How do you know if you have Bipolar?
There are plenty of online sites giving the list of symptoms and tests to determine whether you have bipolar, but these are extremely gerneralise din terms of understanding the illness. I could write a post now and simply state the symptoms with a list of one word terms, for example;
Sadness, sleeping, weight changes, suicidal thoughts, detachment
Elation, irritability, grandiose ideas
This really tells the reader very little about bipolar and its symptoms!
Bipolar is a mood disorder and the thoughts and feelings of the survivor are much deeper and cross a wider range than has been described here! Over time I am going to write a number of blogs (hopefully) explaining what it is to have bipolar, note I say ‘have’ and not ‘be.’ A patient cannot be cancer or renal failure, they have these illnesses, but these illnesses do not define who they are. This naming is part of the stigma of mental illness. I have bipolar, but I am not bipolar.
So, how did I know I had bipolar? In short, years of alternating and debilitating moods and feelings. The depression part of the illness runs much deeper than a bit of sadness. It is an overwhelming feeling of living in darkness, locating your own failures and dwelling on them; repeatedly analyzing ways of improving life, often far-fetched ways which pushes the survivor into a melancholy daydream. The senses are overwhelmed, every smell becomes meaningful, music seems to talk to the soul often resulting in tears as you brood on the words and how they apply to your life, the sound smoothers you and blocks out all else. The mind reacts to this by creating a fantasy world and this is the period in which survivors tend to push others away because they interrupt that fantasy and threaten it.
Mania does not mean extremely happy, contrary to popular belief. It refers to heightened energy, an inability to sit still; a need to take on immense tasks largely compelled by the feeling of invincibility and therein lays the risk. The survivor is overwhelmed by the drive to fully live even if that means rally driving, working 24/7 and will generally act out of character because the irritable excitement and low boredom threshold compels them.
These are the very basics of the pre-diagnosis struggles of a survivor. I will go more into detail in future blogs, but essentially hope that I have enlightened readers with regards to the symptom list!