Bipolar disorder also known as manic depression, does not have a known cause. What is known is that it is a combination of one’s environment, genetics, and altered brain structure and chemistry. It is a mental health condition which will cause extreme mood swings. Being bipolar means having high-highs followed by low-low’s or vice versa. The manic side of bipolar can have symptoms of feeling euphoric, unusually irritable or when you feel full of energy. The depressive side of bipolar shows symptoms of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in most activities according to the Mayo Clinic website.
Now that we know the technical side of this mental health disease, you may be wondering what it is like for someone who has been diagnosed. Like many diseases, you must be diagnosed by a doctor as the symptoms you may be experiencing could be for several various diseases.
I have a member of my family who has been diagnosed with bipolar disease. I asked a couple of questions to better understand what she goes through.
When were you first diagnosed?
Around my early twenties.
When did you first realize something was wrong?
As a young teenager.
Were you scared to confront this demon?
Absolutely and I still am, it is a constant struggle.
Are you currently talking to someone like a psychiatrist? Are you taking medications?
I currently have a therapist I talk to on a regular basis. I am currently taking Abilify and Wellbutrin, but in the past, I have taken various different medications like Zoloft and Abilify. It has been a long road in trying to find what medications will help.
Do you feel better when you use both medication and support, like that of a psychiatrist?
Absolutely. My friends and family have helped me as well.
What would you tell someone who is scared to confront this disease?
That is a hard one. I would say never give up. Always seek out what helps you best. Find someone you trust to talk to. Find your creative side. Find what works best for you, whether that means medication and therapy or whatever you find that helps even you out. Always put yourself first.
Living with a mental health disorder like bipolar has been a daily struggle. For the past few years though it has been mainly depression, deep depression. Every day is a battle and I work hard to feel somewhat better-somewhat normal. I am thankful that my medication seems to be helping. I am thankful for where I am right now and am getting stronger. I wake up every day and force myself to take my medication and to conquer the day. I hope to maintain a level mental life and not to go too much up or too much down which is a daily battle.
If you know someone who is struggling with depression or bipolar disorder, talk with them, let them know that they are loved, valued, and worth it. You can make a difference in someone’s life, be that change for someone whether you know them or not. You never know, your words could change the course of someone's life. A lot of people who have mental health issues do not come to terms with it and do not seek the help that they need. A simple talk could be the start they need. As stated above, my family member knew from a younger age that something wasn't right, and seeked the help she needed. There are people with mental health issues that only exacerbate their conditions with alcohol or drugs and this is never good. Learn the signs of depression or manic and when you see someone displaying these signs, talk with them, but do not scare them by coming on strong with accusations. Respect them, but do not talk down to them as if they were a child, unless it is a child.
We are all faced with challenges everyday, and how we handle these challenges will either harm or help not only ourselves but those closest to us. Make the best decision for you.
Interview of Sara Shaver. 6/12/2020
Mayo Clinic. Bipolar disorder. 6/10/2020. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955