I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2012, but I had it for years (possibly since I was a teenager) and didn’t know what the symptoms meant. After being diagnosed, it took about 18 months of trying different medications and dosages to find a combination that worked for me.
What is bipolar disorder? It is a brain dysfunction that causes a person to have periods of mania and depression. It is categorized as a mental illness, but there is no cure.
Manic episodes are characterized by very little need for sleep, high-energy, creativity, productivity, and sometimes anger and aggression. It makes a person feel invincible, sometimes beyond reason (some people in a manic phase have thought they could fly and met their demise). When a person is on top of the world that way, it’s easy to become impatient towards others who seem slower and less capable by comparison.
Before treatment, my manic episodes meant sleeping ninety minutes, twice a day. This always lasted for a month and then I would sleep around the clock for 1-3 days and be back to normal. It was a highly productive and happy time so I never felt the need to cure it by seeking treatment. I didn’t seek treatment until my manic periods started turning angry and aggressive toward others (challenging authority, etc.).
Depression, on the other hand, can last for months (for some people, years). For me, it is characterized by sleeping too much, feelings of worthlessness, frustration, and even thoughts of suicide.
Now, I’m more stable and happier than I’ve been in years. It’s like getting the real me back. But the medications make me sleepy and have other side effects. I still have periods of mania and depression, but they are less severe and I am learning how to help myself recognize it for what it is and deal with it accordingly. However, medication side-effects, bipolar swings, other health issues, make it difficult for me to work outside the home. This works okay for being a writer, but there’s no money in writing. These are the personal challenges I face every day.
Bipolar disorder is common among creative people, like writers, artists, musicians, and actors. One of the upsides of bipolar disorder is the burst of creativity that comes during a manic episode.
I have chosen to be open about having bipolar disorder because the responses I’ve had from Christians have been appalling. I take it this comes from a lack of education among the public. Please take time to understand bipolar disorder. There’s a good chance you know someone who has it.
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