Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2016 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
Bipolar disorder is tough to live with. It is a mental illness of extreme up and down emotions. It takes different forms, and what may be manic for one is not necessarily the same for another. The intensity of symptoms can vary.
At the highest, Bipolar disorder is manic, with lack of self-control, lowered inhibitions, and grandiose ideas. A person in a manic state may sleep very little (who needs sleep?) eat very little (I don’t need food) and perhaps overextend themselves physically (I’m invincible).
In a manic state, a man or woman might be dangerously reckless and impulsive, highly irritable or aggressive, unusually energetic, or non-stop talkative. Like most mental illnesses I am aware of, mania causes a divide between thought processes and reason. Hallucinations and delusions may occur.
When I was in the hospital for major depression, I met a young man who refused to take medication for his Bipolar disorder. “I feel good (manic) I don’t need meds.” A young woman tried to describe her manic experience. She said she didn’t take care of herself physically, planned to learn Chinese in 3 days, spent too much money, and was promiscuous.
At the other extreme is Bipolar depression. This can be every bit as low and destructive as severe major depression. Persons with Bipolar depression may stay in bed, go on medical leave from their jobs, withdraw from family and friends, and experience other depressive symptoms.
I saw a woman years ago standing outside a CVS and asking for money. “I have Bipolar and cannot work,” she was saying. No doubt she was not exaggerating. Bipolar disorder is sometimes rapid-cycling, such as many mood changes in a day. It is often gradual, with longer periods between stages. This means mania or depression can last from days to months at a time. Either way, it is hard to hold down a job.
Justin has Bipolar disorder and was generous enough to share his story on CompassionateLove Radio. I learned from him that mania does not equal happy. A “mixed mania” state, which is what he experienced, includes the high energy and agitation with anguish and hopelessness simultaneously. This is a dangerous position because impulsivity and despair can lead to suicide.
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.