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What is it like to have Bipolar Disorder?


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What is it like to have Bipolar Disorder? For those of you with this disorder and for family, friends and spouses, what are the challenges and issues connected up with having someone you love struggling with Bipolar Disorder.

This is a support community for those with Bipolar and for those close family and friends who live with the loved one with the disorder.

I have very dear friends who have an adult son with Bipolar. While he is extremely intelligent and is very successful at work he suffers a lot with his mood swings, particularly depression and irritably and that results in his parents suffering a lot, as well.

What is it like for each of you and what advice can you give to others?

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  • 1 month later...

for twenty five plus years i self medicated because i felt like i was on the wrong planet or living in the wrong time. i stopped drinking almost three years ago and was told if i still had a "bad head" to go to a doctor so i did winter of 07 08. Surprise surprise half an hour in take i was diagnosed, put on medication and asked to surrender a firearm to a family member (yes it gets that bad for me). I also have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and that seems to be a problem as far as anti-psychotics are cocerned, we are working on that.

when i am depressed i hate myself first and foremost wishing some family members could really understand. i put on my happy face for my wife and children but as soon as i am alone for 2 minutes i want everything to go away. The mania (if i'm correct) is like the best stuff you could by, work 24/7 play guitar feel creative and full of life. Kinda want to do everything and see everything. When i'm down (now) being outside and alone is sort of safe though it did not seem to work this weekend, i was ready to call the Dr. and go away for a long weekend at the local hospital, would have been a first. thats a little glimpse.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Bipolar disorder for me is ugly. When I am in the up swing life is great. I have this feeling that I can do anything, I take on project after project because I can hey I don't sleep for days when I am manic. The thing is my mind races and I can't finish anything I start because I race form thing to thing and can't finish thoughts or even sentences. So people have learned not to trust me and that hurts. Hurt and regret are a big part of Bipolar for me. I want so desperately to be respected and trusted. It is like there is a thousand radios blaring at you with all this info at you. Normal people can focus on one radio and turn down all the other ones people with bipolar can't focus and frantically switch from radio to radio getting stressed and frantic. I can grab my husbands credit card and blow our credit. It has taken us two years getting out of one manic episode. My children call me the fun mom because I will wake them up at two in the morning to bake cookies. We do arts and crafts and crazy stuff like dress up and parade downtown. The thing is I quit cleaning the house gets trashed my husband comes home from work and does the washing and cleaning. In my younger years I have stolen my parents car picked up and moved with no money and no job. All because I felt something was calling me and I was so happy. Then boom you crash. All of a sudden you realize the responsibilities you have. My brain feels like it is being squeesed and my eyes want to close. The kids are talking to me and I start to yell. I realize I don't have very many close friend because it is hard to get close to anyone. I look at my husband and think I have ruined his life. Life is dark and all I want to do is sleep. I forget everything including my kids events. Major disappointment to everyone. Medication works, with counseling. There are some mistakes that I have done but I have apologized for everything. My husband doesn't understand totally but he has worked through everything with me. Bipolar people have a few rational days when we know we hurt people and kick ourselves for it but when the swing starts it is a crazy ride that you just try to survive. I know this is a rambling message but I am changing meds and have to come off of one to go one another. I am in the middle of a down swing. Life looks bleak and dark. Tried not to ramble to much.

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1. When I'm functioning at my best, I'm really good at ideas, and acting as a catalyst to get things going, or unblock the blockages in other people's thinking and planning.

2. My overactive brain is really creative with words. I can write really well and am a really great teacher when things are going well.

3. People seem to really want to get to know me at first - I can be charismatic and funny.

4. My secret self is full of hurt and anger and fear. That makes me treat other people with care as I know how fragile people are.

5. I get very anxious and full of dire imaginings at times, and find trust a huge issue (mine was betrayed when I was a child, though I repressed most of the memories until quite recently). Loving someone is terrifying for me.

6. I flare up into anger more and more easily, especially as I've had repeated incidents of prejudice and injustice over the past 3 years - not because of the BP but because of other things. I've become increasingly volatile and that's been difficult in relationships and at work.

7. Medical people are a mixture of good and not so good, and I've had the wrong medication prescribed for me this week - so that makes me vulnerable.

8. I've lost my career dreams.

9. My marriage is going through a really rough patch because my husband hasn't yet 'got around' to reading up about BP...

