7 Things About Bipolar I Want People to Know

Bipolar is a very misunderstood illness. It’s comes with a stigma. But here are 7 things about bipolar I want people to know.

7 Things About Bipolar I Want People To Know
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Mental illness. It’s almost a dirty word. Okay, so it’s two words. But these days there is a lot of misinformation surrounding bipolar disorder.

So let’s start with the basics. First bipolar is a mood disorder. It creates high (mania) and low moods (depression) in a patient. Psychosis (being out of touch with reality) can also occur during severe episodes. It also affects circadian rhymes, thereby disrupting sleep and furthering the symptoms. The episodes can last weeks or months. It is not uncommon to rapidly cycle between them at the same time. It is created by an imbalance in neurochemicals. Lots of scientific studies suggest it is both hereditary and genetic. However, situational and environmental issues can increase or affect episodes. There are several types of bipolar but two are most prevalent. Type I patients who spend a great majority of time in manic moods and Type II patients who spend most of their time in a depressive state.

Depression

Depression can be characterized by hopelessness, specifically a lack of joy or the inability to enjoy things. You can be plagued with thoughts of suicide or self-harm. You can feel excessively guilty, have difficulty concentrating, and may gain or lose weight. In extreme episodes, it includes psychosis which manifests as delusions or hallucinations (both auditory and visual). It’s common for untreated patients to self-medicate through substance abuse.

Mania / Hypomania

Mania is odd because it can be like a euphoric “high” or it can be excessive anxiety. It can include obsessive, racing thoughts. It makes you impulsive and extremely irritable. You can become a thrill-seeker and even sexually promiscuous. It makes you have poor judgement and can result in spending excessive amounts of money. It can cause you to lash out at others and creates long bouts of insomnia.

Okay, now that we are through the scientific and more sterile descriptions, let me say, I was diagnosed with bipolar as a preteen after first being misdiagnosed as a child with major depression. That’s very common at that age.

Lastly, this post isn’t designed to scold anyone. It’s about educating people about an illness that is grossly misunderstood. Here are 7 things about bipolar I want people to know.

Things About Bipolar I Want People to Know

We Don’t Like Being Called Crazy

This should be a given. But I’m still shocked at how many times people use the word “crazy” to describe someone who has bipolar. It’s really hurtful. We aren’t “crazy.” You wouldn’t call an amputee “stumpy.” See? We feel the same being called “crazy.” We have an illness. It’s a physical illness that affects us mentally. It’s caused by the brain not producing neurochemicals like serotonin. Similarly, we don’t like being asked mockingly if we are “off our meds.”

We Aren’t Bipolar

Allow me to explain. There is such a huge stigma surrounding mental illness, but in particular bipolar and schizophrenia. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve heard people say, “she’s bipolar.” We aren’t bipolar. We HAVE bipolar. You’d never say, “she’s cancer.” It dehumanizes us. We’re aren’t our illness. It doesn’t define us and therefore not our identity. It’s just one aspect of our life.

You Don’t Need to Be Afraid of Us

Contrary to what the media and non-medical professionals would have you believe we aren’t going on a rampage. And no, psychotropic drugs don’t turn us all into mass shooters. Those people have all kinds of contributing factors, including circumstances completely unrelated to mental illness.

Not all bipolar patients are violent. In fact, that’s not as nearly common as you might think. For example, with Type II patients we are far more likely to hurt ourselves.

We Don’t Want to Disappoint You

We hate when we have to cancel on you because we’re sick. We’re just as disappointed. It’s embarrassing – especially if our caregiver (a spouse, parent, etc.) also has to cancel to take care of us. And please, don’t say we should “plan better.” No one plans to be sick. We have no way of predicting when our mood will change and no way of gauging how bad it will be. I don’t even have words to describe how hurtful and abhorrent that is.

Can you imagine saying that to someone who has cancer? Seriously. Imagine someone has cancer and is going through chemotherapy. They have an important function and can’t go to the event after a chemo treatment because they feel horrible. You would never say things like, “well you should have planned better. After all, you knew you had cancer. You knew you were going to have chemo. You should have planned better.” Yeah, it’s that disgusting and insensitive.

We Say Things We Don’t Mean

They say bipolar is the great melting pot of mental illness. It has anxiety, depression, irritability, OCD tendencies, hallucinations, insomnia, and sometimes what looks like ADHD. When we are in a manic stage, we are often impulsive and irritable.

Being impulsive can cause us to not think through the consequences of our actions. When you combine that with irritability, it makes for lots of unkind words. Oh we regret it afterwards, believe me. But in the moment, there is little self-control. We damage and lose relationships over it. It hurts us as much as it hurts you. When those feelings pass, we are embarrassed by the destruction we caused.

Suicide Is Always Knocking On Our Door

This is a really sensitive issue, but it needs to be discussed. We might seem okay. We might even seem thick-skinned. But we are always resisting the urge to kill ourselves. We have a hard time coping even with the simplest of life situations. If something upsets us deeply, we can despair very quickly.

