or someone you know is suffering from any kind of mental health issue, see a professional as soon as possible.

Over 500,000 people have Bipolar in Canada alone - roughly 1.5% of the population of Canada. The number would likely be higher, but people don't learn about Bipolar the same way they learn about Depression or Social Anxieties, so it may go unnoticed for a very long time.

What Would My Friends and Family Think?

Bipolar is one of the mental illness' that can heavily effect not only the person who has it, but their family and friends. Any mental illness can effect those around you, but Bipolar can be very difficult to live with if you don't have the knowledge about what's happening. Bipolar can cause financial problems, emotional distress, difficulty creating and maintaining relationships outside of family.

And one of the biggest problems is ignorance.

Someone will have these Depressive/Manic episodes and not only will it make them feel like garbage, it might cause the people around them to harshly judge them for something they can't control. Which causes more stress, more reasons to feel like garbage. As most mental health issues are, it's a vicious cycle.

I have nothing clever to say, I just really like this piece of Bipolar centered art.
I have nothing clever to say, I just really like this piece of Bipolar centered art. | Source


It's a shame that Depression and anxiety are the only mental health issues people think will affect them or those around them. I'm not saying that Depression and anxiety isn't problematic for those who have it, but I always see people tense up, or be skeptical when someone is said to have a mental illness that's not as well known.

I'm not asking anyone to be a perfect encyclopedia of mental health, but I will ask that you try and research the more stigmatized mental illness'. Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anorexia, Addiction - there are so many illness' that are brushed aside by people saying "It probably won't happen to me."

If there is one thing I've learned in life, it's that from education comes compassion for your fellow human. Not pity, not sorrow, but compassion.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Wyatt Scratch profile imageAUTHOR

      Wyatt Frazer Scratch 

      7 months ago from Hamilton

      Well thanks for giving it a read! I hope it helps in some way or another.

    • Miranda Scott profile image

      Miranda Scott 

      7 months ago from Tennessee

      I struggle with Bipolar on a daily bases and I find this article very interesting.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)