Mental Health

Riding the Roller Coaster Ride of Bipolar Disorder

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Adapted from http://cdn.halfofus.com/

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(Art by: Julius Añasca of Art of Mentally Ill)

Have you ever tried to ride the roller coaster?

It is a thrilling ride that brings you up,… down,… then, circles you around in various directions. It gives you mixed feelings of anxiety, excitement, fear, and in the end even nausea.

Imagine not getting out of the same cycle…

Imagine experiencing abrupt and intense moods that bring you up,… down,… then circles you around in confusion…

 

…Imagine having Bipolar Disorder.

Bipolar Disorder is a type of mood disorder that brings the sufferer to the extreme polarities of mood – the manic and depressive. There are various types of Bipolar and Related Disorders namely Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymic Disorder and substance/medication induced Bipolar Disorders.

Bipolar I is characterized by the classic manic-depressive that comes along with a great challenge in regulating these moods and impairment in functioning. On the other hand, Bipolar II is characterized by hypomania and depression. The difference of Hypomania and Mania is the duration of the euphoric mood and severity either in symptoms or impairment.

Cyclothymic Disorder is given as a diagnosis to those people who experience at least 2 years (for adults) and at least 1 year (for children) of seemingly unspecified hypomania and depressive symptoms.

Finally, the substance/medication induced bipolar disorders. The causation of this disorder comes from drug abuse or medications being taken by a certain person that creates instability of mood and symptoms that could qualify any bipolar spectrum mentioned above.

Being retracted on extreme moods is no fun. It is exhausting. It is frightening. And it drives you in confusion.

Mr.Polka

(Mr. Polka by Julius Añaca of Art of Mentally Ill)

What is it really like to be bipolar? It is not just merely being happy and sad but, it pulls you to extreme form of happiness which is called “euphoria” that could drive a person to do impulsive and dangerous behaviors that puts a person in much risk due to beyond heaven-positivity that one might feel. Then, it pulls a person to the rock bottom of mood which is called “melancholia”  that could make a sufferer have feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and helplessness – eventually, leading to suicidal ideation.

It is still with lack that Bipolar Disorders are understood by merely quantifying it using diagnostic books of mental disorders. It could be through the subjective experiences of people that we may be able to further grasp what suffering from Bipolar means.

Here are some real people who cooperated and courageously told their personal experiences riding the roller coaster ride of Bipolar Disorder. These people belong in a certain Facebook group in the Philippines that supports those who are afflicted with Mental Disorders. It is with consent and anonymity from the following people that their words have been made possible to be included in this blog.

1

“For me, having Bipolar feels like living in two worlds wherein you feel happy having this disorder (referring to effects of mania)  and the other is suffering physically from taking medications continuously (from its probable side effects). But then, when you recognize you are already in that kind of world, people see you as someone who is not normal.”

4

“It feels as if you are in a roller coaster. Hahahahaha. You have abrupt mood changes. When you feel hyper, it goes beyond the ceiling. You feel anxious having the need to do something – anything. But the difficult part of it is that you cannot concentrate well because you are easily distracted. And when you are on your down time, you feel like you are not in your real self. You keep on sleeping and it is either you don’t have appetite or you eat impulsively because it feels like there is emptiness to fill within you. It is also difficult to maintain relationships because of the unstable decision making that goes with your abrupt mood changes.  These often leave you misunderstood.”

5

“In my experience, there are times that I get hot headed when things get repetitive, I get irritable at people who doesn’t listen to me. Then, when I see something good and funny, I laugh it out. And when I hear someone say something bad about me, I hide the pain to myself. My mood changes abruptly, good thing I could cope with it though it is difficult. I know that there are other people that notice my attitude, but I don’t give a damn about them since I am not close to them.”

3

“When I was still not diagnosed and didn’t know anything about mental illness, I enjoyed too much of mania, feeling productive and invincible. But it’s difficult when you are in a depressive mood. If I could just pass this feeling on to others just so they could understand it, I would have. It was in 2014 that I accepted and studied about moods, meds, triggers, etc. Somehow, I have known it better along with my strength and weakness. It is a gift and a curse on itself.”

“Bipolar Disorder is a part of who I am but never defines by it.”

4.1

2

People suffering from Bipolar Disorder may seem to ride in an endless roller coaster ride of moods, but help and treatments are available. This disorder may include irksome symptoms and impairments but, when these people decided to get help, that’s the time they took back the life that was once in captivity of Bipolar Disorder. These people testified that the end point of life is not suffering but hope.

Acceptance is the key to mental health wellness for sufferers that will serve to be a gateway to breaking the stigma – the stigma that burns bridges of understanding about what mental disorders are all about. It is time to speak up, and by what it means is that if you are secretly suffering from a Bipolar or other mental disorders, you start building your bridge by seeking help – a bridge where both sufferers and non-sufferers will be able to walk together in support and understanding of mental disorders.

The life of these people who continue to live despite of their Bipolar Disorder proves that humans have the capacity to thrive over adversaries that once held them down. It seems to have given them a new perspective to ride along the roller coaster as something that equipped them with essential lessons, holding a new perspective that though it might bring them up,… down,… and to circle them around, the experiences they get out of it turns to be an advantage rather than the opposite.Seek help.

Break the stigma.

And build bridges of understanding that will connect you to a support system that will help carry the weight of your burden for fast recovery.

Then, you will see the indispensable trace of life lessons that will enable you to help and see hope spark in others.

The same hope that will burn yours even bigger that will make you aspire that maybe one day, you will just get to see yourself looking at that roller coaster ride from afar.

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Rainier Ladic
A guy from the Philippines whose origin of interest and passion in Psychology and pursuing a career out of it came from resolving existential basic issues. Currently on my last year under the Master's program specializing in Clinical Psychology, working as a Behavioral Therapist in a center specifically doing Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy to children with Neurodevelopmental Disorder. Free time is spent mostly with myself as I introspect about many things, talking with friends, exercising at the gym, writing blogs to release what's on my mind, listening to inspiring and empowering songs, and watching documentaries of various sort.

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