10. I've spent over 40 years of my life blaming myself for everything that went wrong, ever since my mother bullied me because my father abused me and made me his little princess. This has shaped so much of my life. I didn't even know I had BP until recently. It didn't help that I became religious and began to think I just had to pray hard enough and do enough good deeds to purify myself.

There's more, but you have a life - and lots of other stuff to read.

Jannew

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  • 4 weeks later...

My sister has bipolar, and I have to say, reading these comments, I know it always seems like its better for other people or they have it easier, and maybe if my sister sat down and wrote like you guys are she would say similar things of regret and self blame, BUT I think the people that have posted should be proud of themselves for acknowledging their illness, taking responsibility for it, and mostly just being aware of your effect on your family. I am sympathetic to the fact that there are ups and downs, good days and bad days, the frustating thing about my 30 year old sister is that even when she is doing better, she still blames us for all of her problems. When I try to explain to her how she effects her 5 year old son and our family I don't think she believes me.

So anyway, I hope you don't think I'm being insensitive or making light of your own situations, I just wanted to comment that if my sister wrote any of the above messages I would be so proud of her for at least trying to manage her illness and I think you are all very brave.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I just wanted to post an agreement with donnytree. You all are very brave for sharing your inner thoughts with us. I can only imagine the difficulities of having to live with BP. I see bipolar from the outside and it is scary. To have to live with it everyday is heroic. You should be very proud of yourselves for the determination it takes to face each day. Is there any advice you can give a sister who is trying to help her younger brother face BP? We just want him to take his medication and get some support through therapy. He is so resistant to any help. I think he feels very isolated and different from the rest of our family. He doesn't even want to talk to any of us right now which really hurts. What can we do to help him???!!!!

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi herzjm and donnytree,

Most of the battle for those with Bipolar Disorder, as well as other types of disorders, is admitting that you have the problem, take medication and go to psychotherapy to learn how to control it. Today, more than ever in the past, there is very little reason why a person should feel stuck with bipolar and have to suffer its symptoms. It no longer even carries the stigma it once did years ago. We see Hollywood actors and actresses admitting to it and taking medication.

The central issue for those who will not admit to having this disorder is that we cannot force them to help themselves unless they become so very sick that they threaten to kill themselves or to kill someone else. Even then, after they have been hospitalized and medicated, they may still refuse to admit to the problem and refuse medicines once they are released. It is very frustrating but it does happen.

Have others had to deal with this problem of refusing to admit to this??

Allan

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  • 2 months later...

Hmmm... I understand relatives or friends want a 'quickie help' for their loved ones... & I wish there were a magic wand & some magic powder that could make all troubles go away & make the relatives/friends/loved ones 'behave'.. sigh

I know I'm often a trouble for my parents & sister too... I try to make it up when I can.. I can be 'really really nice' or 'really really terrible' /sigh/ lol.. That's what my sister said one day, fully surprised - I can be much nicer than most people, & a lot of fun, or the complete opposite lol...

I am sometimes also fully aware of it.. :rolleyes:

You must understand something. Drugs are a lottery... A lot of times they don't help at all, or have really bad side-effects, or both (!) Sometimes it takes years for people to find the right 'cocktail' that helps.. or they never find something that would help.. some therapies are quite long-term & useless too.. (I read a professional book on therapies & that was basically their professional opinion) A lot of different therapies exist.. some are more effective for certain things, some less.. Some therapists are great, some just prescribe drugs, while not really helping the person..

I've read a lot of 'self-help' books.. & learnt some really good things from them too.. again, some are really good, some not-so-much..

I have really good things to say of cognitive behavioral therapy, especially for depression.. some books & articles really present it well, so even if a relative refuses to go to a doctor, they might read the book & enjoy it & find the advice helpful..

You might 'get a book for yourself' out of the library & leave it open on a shelf or something.. not really forcing it on anyone.. or maybe read out something & ask their opinion on it? NOT buy it for birthday, that may be perceived as 'intrusion'/trying to 'fix' them.. when most of all people want to be accepted & reassured they're okay as they are, even if they are weird etc. sometimes..

(yes we do know we are weird, pretty much most of the time.. we may do a great show 'covering it up'.. the more others insist something is wrong & we need help, & are unsympathetic etc., the more we are certain they are the ones that really need to change & get some help. Try doing the reverse & you'll see what happens...? :))

Nutrition can work wonders too... please look it up... the whole family can start eating more healthy.. & walks in the sun are really great too..

