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Looking after ourselves

bipolarbunny
Community Guide

Ask Me Almost Anything About Bipolar

Hello forumites, I wanted to create a space where carers of loved ones with Bipolar Disorder could ask questions about Bipolar from someone who actually has it.

 

Perhaps you do not feel comfortable asking your loved one something about their illness, or maybe you are just working through what it all means to be Bipolar.

 

I have over 14 years lived experience with Bipolar 1 which translates to mania, depression, mixed episodes & rapid cycling. I also have bouts of dissociation & anxiety as a direct result of the Bipolar. I've received all sorts of therapies, tried living off meds and on meds and off meds again. I am currently on medication & do weekly therapy sessions with a clinical psychologist.

 

I am by no means an expert on the subject but through my own personal journey I have researched, experienced, made mistakes, had severe meltdowns, had tremendous breakthroughs, found what works, found what doesn't work and lived the daily roller coaster.

 

I appreciate how difficult it can be to have your questions answered, as it can be a frightening topic to address. I wandered around in the darkness for years before I knew what was happening to me. 

 

So I am happy to share my experience with you and help out by answering any questions you may have in relation to what it's like to live with Bipolar Disorder.

 

If I cannot help with an answer, I will do my best to find an online resource for you to read through, within the guidelines of the SANE forums.

So ask away, I am an open book. 

 

BB 🐰💙

 

@Peonies @Daisydreamer @Shaz51 

32 REPLIES 32

Re: Ask Me Almost Anything About Bipolar

Hello @bipolarbunny 

What a wonderful  thread 

My husband had lots of MI diagnosis before bipolar 2

And for a long time he did not want to talk about it 

As a wife , I went through all the emotions that I was not doing enough to  help , feeling  guilty,  felt I was to blame

Learning what you can and taking it one day at a time helps but also talking and sharing 

@Sophie1 , how are you going  

Hello @Heather1 , @Anastasia 

Re: Ask Me Almost Anything About Bipolar

@bipolarbunny 

 

@bipolarbunny  thankyou thankyou thankyou

 

Mr S's bipolar presents itself with irritable highs and aggressive depressions so he gets angry often and easily (because of his ASD).

 

He has told me that during his meldown tantrums there is always a small part of him watching it and wishing it wasn't happening but he can't stop. However, sometimes when I ask him days later about something said to me or made me do he either doesn't believe it happened or claims to have no memory of the event at all.

 

Your thoughts?

Re: Ask Me Almost Anything About Bipolar

Hi @SJT63  thank you for your question and I can definitely identify with much of it so hopefully I can help shed some light. 

 

First of all obviously everyone is different, bipolar disorder is on a spectrum so my experience & symptoms may be different to Mr S's. 

 

But what I can tell you is I get the irritable highs and aggressive depressions as well. It seems to be a general "theme" on a lot of informational sites, that being bipolar means you experience happy highs (Mania) and very sad lows (Depression) but that is a gross misrepresentation of the illness. 

 

Mania can be euphoric, dysphoric or both. It sounds like Mr S experiences dysphoric mania, which is what I also experience. When I am "high" I am very rarely happy. I am generally angry, frustrated, anxious, very irritable and have a quick fuse. The smallest things can set me off. I have learned over the years to hold back or internalise that anger and frustration, but sometimes to the point where it can make me physically sick. But it can still bubble out and quite often will do so, because it is not always possible to control the energy behind it. 

 

And essentially that is a typical sign of mania an over abundance of energy and if the mania is dysphoric and there’s nowhere for that energy to go, it will manifest as angry outbursts, rage over the most stupid or innocent of things and some people can physically lash out. If I feel this outburst I isolate myself to keep myself and everyone else safe. I have never physically lashed out at anyone, nor would I ever, but in the past behind closed doors when I’m on my own and my frustration has boiled over to rage, I’ve been known to punch door frames and break my knuckles or hit myself repeatedly in the head. These behaviours have been spontaneous and yes there is a small part of me sitting in my head watching all this going on telling myself to stop acting like a lunatic, but that part of me is a witness and has no control whatsoever over my rage. I will talk more about that part in a second. 

 

I have learned over time to channel that energy when I feel it coming on into a more productive means and that has substantially changed my distress and trust me it is extremely distressing to go through. I can only imagine how upsetting it is to see Mr S go through that from your perspective. But I guarantee it is very distressing for him as well. When mania is that way for me I feel like a monster. I feel like no one could possibly love me and I feel helpless to stop it from occurring. I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to be around me, because I don’t want to be around me either. 