Then there are times when we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. It’s exhausting to fight this everyday. We just want it to stop. We want peace. Suicide is a very tempting option.

We Pretend to Be Okay

Most people have heard the old adage, “fake it ‘til you make it.” However, for us, it’s really true. I don’t want to make it seem like we are lying to you everyday. But the truth is we’re always trying to make it through the day. Similarly, it never goes away totally. I’d say we are either better or worse. Medications don’t cure it. They only make it more manageable. Bipolar is a chronic illness and therefore we live with it everyday. We just don’t always talk about it. We deal with it on our own as much as we can.

Those are the things I want people to know about bipolar. I hope I’ve provided some insight on bipolar. If you suffer from bipolar, I’d love for you to leave a comment below about what you would want people to know. If you’re looking for other wellness topics, check out Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Marriage.

March Scripture Reading: Anxiety & Fear

Anxiety and fear are two emotions constantly clawing their way into our minds. Battle those negative feelings with March Scripture Reading: Anxiety & Fear

March scripture reading

Spiritual Amnesia

There is something unique about fear, anxiety, and worry. It creates in us spiritual amnesia. We forget about all the times God has rescued us in the past. We fail to remember that God has worked out our problems again and again. Fear creates spiritual amnesia. In other words, we forget how good God really is! But don’t think you’re alone. The apostles went through it too.

Jesus Calms The Storm

I love the book Fearless by Max Lucado. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. The first chapter uses a bible story we all know very well – Jesus calming the storm. The story can be found in three of the four gospels. Each one says Jesus is asleep in the boat and stays asleep even as a great storm arises. Why is he asleep? Because He’s in control of it! Our “storms” don’t scare Him. Furthermore, there is something unique in the gospel of Mark. As waves crash into the boat, the apostles cry out in fear.

“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

As Lucado points out, these men have been traveling with Jesus for years. By this time, they have seen Him cast out demons and heal the blind. He has raised Lazarus from the dead and fed a crowd of 5,000 with just a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. And yet, as soon as they were fearful, the spiritual amnesia sets in. It’s like they totally forget that He is Lord. They don’t ask Him to calm the storm. Instead, they question his character. “Don’t you care if we drown?” And don’t we do the same? When fear overtakes us, don’t we forget that He is Lord and in control of it all?

Our Small Prayers

The truth is, we limit God with our prayers. Allow me to share something deeply personal. My husband and I are currently going through a season of anxiety and fear. In August, my husband will be losing his job. His employer is closing down his office. Currently, we are scrambling to find an engineering job, but in particular one that will not uproot us from my hometown.

So I began praying, asking God to send us something here that would match his salary. After a few weeks of praying, God revealed truth to me. – one that I had forgotten. I was limiting God by my prayer. I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask God for what we specifically want, but we limit God when we do so.

You Do Not Have, Because You Do Not Ask

Read what the apostle Paul writes :

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Boldly! Some translations say “confidently.” To be confident means with no doubt. That is the first point I want to make – that we can confidently go directly to God and ask for help and be assured that He will indeed help us.

But wait, it gets better. One of my favorite verses in the bible is Ephesians 3:20. This verse is why I say we limit God with our prayer. Ephesians 3:20 is why we should pray “Your will be done, Lord.” Here is the truth: Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,”

Ephesians 3:20

That’s right. God can do more for you than you can possibly imagine. Even better, He wants to! And if you don’t believe me, read John 10:10: A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

This doesn’t just mean in heaven. Eternity has already started, my friend. His will is the best for you! It’s bigger and better than you can imagine. When you get scared or anxious, don’t run away. Instead, run to God and listen to Him comfort you in these scriptures.

Scripture Reading Anxiety & Fear

This month, I’d love for you to join me in scripture reading, anxiety and fear. I pray these verses bring your peace and remember that God loves you, He is in control and wants the best for you.

Anxiety & Fear

Colossians 3:15
Mark 5:36
1 Peter 3:14
Deuteronomy 3:22
Zephaniah 3:17
Psalm 34:7
Isaiah 35:4
Psalm 55:22
Proverbs 12:25
1 Peter 5:6-8
Psalm 56:3
Romans 8:38-39
Revelation 1:17
Exodus 14:14
Psalm 118:6Isaiah 41:10
Philippians 4:6-7
Isaiah 35:4
Psalm 34:4
Proverbs 3:5-6
Luke 12:22
John 14:1
Joshua 1:9
2 Timothy 1:7
Isaiah 41:10
John 14:1
Psalm 94:19
Jeremiah 17:7-8
Matthew 11:28-30
John 14:27
Psalm 23

In the comment section below, please tell me how I can pray for you in this season of anxiety & fear and I’ll add you to my prayer list.

Join me next month for April’s Scripture Reading: Grief and Depression. Also, if you missed it, see also February’s Scripture Reading: Love & Kindness