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Living with Bipolar Disorder: There is Recovery and Hope by Lauren Christiansen

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

Photo credit: Pexels

Jessica felt great. Everything in her life was just wonderful. She couldn’t believe how amazing the world looked outside, and how fantastic her own life had become. As she sat there pondering her own phenomenal existence, she realized that the kitchen table had a few crumbs on it. Somehow, the crumbs made Jessica’s life seem less impressive. Horrified at this possibility, she got a sponge out and began maniacally cleaning until the crumbs were gone. Then she noticed other areas of the house that looked dirty. She cleaned those parts too, until the house finally reflected her own newfound joy and excitement about life. This process took 5 hours.

She realized she hadn’t slept at all, but wasn’t tired in the least, even after all of that cleaning. Burning with energy and mania, she knew she couldn’t stop at just cleaning the house. More needed to be done. She got in her car and drove to her favorite clothing store. She decided she needed all new clothing to reflect her own glorious feelings about her life. She spent $500 on new clothes and went home, feeling refreshed and excited.

Jessica suffers from Bipolar disorder, and is currently refusing to take medication for her condition. When she takes medication, her moods are even. She doesn’t fall into a deep depression, and she certainly doesn’t spend 500 on clothing that she doesn’t need. The truth is that her life isn’t as glorious as she thought it was during her manic period. She had a mediocre job that she was on the verge of losing, due to calling out when her Bipolar symptoms became too intense. She had no boyfriend, because all of them left when they saw how unstable she was after refusing to take her medication. She was on the verge of eviction, and had at least $3000 in credit card debt. None of that mattered to her though, when she experienced a manic phase. All of it mattered to her though, when she experienced a depressed phase. There was no middle ground for Jessica. Everything was black and white in her world of Bipolar disorder, and life was either grandiose or miserable. She had no sense of normalcy whatsoever.

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health disorder that is defined as “a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day to day tasks.” Those who suffer from the condition typically experience either elevated, or “up” energy levels, or excessively “down, sad, or indifferent” periods. If you experience these symptoms, or know someone who does, here is what you need to know about the condition.

1 There Are 3 Types of Disorders. Those who have Bipolar disorder are classified in three different ways.

  • The first type is Bipolar 1, which is defined as “manic episodes that last up to 7 days, that typically needs hospital care.” Patients also experience “depressive symptoms that typically last 2 weeks.” It is also possible for those with Bipolar 1 disorder to experience mixed symptoms, such as feeling depressed and manic at the same time.

  • The second type is Bipolar 2, which is “defined by a period of depressive episodes and manic episodes, but manic episodes are not as intense as those who suffer from Bipolar 1.”

  • The third type is Cyclothymic disorder, which is “defined as periods of hypomanic episodes as well as depressive episodes that last up to 2 years, or 1 year for children and adolescents. The symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.”

2. The Symptoms are Severe and Intense. Those who suffer from any type of Bipolar disorder struggle with different types of symptoms, which are classified as such:

  • Manic episodes: Those who have manic episodes typically experience feeling very “up or high, irritable, and touchy”. They also have difficulty sleeping and do not feel the need to sleep as much as a normal person would. They typically speak very quickly and think of their life in a grandiose way, often in confliction with reality. They engage in risky behavior, such as overeating, drinking, drug use, excessive shopping, or reckless sexual behavior.

  • Depressive episodes: Those who suffer from depressive episodes experience symptoms similar to those who simply suffer from just depression, but Bipolar induced depressed symptoms tend to be more extreme. For example, they may feel “excessively down, worried, or hopeless. They have trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and they may feel as though they have no purpose or ability to cope with everyday life.” These symptoms can be so extreme that they often derail one’s own life. For example, it can affect one’s job performance, or ability to hold a job. Also, those who suffer from these severe depressive symptoms cannot hold a relationship because their partners cannot cope with these frequent and intense “down” periods. Usually, those who experience depressive symptoms cannot get out of bed because the hopeless and fearful feelings are so intense.

3. Treatments are Available and Medication is Necessary. Unlike anxiety and depression disorders, which can sometimes be solved through counseling and behavioral changes alone, Bipolar disorder patients must be medicated in order to function and cope with everyday circumstances. Though counseling is absolutely necessary for Bipolar disorder, medication is just as necessary. There are different options for medications, and each of them can be very helpful in stabilizing one’s mood. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from Bipolar disorder also do not want to take medication, and are sometimes afraid of it. This can be heartbreaking for family members, who wish to see their loved ones live a more stable and healthy life. It is vital to speak to a doctor if you or someone you know suffers from Bipolar disorder.

If you have ever experienced a lifestyle or thought process that is similar to Jessica’s, or you know someone who does, then feel encouraged to know that recovery is possible. Having Bipolar disorder does not mean that one cannot live a fully productive and successful life. If medication and counseling are included in the treatment process, patients can go on to live a more normal and peaceful existence.

Do you suffer from symptoms of Bipolar disorder, or do you know someone who does? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling Clinic at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.

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