 

I have learned with a lot of trial and error what helps me get through those episodes. For me it’s physical exercise or what I like to call “Exorcise Exercise”. Because essentially that’s what I’m doing, exorcising the rage and hostile energy from my system. I run, I ride my bike, I punch my punching bag (might be a good one for Mr S), I lift weights. I do something physical to burn out those horrendous feelings. 

 

Another thing I do is I have worked hard to identify my triggers. There is definitely a point where manic irritation that you can control gives way to rage where you lose all control. So if you can burn away that energy before it reaches that point, more often than not the mania will not turn to rage. 

 

From your perspective as a carer when Mr S becomes infuriated the best thing you can do is walk away and keep yourself safe. Words thrown during a manic outburst may not be intentional, but they still have the power to hurt and you must protect yourself from that and if you have kids you definitely need to protect them from that. Think of someone in a manic rant as a 3 year old child having a tantrum. You cannot reason with them, or calm them down. The best thing you can do is remove yourself from that situation until the storm blows over, and it will blow over and then talk to him about it when he is calm. 

 

Try not to judge and I know that can be a tough one. But perhaps ask him about what upset him, what does he think triggered the outburst. But only do this if you feel it won’t set him off again. 

 

Aggressive depression is often a sign of a mixed episode, at least it is with me. A mixed episode is when you show signs of both depression and mania combined in one episode. It is not dissimilar to a dysphoric mania, but the major difference with depression is there is no energy whatsoever. If it’s a mixed episode there could be the despair of depression mixed with the energy of mania. 

 

When I get depression there is no other way to put it other than say, I am pissed off with the entire world. I become extra paranoid. The whole world is out to screw me over. I have a complete misanthropic view of the world. I become anhedonic, which means I lose interest in everything I normally love to do. Some days I cannot get out of bed. Sometimes I won’t shower for days because I just can’t see the point. I become self destructive and sabotage goals and dreams I’ve spent months or years working towards. I cannot look people in the eye, even my therapist, cause I feel as if they will look straight into my soul and discover the fake and worthless piece of sh*t that I am. And being like that, feeling those intense emotions makes me bitter and angry.

 

If it’s pure depression I don’t have the energy to care that I’m worthless or thinking about suicide, but if there’s manic energy involved, I’m just pissed off enough and energetic enough to do something stupid. This is a very dangerous place to be mentally. If this sounds like Mr S and he becomes aggressive and makes threats to self harm take them very seriously. Take him to hospital if he will agree to go with you, if not call a mental health team to come and assess him. If he makes threats to harm you or lashes out physically, get yourself and your kids somewhere safe pronto. As with mania you cannot reason with someone in a state of depression.

 

As with the dysphoric mania, this type of depression causes so much distress mentally to all parties concerned and I cannot emphasis enough how you must protect yourself. I honestly think anyone who cares for someone with bipolar is incredibly brave, incredibly strong, incredibly loving and incredibly selfless. I couldn't do it. 

 

I know it sounds all doom and gloom, but there is hope. Medication is a big help to level off the extreme highs and extreme lows, but not all meds work for all people. It’s that spectrum again. 

 

For me antipsychotics help enormously with the pointy ends of my mania and depression. They help keep me in a zone where I can learn to identify my triggers, where I can recognise an episode coming on and take steps to lessen its impact. They also keep me safe. My antipsychotics have taken away my suicidal ideation completely. But they do not stop the mood swings altogether. 

 

Therapy for me has been a game changer. I have learned so much about myself, my illness and I have learned to own my bullsh*t. I have learned to forgive myself for things beyond my control and I’ve learned to kick myself in the pants when I’ve needed it. I’ve learned that introspection is a powerful ally when living with bipolar. 

Sorry I've written a novel already, I'll answer the rest of your question in a second post.

BB 🐰💙 

 

@Shaz51 tagging you in Shazzy, you might find some of this info helpful. 

Re: Ask Me Almost Anything About Bipolar

Back again @SJT63 

 

The other thing you asked about Mr S is that..

 

“He has told me that during his meldown tantrums there is always a small part of him watching it and wishing it wasn't happening but he can't stop.”

