Understanding Your Loved One's Mind - Bipolar Disorder

J.McGrath By J.McGrath, 10th May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Mental Health

Many people have loved ones suffering from Bipolar - Hear from a first-hand experiencer what happens to Bipolar sufferers and how you should handle their illness.

Diagnosed

When I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I was only seven years old. I went from a world of first grade, Barbies, and colouring books to a world of medications, strange doctors, and my small mind turning against me in everything I did.

Some people tell me that the beginning of it was probably worse for those around me; that all of it was worse for those around me. The people who said this haven't suffered the way people diagnosed with Bipolar have suffered. I'm here to give some clarity and shed light on the subject of how it feels to be Bipolar so that others who aren't diagnosed can understand the struggle we go through day in and day out.

Most of Us

People who suffer from Bipolar disorder are often unmedicated and act reckless. Many experiment with drugs to self-medicate, which only makes their condition, mental state, and sanity deteriorate. Of course, those who self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, or both don't realize this. They see the drugs and alcohol as time away from feeling like everything in their world will implode at a moment's notice. Unfortunately, it is quite common for those who self-medicate to wind up taking their own lives in a few years' time.

On a better note, there are also many diagnosed people who live normal lives. When they seek professional help and are put on a medication that works for them, they can lead successful lives to the point where people around them wouldn't think anything was wrong at all. There are numerous celebrities who have Bipolar disorder, some of whom take advantage of the disorder and use it to entertain. Some celebrities with Bipolar disorder are Jim Carrey, Tim Burton, Robert Downey Jr., and many more. These people are successful, are famous, and were able to use their disorder as something that would get them ahead.

What Happens

When someone is suffering from Bipolar disorder, it feels like their head is spinning repeatedly. Some would associate this with confusion. It's not confusion. It's chaos. It's downward spiraling. And it's hell. Of course, it's like that when we are unmedicated.

When this chaos is happening, we feel like we can do anything. Those around us will tell us that we are acting weird, but we won't see it. If we do notice it, we might even feel like it's a good thing. We will be promiscuous, we will have these grandiose ideas that involve completing something or doing something that would seem difficult or even impossible to do, such as taking a trip that wasn't financially possible, writing a novel in a week, etc. These things won't seem difficult or impossible to an unmedicated person, however. They will feel impulsive all the time, spend money on things they don't need, make impulsive decisions like leaving a loving spouse, investing in something they cannot afford, etc.

Personally, I've been through all of the above. I wasn't unmedicated, but I was on the wrong medications at the time of all this. I had those grandiose ideas. I wanted to take a trip to Italy and thought I could write a novel in a week. I had impulsive spending issues, and I kept breaking up with my deployed boyfriend because I was impulsive. I constantly bought things I didn't have money for.

Since I didn't see my behaviour as erratic, I didn't see the problems. However, once it all hit me, I broke down, cried for hours, and apologized to my deployed boyfriend incessantly because I realized what what happening to me. Not long after that, I had a change in medication. These periods of chaos can occur for months at a time, as mine did. During these chaotic times, the person with this disorder will not realize what they are going through until the climax of the chaotic period, where the chaos is at its strongest and suddenly ends. We will realize what is happening then. We will seek help (some of us anyway) and get better.

What You Can Do

Thankfully, my mother always knew when I was going through these awful periods and always told me about them. Of course, I'd deny it until the end, when I realized she was right. She knew when I was going through chaos because she studied and researched this illness for hours a day to try to understand me. If she hadn't, I don't know if I'd be married to that boyfriend, who vowed to love me in sickness and in health, regardless if I'll be battling that sickness until I die.

Before you dare say, "I'm sure there is a cure somewhere," you're wrong. Bipolar disorder cannot be cured. It can only be managed. There is no cure to this date, and I don't believe scientists are really looking for one at this point. With that said, I'll introduce the first rule:

1. Don't ever tell a diagnosed person that they are not Bipolar or that they can be cured. Unless you have a medical license and you are a true professional, you are in no place to say that. It can get that diagnosed person literally killed.

2. Don't ever, ever tell a diagnosed person to stop taking their medication(s) or to "skip them this one time." Some peers of a diagnosed person will try and persuade them to skip it so they can have an alcoholic drink (since many medications for Bipolar discourage the use of alcohol). If the diagnosed person is convinced to not take their medication(s) or stop them all together, it can also get that person killed.

3. Ask yourself if you'd rather help them or hurt them. If you want to hurt them, do not have them admitted to a mental ward when they are too unstable. They'll say they don't want to go. They'll say they hate you, etc. Now you must ask yourself if you would rather have them hate you or have them kill themselves. If you'd rather help them, even if it means they'll hate you, get them admitted to a hospital if you have the authority/choice.

4. Research this disorder when you get a spare moment. Do all the research you must to know what happens and know what to if the diagnosed person you love becomes too unstable to function. The more research you do, the better you'll feel, and the more knowledge you'll be able to pass on to your loved one when they are well enough to function normally (on medication).

It'll Never Be Easy

No. It won't be easy. Not only for you but for those diagnosed. For me, for your loved one. With proper research, you can understand the science of it and with proper conversations, you can understand what happens in your loved one's head. That is just as important.

There are plenty of Bipolar people who found success, fame, or who have a simple, white-picket fence lifestyle with a family and a great job. Many diagnosed people with Bipolar disorder become doctors to help people with the same problem. A normal lifestyle can be had. It will take hard work from the person who was diagnosed, though.

We will never be cured. Probably not in our lifetimes. All we need to do is manage it, which sounds intimidating, but as long as we take our medication(s) as directed, we can lead healthy lives. It takes effort, research, the help of doctors, and especially the help and support of our family and friends. This disorder is very real and very terrifying for those who have it. I may not be a doctor, but I know first-hand what it's like and how to manage this.

I might be just a writer, but my life is normal, my job is normal, and I feel normal, because I can do everyday activities without being consumed by chaos. I have a wonderful military husband, an adoring cat, a great home, people who love me, and I'm going to school online while leading a successful lifestyle. I'm one of the few who made it out of the hole. And the only way I made it out was because my mother did not judge me. She supported me, admitted me to hospitals when I needed it, and researched this illness so she would know what she and I were up against.

Without her, I would not be married, successful, or alive.

Tags

Anti-Psychotics, Bipolar, Bipolar 1, Bipolar 2, Bipolar 3, Bipolar Children, Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar Disorder Symptoms, Bipolar For Loved Ones, Bipolar In Children, Bipolar People, Emotional Disorder, Emotional Illness, Mental Disorder, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mood Disorder, Mood Stabilizers, Mood Swings, Therapy, Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Meet the author

author avatar J.McGrath
I'm a writer with a wide variety of interests, obsessions, and knowledge on those interests and obsessions like TV shows and aliens. My writing will focus on current interests for now, though.

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Comments

author avatar Nicole
15th Jul 2014 (#)

I am very proud of the woman you have become and I am glad you made it out of the hole too. Although I still worry about you, all the time, I know you are in good hands. Just remember the words you spoke......... when you start to act weird and people need to take action, it is only to save your life. Love you so much sweetheart. It's been a long road but you made it :)

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