Monday, January 3, 2011

Bipolar Disorder - It's not a choice I would make.


About four years ago I was diagnosed with a "disorder." The diagnosis was triggered due to the shift work I was dealing with while working at Potlatch Corporation. I worked two 12 hour days followed immediately by two twelve hour nights. The crazy sleep schedule was too much for me and a close friend noticed things weren't quite right about my thoughts/behaviour. She suspected Bipolar Disorder. (Formerly known as manic depression... ) I went through a questtionnaire with a psychiatrist (a PHD) and he confirmed the Bipolar Disorder. This was very scary to me. I had heard of BP D before, and it always seemed extreme and very negative. I wondered if that meant I was crazy... loony... wacko...

Actually, it was just that they gave me a name for symptoms I had experienced for quite a long time... probably beginning in my teens. It was (after the initial fright of it) kind of comforting to know that there was a name for what I go through, and a possible treatment.

I was assured that I was not crazy; that I am normal, and that my life will go on (and be better than before) with an understanding of the disorder and how it affects me. Basically, I tend to have high energy moods/days followed by low energy depressive moods/days. (Mania / Depression : this is where they got the name manic depression) I take some medications that help my brain not run a thousand miles a minute (sure, I like racing CARS but not racing thoughts!) However, this medication tends to slow me down a little too much, so I take another medication to pick me back up a bit. The combination really works well for me and I feel more "normal" than ever!

I do notice a difference in my behavior and mood if I don't take my medication, and it really isn't a great thing to miss the meds, so I continue them. Many people out there don't understand the need for medication and think that the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies are just out to make money by drugging everyone (I believe that a portion of that is true - companies that try to make a profit are not always altruistic in nature)... however, I believe that my quality of life is greatly improved through medication.

Life with mild Bipolar Disorder isn't as bad as I thought, in fact, the worse part of BP is when people describe someone that is moody or has emotional difficulties as probably being Bipolar... and they mean it in a derogatory way - not in a way meant to want to help or understand them. Since not everyone I talk to knows that I am mildly Bipolar, when they label someone in this way it really bothers me.

Instead of judging people and labeling them in such ways, we all should try to understand each other and seek to help (in loving ways). If you suspect that a friend or loved one may struggle with Bipolar Disorder, please help them by first understanding that it is an affliction - not necessarily a choice to behave in such a manner - and secondly, encourage them to see a doctor or trained mental health counselor / psychiatrist. It may even save their life. (Especially if they are BP and it is severe... sometimes their behavior can put them in dangerous situations.)

Most of all, be kind and loving. Isn't that the essence of the Golden Rule?


Virginia Cox said...

Bravo! Now that I'm raising two little girls with special needs, I notice how often people call each other 'retards' or 'retarded' in a joking or demeaning manner. It hurts! They have no idea.

Anonymous said...

I have bipolar 2, too. It's crazy how I work in mental health but I would never dream of disclosing this about myself to anyone on the job. I'm currently way under medicated, and I can't believe that nobody notices. Keep speaking the truth. Let's loose the stigma.