Many members of my family suffer from bipolar disorder. They suffer with shame and they suffer without others knowing unless an episode happens. The world even with as much information that we now have does not recognize those who suffer from mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health defines signs & symptoms of bipolar as:
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide.
About 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6 percent of the population age 18 and older in any given year,1 have bipolar disorder. It is often not recognized as an illness, and people may suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life.
Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings—from overly “high” and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.
Signs and symptoms of mania (or a manic episode) include:
Increased energy, activity, and restlessness Excessively “high,” overly good, euphoric mood Extreme irritability
Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another
Distractibility, can’t concentrate well
Little sleep needed
Unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities and powers
A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual
Increased sexual drive Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
Denial that anything is wrong
A manic episode is diagnosed if elevated mood occurs with three or more of the other symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for 1 week or longer. If the mood is irritable, four additional symptoms must be present.
Signs and symptoms of depression (or a depressive episode) include:
Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood
Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex
Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being “slowed down”
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
Restlessness or irritability
Sleeping too much, or can’t sleep
Change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or gain
Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical illness or injury
Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
A depressive episode is diagnosed if five or more of these symptoms last most of the day, nearly every day, for a period of 2 weeks or longer.
While most may not be aware of it there are two types of Bipolar. The second type leaves an individual with manic episodes. The mood of the individual relies upon depression tendencies. Anxiety commonly social anxiety disorder accompanies this type of Bipolar. My mother suffered from this type of Bipolar. Often staying long hours in bed or alone away from us children. My grandparents hired individuals to come in and care for the house and children. My father worked many hours to support the family.
If you suffer from a mental illness my prayers are that there will be a chance for you to find a doctor to help you reduce the pain you are in. Yes, I say pain as even invisible illnesses have pain as much as physical illnesses.