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Mental Health Awareness Week - Bipolar | Tip Top Wellbeing

Today’s blog has been written by a friend of mine.  She will be talking to you about how it feels to have Bipolar Disorder.  Kate is the Vice President of IPSF, a trainer who travels the world, she is studying NLP and manages a mental health illness – having a mental health illness does not equal the end of your life.  Thank you Kate

Bipolar Disorder

noun.
“a mental condition marked by alternating periods of elation and depression”

Seems a simple definition doesn’t it? If only it were that simple!

It usually takes a long while to get a correct diagnosis of bi-polar disorder. Most people are diagnosed with clinical depression first and given medication for that. Medication for depression however, has little or no effect on someone in a manic phase. I know; this happened to me. It took nearly two years for my doctor to make a referral to the mental health team for an assessment after it became apparent medication for depression wasn’t helping. It seems that depression is the first thing to go to when someone finally asks the GP for help and a lot of time is wasted by this assumption. The traditional questionnaire you are asked to fill out is geared to diagnosing depression, and if like me you are in a low phase when you finally book that doctors appointment, it will show you have depression.

Rapid cycling bi-polar means having short to medium periods of each phase and within each phase very short smaller phases! Confused, you try living with it. Here is an example:
I may have periods of feeling very low and lethargic for approximately 6 weeks to three months followed by a period of mania. In my low periods I can experience a period of mania for three to four days, once, twice or even more and likewise when in a manic phases I can plummet into total lethargy for a few days. Friends and family may be supportive, but it is frustrating for them and they do forget I have bi-polar disorder most of the time which can be upsetting for me as I also forget and just resign myself to being the one that always messes up. I have no idea how I am going to be each day when I wake up!!

I am fortunate with my depressive experiences; I don’t ever feel suicidal and so completely worthless I can’t function. However what I do experience is just as debilitating; I have a very low mood and a negative approach to whatever is happening in my life. I resign myself to the fact that I don’t have as much worth as the rest of the world and I must just accept that. I find it hard to accept I am unlovable and undesired even though I know I should just accept it because then at least I won’t keep getting upset by it; just accept it and move on. In fact, the reason my life is not what I wanted it to be is to be expected because who am I to expect anything more anyway, everything I do is wrong. I am so tired I have no concentration, can’t think straight so don’t do anything, what is the point I will only make mistakes and upset people. I am fed up living in a physical and emotional muddle because I feel useless and stupid and I know I am not stupid. I won’t leave the house if I can help it and I suppose I save a lot of water by not showering for days on end.

I wake up at 4:30am. Eyes wide open. Brain on alert. A list forms in my head. Can’t fall back to sleep. Try and read but can’t concentrate properly. So I get up feeling very happy with lots of ambitious plans and ideas. The first few days are not so bad, I go to bed later and wake up earlier but eventually do feel strained and tired. I am feeling very positive, very creative and have sorted out quite a few things that needed doing, from paying bills to planting potatoes. I talk faster and misunderstand what people mean so I get annoyed and snappy. I start tasks and don’t finish them, leaving me and everyone around me feeling frustrated and back to being in a muddle. I am aware I have delusions of grandeur, not the ‘I am the queen of the world and know what is best for everyone’ but a subtle ‘I do know the best way to do most things and if you just accept it and listen you will know I am right’; ‘oh sorry were you speaking I am too busy making amazing plans to listen properly’. Reality kicks in and CRASH! Next phase………

Kate Whitley

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