 

This is so true. I have this sensation constantly during an episode. I’ll try and put it in a way that helped me understand. Think of the human body as a car, your brain is the engine and there are two people in the car. One of the people is you (or in this case me or Mr S) and the other person is the bipolar. When you are driving, the bipolar is just a passenger. You are in complete control, but the bipolar is in the car, sometimes it is completely quiet which is peaceful, sometimes it’s a back seat driver giving you instructions, which is annoying but for the most part you can ignore it and sometimes it grabs the wheel and kicks you into the passenger seat and you are helpless to stop the car tearing down the highway out of control. You as the passenger are fully aware of what is happening, you may be screaming at yourself to take the wheel and take control again but you are frozen in your seat and at the mercy of the bipolar. 

 

In a sense it is a type of dissociation. When I am in an episode, I shrink inside my head and the reality of what is happening outside my head is beyond my control. I personally can still recall everything that happened, mostly what I said, definitely if I upset someone, but I do suffer pockets of memory loss, not often, but particularly when manic, your brain is firing so fast you can’t keep track of your thoughts let alone what you are saying or shouting. And it is true that some people will black out during dissociation and not remember anything they have said or done. 

 

In saying that there is absolutely no excuse for abusing someone or continuing destructive behaviours once the episode or tantrum has come and gone. When you are back in control of that car and the bipolar is back in the passenger seat, the buck stops with you. I mentioned early that therapy taught me to own my bullsh*t and this is what I mean by that. 

 

There is the illness and there is the person and while during an episode you may not be able to control certain reactions or behaviours, outside of an episode you can control yourself. It can be a difficult thing to differentiate and learn at first, but there is a difference. Being bipolar is definitely not an excuse or ticket to be an abusive a**hole.

 

So yeah, I guess that is a lot to take in. I’m not sure if it’s been helpful or not, I hope so. If you have any questions about what I’ve written or anything else please don’t hesitate to ask. 

 

And on behalf of Mr S, thank you for being there for him, for wanting to learn more to be able to help him and for loving him. You are an angel. 

 

Remember to always look after yourself too! xx

 

BB 🐰💙

Re: Ask Me Almost Anything About Bipolar

@Shaz51 You are amazing Shazzy. I cannot imagine the stress, anxiety and sheer emotional torment of supporting someone with mental illness, especially bipolar. 
But please my friend know this, in fact sear it into your brain and your heart. 

 

It is NOT your fault. 
It was NEVER your fault. 

Don't EVER feel guilty. 
Bipolar is an illness, no one is to blame for that, especially not you!
You being there for Mr Shaz is AMAZING!!

You loving Mr Shaz and sticking by him, and wanting to learn and help him is AMAZING!!!

It is a journey of love of learning and of hope. Healing and recovery takes time, for both of you. 

You know I'm always here for you, to answer questions, to hear your frustrations, to just give you a hug. 

Keep being you Shazzy, you are MORE than enough you beautiful thang!! xx

 

BB 🐰💙

 

Re: Ask Me Almost Anything About Bipolar

Hi @bipolarbunny thank you for creating this thread Im not diagnosed as yet but am soon seeing a Phychiatrist kind of starting or restarting a journey of dealing with my mental health with support of Health Professionals Id like to ask in regards to Bipolar are some of these behaviours present 1.bouts of crying,2.sleeping alot and literally no motivation to move or get up,3 feeling exteremly isolated but at the same time overly stimulated by tv screen,Technology and feeling the need to be in a completely quiet non stimulating enviroment,4 Paronoid thoughts that are continuous especially at night time,5 trouble sleeping in the night waking in the middle of the night thinking about things,6 Suicidal thoughts,7 withdrawing and possibly dissasociation,8 behaving in a self loathing manner towards self and being quite angry with those around you,9 being very sexual and being sexual fast with someone,10 pushing people away at random only to want them close and being clingy when they leave,11 laying in bed talking to yourself out loud while having intense paronoid thoughts and feeling fear sorry for the long list of questions 

Re: Ask Me Almost Anything About Bipolar

also occasional nightmares about bad things that happened in your waking life

Re: Ask Me Almost Anything About Bipolar

Hi @bipolarbunny 

 

I just wanted to reach out to say thank you so much for creating this particular thread Smiley Happy

 

Sharing your own experiences in relation to living with bipolar disorder is so incredibly generous and I have no doubt that you’ll be able to offer some amazing support and guidance to so many community members Heart

 

Thank you so much again Smiley Happy

 

ShiningStar Heart

Re: Ask Me Almost Anything About Bipolar

Hi @LostAngel first of all good news that you are seeing a psychiatrist soon, so give yourself a big hug for making that decision as it takes a great deal of courage to make that move. Self diagnosis can definitely be a tricky business and it's very important that we get the help we need from the professionals. From what you've written I will try and address each point (without breaching guidelines 🤞🏻) and share what I believe compares to my own experience. 

