N.B. I am in no way medically trained, I speak from lived experience & research.
That’s today by the way, and as usual I am feeling reassuringly despairing that no one knew about it! I posted on Facebook to ask for ideas for this blog post, myths that needed busting or things people didn’t understand about Bipolar and no one knew it was World Bipolar Day today! So kudos to the people who were in charge of publicity…!
Anyway, moving swiftly on from their faux pas, I received a diagnosis of Bipolar (to add to my other diagnoses) not long after arriving in France and have been on medication since. I take 2 mood stabilisers, 1 anti depressant & 1 anti-anxiety med in the morning, a mood stabiliser at lunch, and then 2 more mood stabilisers at dinner. It has definitely stopped the hypomania (mild mania) but I still struggle with depression & anxiety, but they are different beasts.
There are 3 types of Bipolar; I, II & Rapid Cycling. In Bipolar I the mood swings from depression to mania, the swings can be a long time apart. In Bipolar II the swings are from depression to hypomania (a less severe form of mania), and Rapid Cycling does what it says on the tin, it covers those people who suffer mood swings more regularly, often without a ‘normal’ period in between. For some, mood swings can be daily, several times a day.
For me, when I was hypomanic I felt amazing, I made sexual decisions that I now regret, I spent money I didn’t have and I slept very little each night. Looking back now, I can see the risks I took and the life I lived was powered by hypomania, but then I would inevitably swing back to depression.
On the topic of depression, and in the wake of the Alps plane crash, I want to add that, while depression can indeed lead to suicidal thoughts & feelings, and even to suicide itself, it is important to realise that depression does not lead to murderous thoughts and actions. I have been horrified and appalled by the way the media appear to be reporting the pilot’s history of depression as a reason for his actions. I know many mentally ill people, and while some may harm themselves, they would absolutely not harm others. I think it is disgusting that the media are allowed to perpetuate the fear and stigma surrounding mental illness.
But back to Bipolar: the International Bipolar Foundation‘s call to action today is to share a photo of yourself with a description of what you are outside of your illness. I, sadly, found this incredibly hard to do. I am still trying to pick apart my personality, trying to discover what is mental illness and what is me, what I like and what I don’t, etc. But below you will see my attempt at being something other than my illness, and one day I hope that the list of things I am will be longer and I wont have to spend hours thinking of them.