So best you can do as relatives is to NEVER buy anything with sugar or otherwise unhealthy (read the labels, food additives are BAD!), try to look for healthy food & healthy products (household cleaning products, everyday items) that will cause as little environmental pollution as possible.. cause these are the things that can upset internal balance big time!

...& ask them to go for a walk with you, or to bring you something from the store... (& enjoy some sunshine on the way..)

Be nice & overall friendly, kinda like dealing with strangers, respectful.. When I was really down & a new roommate was really upbeat & generally pleasant - but not too close, that was really great, & I could recuperate in peace..

if you have a problem with their current behavior, & if it's merely annoying & not dangerous to themselves or anyone, it may be better to go away, recharge your batteries, take up a hobby, do something pleasant... if they are being really 'toxic' maybe just let them be & minimize contact... (I personally prefer it from well-meaning 'advice' or concerns, when I'm feeling low as it is..)

I hate to say it & I hope it won't be taken the wrong way, I know some concern is perfectly natural & show of love, while sometimes focusing on the other person too much is a way of not seeing one's own problems or not having to deal with them...

Sometimes families really do 'scapegoating' & fixate on one member who 'needs help' while others are obviously in denial & not in touch with themselves or such, when in fact the whole family could do with some changes & more effective communication strategies & lifestyle makeover etc.

Also, perception of one family member can be really greatly different from perception of another. Sadly it's true that parents or other relatives can behave differently to different siblings.. as we are all different.. (there's a good novel about it, forgot the title..)

when they (we) are cranky, they (we) probably know it.. no further reminding necessary, imo... blaming others can also be just 'venting' & others may see it as 'worse' than the person experiences it..

Maybe reading a book about effective communication, like 'Dealing with Difficult People' (great book!) :) could really help.. If someone keeps blaming others, you can simply acknowledge their anger: 'You sure seem p***ed off' or 'wanna send them to an uninhibited planet outside of known galaxy, huh?' or other torture you can make up, while remaining friendly & uninvolved.. & hopefully adding a touch of humor.. humor is great...

I mean, look at it this way: almost all great people in history (or the media :)) had bipolar or such at one point or the other..

Edited by Angie
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Ermmmmmm! What is it like when you suffer Bipolar?

Well I was diagnosed 16months ago after a stay in hospital and doing varied test regarding my Depression.

When I get on one of my manic's, I go all or nothing!

Take for instance: The other week I posted on this forum site and because I was relying on a answer from one of the Administrators or the moderator, and they never replied, All hell was let loose as they will tell you! I thought that everyone was skitting and calling me, which they wasn't. I was reading into the reply's wrongly. Because of the way that I was feeling at the time, That was the way I wanted to read into their reply's. I wanted them to retaliate! I wanted them to give me reason to argue back with them, and when they didn't, then I would say awfull thing's in a post to their reply so they would then retaliate with me. I hope I'me making sense here?

Because I knew that all this bad feeling I had to get out of me, I took it out on them. It wouldn't even of bothered me if I was to have got band from using the site, at the time. Then to top it all off, It made me worst because no-one even stuck up for me so I hated every one on this site!

I felt so isolated because I live with my son who is 21yrs old, but I couldn't/wouldn't talk to him. He'se my son, and he wouldn't understand anyway! I wouldn't even burdon him with my problem's and still wouldn't! So I couldn't even talk to anyone about my fears! Still can't!

When your in a house 24/7 looking at 4 walls day in day out, it can all get to much! That's when you start fearing the worst of the fears! The Suicidal thoughts! You start to plan your own death, honestly! You think lifes not worth living? You don't want these thoughts, but they just won't go away? The amount of times that I've prepared to commit suicide and some one's come in and stopped me, it's unreal! I alway's think that by commiting suicide is better than living my life like it is? My son tries his best by trying to watch me every second of the day, but what sort of a lifes that? But you feel that low, and I mean low! that it's very hard to carry on with life. I will be honest with you, I don't trust myself at times, regarding my suicidal thoughts!

At the moment I am dealing with it so I'm on a high! But it never last long and you know that so that's what gets you like you are, knowing what's to follow will be a matter of time to come. and it always does!

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Paula, sorry to hear about the troubles & suicidal thoughts etc.

I sorta had them when I was younger, around 16 or so... But the thought how my relatives would feel if I did something like this prevented me from doing anything...

I hope you know people in your life, your son... would be devastated if something like this happened.. because they love you as you are.. even if you're feeling crappy at the time, you're still the Mom..

