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How would you describe Bipolar


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My partner can't empathise with me and my BP, for the obvious reason that it's outside the range of normal experience.

How would you explain what it feels like? Why is mania not the same as just being really, really productive and successful? What does it feel like when the mania stalls and you're waiting for the fall? What goes on inside when you're diagnosed and suddenly half your life may have been delusion? Why is it so important to find out what was real?

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My partner can't empathise with me and my BP, for the obvious reason that it's outside the range of normal experience.

How would you explain what it feels like? Why is mania not the same as just being really, really productive and successful? What goes on inside when you're diagnosed and suddenly half your life may have been delusion? Why is it so important to find out what was real?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Bipolar is NOT outside the range of normal experience. DSM criteria specifies at least a week (?) for mania and 4 days for hypomania. Normals can and do have brief periods whether it lasts an hour or two days. Tell him, imagine how you feel when you're screaming at the world series, or beating up a mortal enemy or just win the lottery, or crowned king of the planet--but nonstop.

I believe there is an area between psychosis and baseline which continues to be you. Eg. Hypomania is all real. All you. As you go through life, you change, how you want to be changes, meds included. When one smokes pot or pops lamictal, that is a decision.

A. Show/read him the DSM. B. Everyone's "bipolar" is different, so this is mine. Apart from mood swings, it also translates into a tendency to be extreme about most everything, every shade of emotion. Psychomotor agitation. Aggression. Giddiness. Belligerence. Useless energy because I'm too spacey and distracted to do anything.

My life was not a delusion. Life is exhilarating/scary/mysterious. Aren't we always told to live for the moment, chase your dreams, buy this now? We just had the courage to dive in. Sometimes you really hit the mark. Sometimes not. We had the audacity to try. And life is depressing as well, needless to say.

Many normals "accomplish" what we do without the benefit of bipolar. By this I mean the end result. Not the means. In fact, I might even say they outdo us with the sheer stupidity of their acts sometimes.

Overall, I'd say just give your friend lots of literature on being bipolar. There are lots of sites on it like about.com/bipolar (?), psycheducation.org, and great books on living with it. And maybe start a journal for his eyes as well.

best,

7

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Heya Unregistered,

Yeah.  My DH started (finally) reading "An Unquiet Mind" (Kay Redfield Jameson) and looked up and said, "I don't get this preface."

That's where she describes being caught by a cop at 2am while running frantically up and down the parking lot at the psych hospital.

*I* got that.

I get mixed manias, so this is I guess not the typical mania.

For me:

You know the feeling when you're so ready to crash and sleep for a week.

But there are a hundred things you need to do.

So you run around like an idiot doing all of them at once.

Plus.

You know those times when you -- for a split second -- think, "I suck," but it's for weeks at a stretch, always "I suck."

At the same time as you are doing a hundred things.

Plus.

You hate the world.

Plus.

Everyone else is both too damn slow and out to get you.

I think everyone has had one or more of these feelings at some point.  Just in BP they are prolonged and exaggerated.

That's what I think, anyway.

--ncc--

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Heya Unregistered,

Part 2.

How does it feel when half my life may have been delusion, and why is it so important to find out what was real?

I feel a bit like I got stuck at age 11.  I learned a lot in school and progressed in maturity and vocation.  That was me.  Is me.  Could have been better without BP.

In terms of my relationships with others, I thought I was being myself but I was me plus whatever the hell BP was doing to me.

So my relationships are what I'm needing to define.  Redefine.

Plus my inner self, what "normal" people don't even think about when they say "me" or "I."

I'm trying to sort out what's me, and what got messed up by BP.

So far, to be honest, saying things like, "I know I did ___, but I couldn't see it til now" isn't doing it.

Bit by bit I guess.

More books.  Patty Duke's book (the medicine is out-of-date but she is so honest) is I think a good place to start if your partner, like mine, likes to read.  I'm also recommending he read Dr. Phelps' site (prefiously noted by someone) and The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide.  Surprisingly enough, Bipolar Disorder for Dummies is actually useful but basically a copy of the Survival Guide. 

I'm pushing for the same understanding as you are.

--ncc--

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Since your signature includes BPII, if you haven't already I'd suggest reading Mood swings without "manic" episodes: Bipolar II - more than plain depression, but never delusional or psychotic. This has a great amount of information, goes into detail about the entire spectrum of bipolar disorder, and at the same time is in plain English.

Good luck!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thanks, Revlow, I'll take a look. FWIW, I was dx'd BP2, but for the fun of it, I have been delusional...

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I really like the Civil War statement.  I have always tried to explain that as there is an electrical storm going on in my brain.  I have kept my emotions stuffed deep down inside for so long, no one really knew; until they started escaping faster than I could catch them!

BP II is tricky too because you sometimes don't have the symptoms that a lot of people can recognize immediately, but they are there; man oh man are they there!

I am SO much better now that I FINALLY seem to be on the right mix of meds -- for the FIRST time in my life!

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A lot of the time, for me, it is like I am in my own little world.  I can communicate with people on the outside, but it generally involves a lot of anger and irritation.  The things I see and hear are real, at least to me they are, so that makes them real.  Mania is like an uncontrollable blur.  I have no clue what I am doing or saying most of the time and don't remember much of it later on.  Depression is like being stuck in a hole that just keeps getting deeper and deeper and suddenly it feels as if I am being buried alive.

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Just quickly, I thought you might be mildly intersted in my homework. We had to write some sonnets for english class, and I wrote one on just that topic. Shakesperian form and everything:

A two face'd feind, friend and foe alike,

Standing on shaking ground, never stable,

At once my joy, at once my bane and strife,

Walking a rope, hanging by a cable.

Joyous bells resounding, foolish false hope,

Ready to explode with fool's gaiety,

Romping and playing, acting like a dope,

And worshiping an insane deity.

Unending dispair, overwhelming black,

All pressing depression, all seething night,

Forever entraped, never geting slack ,

An internal rain, choaking out all light.

Eventhough it seems I'm only Lazy,

It turns out I'm really very Crazy.

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I love coming up with colorful ways to describe what bipolar is like.

It is meeting a charismatic and enticing cult leader. You are drawn into every word it says. Everything it suggests is wonderful and spiritual and irresistable. If only someone had explained this to you sooner! It all makes sense now! "You mustn't listen when the others tell you that this is wrong." it says. "Other people are not so enlightened, and won't understand it." You nod eagerly, desperately. You must have more of this wisdom and energy! Money ceases to matter. Sex is a doorway to a better plane of existence. "You can become your own god!" it tells you. And you believe it. The secrets of the universe become known to you because you have listened. You know all, and you must tell everyone.

And then it dies. It dies and isn't resurrected. Nothing divine happens. Everything goes back to normal. It was a lie and you believed it and the world is just as awful as you always thought it was. Everything is terrible and worthless and it's not even worth trying anymore. Nothing you do will matter to anyone anyway. Hopeless. You are so tired. Food doesn't taste good. Jokes aren't funny. Humanity is a cancer on the face of the earth.

At least... that's what it's like for me.

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