I thought twice about writing on this topic. It’s controversial in that, so many people have so many opinions and not all of them are positive. Actually, most opinions are negative. Mental health is the sort of topic that’s not so widely discussed. I guess it is getting more notoriety than before but people who suffer from mental illnesses still feel ashamed to talk about it for fear of being stigmatized. I am vocal on this topic because I feel people need to know that they are not alone. There’s something comforting in feeling like you have support or that you are not completely misunderstood, that out there, somewhere – someone is feeling what you are feeling and you are not alone.
People who suffer from mental illness can still live a normal life. They can still achieve success and they can still do everything that a person who does not suffer from a mental illness can do. See, mental illness doesn’t render you incompetent. It may impede your progress in other aspects of your life, but it certainly doesn’t make you “less than” your counterpart who does not suffer from mental illness. It’s something that happens in the brain. It may be genetic, or it may be triggered by some sort of trauma or it may just occur because you are receptive to the affliction.
I’d like to elaborate on Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that affect a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. These shifts in mood and energy levels are more severe than the normal ups and downs that are experienced by everyone else.
People suffering from bipolar may experience a range of feelings to different degrees. These affect different areas of a person’s life.
People may experience the following:
Mood: Mood swings, sadness, elevated mood, anger, anxiety, apathy, apprehension, euphoria, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities.
Behavioral: Irritability, disorganized behavior, aggression, agitation, crying, hyperactivity, impulsivity, restlessness or self-harm.
Cognitive: Unwanted thoughts, delusion, lack of concentration, racing thoughts or slowness in activity.
Psychological: Depression, manic episode, agitated depression or paranoia.
Sleep: Difficulty falling asleep or excess sleepiness.
Weight: Weight gain or weight loss.
Also common: Risky behavior, false belief of superiority, fatigue, or rapid and frenzied speaking.
Treatment can help but the condition can’t be cured. It is chronic and can last for years or be lifelong.
Treatment often involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Therapies consist of support groups, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychotherapy.
Medications may include anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Supportive care refers to hospitalization.
And specialists consist of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
This affliction renders one fragile and feeling everything in extremes. Feelings are exaggerated and cannot be escaped. There are many things you can do to keep episodes at bay, but for the most part, no amount of treatment or medication or enlightenment can help when experiencing an episode. The sufferer may know that what they are feeling is because of the illness however, even though they can understand that, they cannot help what they are feeling.
I’ve heard some people saying “Just think positive thoughts”, I think if it were that easy, then nobody would be diagnosed with Bipolar. A bipolar person cannot help the way they feel, even if they may know better.
Also, Bipolar disorder does not mean having a split personality. It does mean having extremes in moods. People with bipolar more often than not, also have problems managing anger and unpleasant emotions. They have a tendency to view people and situations as either “all good” or “all bad”. They present feelings of emptiness. The mood swings involving anger or depression are usually in response to stressful events or relationships. People with bipolar may also have poor self-image. There are often feelings or tendencies leaning towards self-harm.
Trust me when I say this: If it were so easy to just snap out of it, I’m pretty sure sufferers would “snap out of it”. I highly doubt any normal, sane person would feel this if they had the option of feeling anything other.
Recognizing triggers and keeping risky behaviour at bay is a good way of ensuring you don’t have an episode. Having a sense of purpose and believing in a higher power helps too. BUT…even with all of this, you can still have low moments.
Mental health is so important. It is important to keep yourself healthy and take the time out to tend to your personal needs.
“It took a long time to realize that you can do everything right and still end up unhappy. You can say all the right things, do exactly as your told, follow in the footsteps of all the people who swore by their success and their strategy surrounding it, and you can still end up displaced – because you didn’t ever choose to listen to yourself. The best thing I ever did for myself was simply listen to what I actually wanted. I drowned out the guidelines, the advice, and the ‘shoulds’. And I messed up. I made mistakes I’ll never forget. I hurt people I loved, and I got hurt.
See, self-discovery isn’t this comfortable, miraculous thing. It can get ugly, it can get confusing. Its gritty, it’s hard. It’s difficult to confront yourself sometimes, it’s difficult to be the person who does things differently, who doesn’t settle.
But it’s the greatest gift you will ever give yourself. It will push you towards figuring out what your own personal version of happiness looks like; and when you grow on your own terms, when you figure out what actually matters to you, and when you carve out your own path, you live on your own terms. You love on your own terms. You become the person you have always wanted to be, rather than the person you were always told to be and that is beautiful. Because when it comes down to it- life is about making yourself proud on your own terms. It’s about finding a happiness that works for you.”
– Bianca Sparacino
You see, whilst bipolar sufferers may be plagued with the illness, they are also actively trying to find their happiness and own it. It’s a long and daunting process and there are a lot of bumps along the road, but there is also room for a lot of learning and self-discovery along the way.
So, if you have someone in your life, suffering from any type of mental health issue – be supportive and show some love and care, it might be the only love that person feels that day.
If this post helps you understand the illness a little more or brings awareness to this topic, then I’ve done my job.
As always, I wish you peace, love, and infinite happiness.