& even if at the time you may think AT THE TIME everything is bleak & horrible, in a few years - or months! - or even days! - your life may turn around & become much better! (that's what happened to me after high school.. I would have missed many good good memories & new friends, if I did what I thought about doing then..)

- sorry to be off topic a bit.. just wanted to share my experiences.. -

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For me, it's like being on the absolute wildest roller coaster ride you can possibly imagine ... getting pulled this way and that way ... going up ... going down and thru loop after loop with my head is spinning out of control ... and all I want is for the ride to stop!

I wouldn't wish this on anyone...

For those like me, who don't have the means to get help - by which I mean afford to see a Psychiatrist and get medication ... the ride is rougher...

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Even then, after they have been hospitalized and medicated, they may still refuse to admit to the problem and refuse medicines once they are released. It is very frustrating but it does happen.

Have others had to deal with this problem of refusing to admit to this??

Allan

Yes... yes. yes. yes.

To be completely honest fifty percent of the time I do not think I have a problem. Even if I do recognize there is something wrong with me, I start to think it's because of my own weaknesses, or my own laziness. Sometimes I feel like I'm just looking for an excuse to justify everything I feel, and all those doctors that diagnosed me also failed to see the difference between weakness and disorder (because let's all be honest, I don't trust doctors. I think doctors [or most of them] hand out diagnoses and pills like pediatricians hand out lollipops).

I had one suicide attempt that lead to one hospital stay, and the minute I left the medication stopped. I no longer believed medication was the answer. I feel like this truly sums up my experience with bipolar disorder. Is it real? Do I suffer from it? Am I just weak? Am I pitying myself? Am I a burden? Is this all because of some imaginary disorder? Because some lazy doctor planted the idea in my head years ago? Has everything I've done since then only been under the blanket of Bipolar Disorder? Have I let thinking that I suffer from this disorder effect my how I lead my life?

Bipolar disorder makes me feel, in one word that seems to engulf my entire experience: confused.

Really, really confused.

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  • 1 month later...

People with bipolar disorder experience extreme and abnormal moods that stick around for prolonged periods, cause severe psychological distress, and interfere with normal functioning.Bipolar Disorder (also known as Manic-Depression, or sometimes Bipolar Affective Disorder), is a category of serious mood disorder that causes people to swing between extreme, severe and typically sustained mood states which deeply affect their energy levels, attitudes, behavior and general ability to function. Bipolar mood swings can damage relationships, impair job or school performance, and even result in suicide. Family and friends as well as affected people often become frustrated and upset over the severity of bipolar mood swings.

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I too at times wonder how much is the Bipolar and how much is just feeling or reacting to life??? I am scared to get off the medications.. because I am afraid I will kill myslef... but how much of those feelings are brought on by the constant stress I live under?? Perhaps one day If I can get controll over my life and leave the Bad situations I am in behind... I will find peace with out meds...

JT

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I am still learning about this, as I was newly diagnosed less than 2 wks ago. I am currently off work for a period of time and have hopes that in a few wks, once meds are on board and more regulated I can go back to work. I am sole bread winner right now and that is a lot of pressure, cuz if I don't get better fast enough I could run out of $$ for health insurance and house payments and such.

I thought I was having a decent day until I read other folks' posts and it reminded me of the reality of that which has afflicted me ==== I think that way cuz I sure didn't choose IT!

I look back on my life and see how, now that I know about my diagnosis, much of my life and my choices made sense.

I agree with some of the other stuff you guys are saying === I want so much to be successful and respected and liked ( I have had VERY FEW good relationships in my life) and really struggle now with balancing my life. I am 46 and many of my options, if I would have know about BP in the past and had proper treatment, could have been fulfilled. I have sorrow about not being an "available" mother like I would have wanted. There are soooo many regrets that I have.

I am fortunate that I have God in my life and that He redeems me regularly and gives me grace and mercy for the rest ---- if I could just learn to do that for myself.

I am fortunate, also, that my husband seems to have embraced my need for help, love, attention and affection. Oddly enough he is more tender and caring with me now than ever. We have been separated for various reasons since last October and it has been hard. I mostly have just wanted him to go away and leave me alone and let me figure out my mess. But now that we have a "name for it" (my little problem-s-) he seems so much more patient with me....which if you knew him, would seem out of character. I guess that helps me realize that I have taken him for granted and that I should gratefully receive what he is offering me and maybe we can be happily together someday.

Thanks for "listening" to my ramblings....

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  • 4 weeks later...

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