1. Bouts of crying are a common symptom of depression, especially if it's the raw guttural crying that feels like it's coming from your soul. I often cry myself to sleep at night in the midst of a depressive episode, sometimes if I am in great despair I will wail like a child and not be able to stop. 

2. Sleeping a lot and/or a lack of energy and/or will to get out of bed or perform any self care, like showing or eating etc is another common symptom of depression. 


3. Being hypersensitive to light and sound is a symptom of bipolar for me. Too much light, flickering light in particular and even low voices, but especially loud noises at night are distressing. When I'm depressed the world also can take on a slow dull lifeless hue. But when I'm manic it's like the colour, contrast and volume got turned way up, everything is much brighter, my hearing is much more sensitive. I often use the comment "you know you are manic when the sun is too loud."

4. Paranoia can be a symptom of bipolar, but it can also be a symptom of ptsd and other MI's. Hyper stimulation during mania can cause normal levels of paranoia to ramp up. 

5. Trouble sleeping, trouble waking, continual waking through the night and thinking about things so you can't get to sleep, like rumination, ie thinking of past traumas, worrying about future problems, etc can be a symptom of bipolar and other conditions like ptsd and other MIs. One notable thing about bipolar is however the lack of need for sleep. So you may have what I call a "busy brain" lots and lots of thoughts firing thick and fast and you can't shut them off. You may then fall asleep but wake up after only two hours and not feel tired at all like you hit a full nights sleep and are ready to start the day. That feeling of high energy and busy brain and a lack of sleep is a good indication of mania. 
If however it's like you are really tired in the morning, have no energy and can't function even though you've been up all night. It's probably not mania. Ruminating thoughts (thinking the same thing over and over) and insomnia can also occur when depressed. 

6. Suicidal thoughts are a symptom of depression and are to be taken VERY seriously. If you have suicidal thoughts tell someone you trust straight away, try and get yourself to your doctor or to emergency. 

7. Withdrawal can be a symptom of depression, dissociation can occur in both depression and mania, or be a seperate disorder entirely. Dissociation as I understand it can be triggered as a reaction to fear, at least it's that way for me. It's like the brain self guarding itself. It is very common amongst people who have experienced trauma. 

8. Feelings of self loathing and anger are symptoms of depression. I struggle with them both during severe depression. 

9. Hyper sexuality and poor judgment or risky behaviour are symptoms of mania. 

10. Pushing people away, but still wanting them to hold you at the same time is something I do too. It can be a behaviour linked to depression and other conditions like ptsd. 

11. Talking to yourself out loud, verbalising the thoughts in your mind, if you have a feeling that you must talk and can't stop yourself, it's called pressured speech and is a symptom of mania. I once sat in my lounge room one day a week before my first ever therapy appointment and talked out aloud to myself, the thoughts in my head for 9 straight hours. I was full blown manic. Pressured speech can also be you are talking with someone but they can't get a word in and you can't shut up, you just have to talk. 

12. Nightmares, anxiety dreams are common with mental illness. Night terrors are a common symptom of trauma / ptsd. 

Okay so as I said earlier self diagnosis is never a good thing. And I can't tell you what you have or don't have. But from what you've described to me you have a really clear understanding of your own symptoms which is half the battle. 

If I can make a suggestion. Before your appointment with your psychiatrist, write down a list of everything you experience on a piece of paper and take it in with you. It can be overwhelming and sometimes you forget things, so having it in front of you will be a good prompt. Also write down a list of questions to ask and take a pen in to write down the answers. It can be overwhelming but don't be scared to ask a question. This is your health and well being and you have the right to know everything you can. 

I will also post a couple of links below from the Black Dog Institute for you to check out that really helped me understand my symptoms a little better. One is a questionnaire which you could fill out and take into your appointment to help your psychiatrist get a good picture of what you are experiencing. 

 

I hope this has helped you out a little. If you have any more questions don't hesitate to ask. I wish you all the best with your appointment, please let me know how you get on. xx

 

BB 🐰💙


BDI - Bipolar Info

https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/resources-support/bipolar-disorder/ 


BDI - Self Test

https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/resources-support/bipolar-disorder/ 

 

 

 

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