If there is any mental illness where stigma is most attached to, it is bipolar disorder. You’ll here it wherever you go. “He/she is so bipolar,” or “This weather is bipolar.” We know that this means that the subject may be frequently changing, but this is where the stigma comes in. Those comments are uneducated and today it is my goal to begin to change that. As someone being treated for bipolar II disorder, along with a sister with the same diagnosis and a manic depressive aunt, I hope the following helps others understand the disorder better.
There are four types of bipolar disorder. These are bipolar I, bipolar II, rapid cycling, and mixed. One of the main characteristics of bipolar is mania or hypomania, a milder form of mania. Manic symptoms are more common in type I and can include feelings of elation, racing thoughts, and speaking quickly. Those with type I may also exhibit psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or believing they are someone or something else. Type II is less severe and patients do not hallucinate and have milder hypomania and alternate between manic periods and depression. Bouts of depression may last longer as well. Those with rapid cycling experience up to at least four episodes of mania and depression in one year. The last type is Mixed bipolar disorder. This means that a patient may experience simultaneous episodes of both mania and depression happening at the same time.
The following are comments from followers who want others to know a thing or two about bipolar disorder and are here to break the stigma:
“It’s not always being “moody”. It’s sleepless nights, its unexplained anger, it’s not being able to look at yourself in the mirror and recognize the person staring back.”
“I wish for people to know that Bipolar is like any other chronic illness. If well treated and supported, a person who is experiencing bipolar can be fully functional, productive and capable. All we need is love and less stigma. Bipolar can affect everyone and anyone, in any life stage depending on the pressure being faced, and bipolar has no face.”
“We can still work and be functioning members of society when stable. We can still be loving parents and our illness does not mean we cannot raise children.”
“The violence that manifests during my episodes is not me being violent. I honestly can’t control myself sometimes. It’s not an excuse, and I hate myself for it.”
“We aren’t necessarily the ticking time bomb everyone seems to expect us to be.”
“It’s an incurable brain disorder, but, it can be, in most cases, successfully managed with the correct combinations of medications.”
” Even when I seem like I’m happy, I’m really just manic and I’m still going through bipolar. Just because I got out of bed this morning doesn’t mean I ALWAYS go through depression every day. Sometimes I’m hit depression for 3 weeks straight but not always. Just because I look happy and “fine” doesn’t mean that I’m not breaking on the inside.”
For more information, please visit Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance.