What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar Disorder or manic depression, is a mental health disorder consisting of periods of elevated mood and periods of depression. People tend to think of Bipolar as extreme highs and extreme lows, but this isn’t always the case. There are many different types of Bipolar disorder and no two people who have it are the same.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
- Bipolar 1 – Bipolar type 1 consists of severe mood episodes of mania and depression. Those with Bipolar 1 tend to suffer from more extreme mania. Hospital stays are more common in Bipolar type 1 patients due to the severity of mood episodes.
- Bipolar 2 – Bipolar type 2 is similar to type 1, but the periods of mania are less intense, and are referred to as hypomania. People experiencing hypomania can be very productive, and the behaviour can sometimes be mistaken for passion and energy. For this reason it’s a lot less common for Bipolar 2 patients to be hospitalised. However, it is common for those with Bipolar type 2 to suffer from long periods of depression.
- Cyclothymic Disorder – Cyclothymic Disorder consists of brief periods of depression and brief periods of hypomania, however they are not as intense as the mood episodes suffered in type 1 and 2.
- Mixed Episodes – Speaking from experience, mixed episodes are the worst. I felt more suicidal during a mixed episode than I did during a period of depression. Mixed episodes consist of short bursts of differing symptoms, and are often accompanied by feelings of agitation, restlessness and changes to your sleep pattern.
It’s important to note that not everyone with bipolar disorder experiences the same symptoms, or the same severity of symptoms. Everyone is different.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder earlier this year following mixed episodes and several suicide attempts. It was the scariest thing that has ever happened to me, but I got through it and I’m now well into my recovery. Not many people who have had Bipolar are able to say that, with suicide rates significantly higher with those diagnosed. I was diagnosed with Bipolar type 2 but it was the mixed episodes I was experiencing that pushed me to seek the help I desperately needed, and ultimately receive that diagnosis.
Diagnosis leads to treatment, and once you undergo treatment for Bipolar Disorder, then there is no reason you can’t live a happy and healthy, and most importantly, stable life.
Treatment typically starts with medication. Bipolar is a disorder of the brain and medication is often needed in most cases. Medication commonly used to treat Bipolar Disorder are:
- Mood Stabilisers
Other methods of treatment such as talking therapies also work well alongside medication. Patients are usually encouraged to keep a mood diary to track patterns in their moods. This can help identify the type of Bipolar Disorder they suffer with.
How common is Bipolar Disorder?
Around one in every hundred people will develop Bipolar Disorder during their lifetime.
Famous People with Bipolar
Bipolar is more common than you think, with plenty of famous faces who have lived or are living with the disorder, including:
- Demi Lovato
- Catherine Zeta-Jones
- Jean Claude Van Dam
- Russell Brand
- Stephen Fry
- Sinead O’Connor
- Kurt Cobain
- Carrie Fisher
- Amy Winehouse
Bipolar isn’t all bad…
It’s hard living with Bipolar, but it’s not all negative. During the up times it can fill people with extreme passion and creativity, spurring them to do incredible things. As you can see from the list of celebrities above, many people with Bipolar go on to be successful. Not only that, it makes us strong, and empathetic, and many other wonderful things that people fail to see.
As long as you commit to recovery, there is no reason why you can’t lead a perfectly normal life. I spent years searching for stability losing hope that I would ever find it, but it does get better – I promise. I’m proud to have Bipolar, and that’s why I’m making it my mission to help more people understand the complexity of the illness.
It seemed appropriate to share this blog post with you on World Bipolar Day, hopefully those who didn’t know much about the illness have now got a better understanding. If you’re living with Bipolar, just remember you’re a warrior, and if you’re supporting someone with Bipolar, then you’re a warrior too. It’s not easy, but life is definitely worth it.
Do you have Bipolar? What are you experiences? Let me know in the comments!