Sunday, October 12, 2014

I Am Bipolar But Not Crazy

If you have not figured out by the title of my blog... I am one of 5.7 million Americans who lives with Bipolar Disorder. Notice I said the word "live" and not "suffer". I really do not like to the term suffer because if I use the term "suffer" I believe I hinder or limit myself to merely what people think someone with Bipolar Disorder is capable of.

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I guess I should first tell you what my full diagnosis is because in the mental health world there is actually a couple of types of Bipolar Disorder. I have Bipolar II Disorder with rapid cycling and generalized anxiety and they symptoms are very similar to someone who has Bipolar I Disorder expect my ups or elevated moods are not as extreme or less intense and are called hypomania or hypomanic episodes. I also experience the unexplained mood changes of the up and downs at least 4 times a year. Someone with Bipolar II tends to have more episodes of depression but still cycles between high and low moods.... I know it is a mouthful.

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I often get questions so I thought I would address them here

How do I function?

I often have to laugh at this question and want to ask back... Well how do you function? Well the answer is simple I do just like anyone else. The fact is most people with Bipolar Disorder especially Bipolar II lead normal functioning lives. I think people are often confused with this question and really want to ask question what is to be Bipolar and what happens when you are either "up" or "down". However, I will get to that later on in this post.

Am I Crazy?

I love this question!!! I am no more crazy than you!!!... Haha. There is still very much a stigma around mental illness and I am very aware of this. I have never been ashamed of being Bipolar as living PCOS. I strongly believe Bipolar disorder and along with a lot of experts believe this disorder underlying cause is caused by problem in certain brain circuits and balances of certain chemicals in the brain. I basically point it out like this.. why I am going to be ashamed of something I have no control of? I did not cause or ask to be this just as someone did not ask for particular illness mine just so happens to be in my brain.

I guess what else people want to know or hint around about "am I crazy" question is if do things differently, do off the wall things, or think differently? The best way I can answer is that "perhaps". Each person who lives BP disorder is truly unique individual and how they approach their disorder and their symptoms and what they do with them. I know often people are concerned with someone who is bp that because they think or act differently and sometimes in a negative manner that they jeopardize a lot things. I can tell you I have probably made my share of bad decisions (but has not everyone?) but I strongly make an effort not to make choices that would harm my relationships, careers, and reputations.

Is It Hard To Be A Wife And Mother?

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I also love this question and I can only assume what is daily life for me with adding the normal life stresses of being a wife and mother. I honestly really do not know how to answer this question or what people are looking for. Are they wanting to know what happens when I feel down or up? Well I can answer that a little bit a later but what I thought I would do is this section is right about what I experience in a "normal day" or my daily life.

One of my symptoms for BP disorder no matter what my mood is...normal, meh, up, or down is rapid thoughts, flying suddenly one idea to the next, the inability to shut my mind down. I often look at this symptom as my blessing and curse. My mind basically runs 24/7 and with this I often come up with ideas, things I want to try, how I want to approach a problem, and so on. However, with a mind that runs 24/7 it can often be a nightmare when I am laying there and my mind won't shut up. I can lay there for hours just thinking sometimes solving the world problems to thinking about a spot light I saw and how pretty it seemed.

I can lose my attention/day dream during the day no matter what my mood is and having two little ones can very much aid to this so I have to try to stick a schedule/routine. This is a huge benefit for my family and me. The reality is if I do not stick to schedule everything and anything happens as well as nothing. However, this is one of my biggest battles because I love to fight my routine/schedule often.

Rapid cycle the fact is my mood can switch without notice... I know nice huh? My moods I am actually really aware of and some days I can feel tiny bounce back and fourth from the daily events. Now these events are no different from any other wife or mother but they for some reason trigger mood changes for no reason. Now you think this would a be a nightmare for my family? However, not really because I usually do not show these mood changes outright....usually.. these are something I keep inside until I am can right them out that night. As I said earlier in my post I make an effort and choices not to harm my relationships. My family especially my children are not the reason for my mood changes so they do not be feel results for something they did not do. They are also too young to understand what is going on and it will be a long long long time to even understand what Bipolar even is.

So Umm... What Happens ..When You Know.. You Have A Major Episode?

Well the fact is I live with Bipolar and I have gone through major mood episodes and I will likely go through more down the road. I have gone through both up and down major episodes both leaving damage in its pathway. I can go into detail explaining how they happen or when they happen but in reality I cannot pin point when they actually started but rather I was in them from my support system. These major episodes can last up for months if left untreated. However, as far as I know I have never had a major episode last that long but I can never pin point when the actually start but rather when I am in the middle of them and need to get back to normal.

When I am in the major episode the first thing I do is get back to my doctor as soon as I can. I take medications to help treat my bp disorder as well other things. I am strong believer that bp disorder or the most part should be treated with medication with other types of treatment because of being related to a chemical problem in the brain (even though each case is different). With a major episode I figure my medication is no longer doing its job and it needs to be adjusted. I not only go to a doctor but I actually go to a psychiatrist and have great insurance that allows me great care. I also try to figure out what my "trigger(s)" was and if it is something I could change in my life. I also amp up of my daily therapies of music, reading, and crafting! Having these type therapies helps brings out of whatever episode I am in and back to me.

The key or goal is when you are in episode is to get out of it as soon as possible!

How Do I Treat My Disorder?

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I am very proactive. As I stated early I go to the doctor asap if I am in episode but just because I am not in episode does not mean I am monitored. I see my doctor at least once month who helps monitor my medication and whether I need additional health like needing to speak to a counselor, which I have done in the past. However, having an almost 3-year-old and a 1-year-old counseling is not an option.

I seek alternative therapies for my bp disorder. Even though I take medication for my disorder that is no the end of the story. I cannot simply take a pill and will be good (I wish). I listen to music, craft, reading, clean, cook, and enjoy time outside to keep my life as stress free as possible. If you are happy and stress in life the happier you are in general.

I have a support system. A lot of times I cannot tell when my mood is shifting but I am luckily to have a wonderful support system my mother, husband, and a couple of close friends who are willing to stand up and ask me and tell me they think there is something wrong.This is often something very hard for someone to do for both the person who is bp and the people living with the person bp. However, when you reach this level of trust and love your disorder is very easy mange and you are able to get out of your episodes easier (usually).

I understand my disorder. I slightly have a leg up on my disorder and and a lot of other people, ironically I have a bachelors in psychology ;-) . I also have a strong background in biology and chemistry. I am not only reading books, peoples personal experiences, but also published articles, peer review journals, and so on. I also plan furthering my education and helping others with mental illness I just have not narrowed what area of psychology I want to go in yet so just dabbled in a few master level courses.

So here it is.... I AM BIPOLAR NOT CRAZY

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