First, lets discuss the characteristics of the disease. The National Institute of Mental Health defines Bipolar Disorder (BD) as a manic-depressive illness that produces unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and decreases the ability to function and carry out everyday tasks.
There are four types of BD in which all involve changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely high, elated, and energized behavior (mania) to very sad, down and hopeless periods (depressive episodes). The less severe manic periods that is known as hypomania and this is what I experience with my disease.
BP makes me feel a combination of feelings that ultimately limits my enjoyment and fulfillment of life. Each day I go through various feelings of:
A few years ago, before I experienced multiple traumas in a somewhat short time span, my daily life consisted of maybe just a few feelings:
As you can see, there is a vast difference between feelings experienced before compared to now. BD is exhausting, to say the least.
And another thing, I used to be able to enjoy adult beverages. Who doesn’t enjoy a good stout or a good scotch? Now, I’m not supposed to mix alcohol with my medication. I still do occasionally enjoy one, but it doesn’t go without worry.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts regarding my personal journey with BD, you’ll have read that prior to being diagnosed myself, I only knew of what BD looked like in the form of my sister. I’ll be the first to say that I wasn’t very informed about the disease. That is no longer the case. Personally, I try to stay well informed of what is going on in the realm of mental health awareness, research, treatments and so forth. It honestly baffles me that as the greatest nation that we still lack so much funding for mental health. This morning while waiting on J to awaken (we are going to meet up at the dog park before it gets too hot, when is it not hot here though?) I came across an article that honestly, upset me. Why are we still here with questions regarding BD and other mental health disorders in general? Why is there so much repetition? Why does it seem that R&D for mental health is moving at a snails pace but yet when any mass shooting happens, the first thing the media will assume is that the person responsible has a mental illness. The article originates on MedScape but for some reason the link fails when I try to link to it within this text. You can read the full article via this Google search or here is the same information on Health News 36o. The article aims to answer some common controversies of BD and I think there are two, maybe three physicians that offer their insight towards said 8 controversies:
- Should antidepressants be used in BD? If so, at what doses and in which patients?
- Can antidepressants cause rapid cycling?
- Should neuroleptics be used on a long-term basis as “mood stabilizers”?
- Should the treatment of bipolar II disorder differ from that of bipolar I disorder?
- How can BD be distinguished from borderline personality disorder?
- Is BD underdiagnosed, overdiagnosed, both, or neither?
- How would you interpret or use the new DSM-5 mixed modifier?
- Can attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and BD be distinguished? What is the role of stimulants in comorbid BD/ADHD?
We shouldn’t still be discussing these questions, especially with so much inconsistency. Additionally, if you are up to date (or are not up to date) with current bills awaiting Senate and House votes …here are the two big ones for mental health. Don’t get excited, they seem to be on the back burner. However, if you have around 30 minutes to spare you can read the bills here:
S. 2680: Mental Health Reform Act of 2016
It goes without question that I am angry about my disease. I’m angry mental health doesn’t seem to be as important as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes when it actually should be just as important. Mental health is health. I often wonder, if I had known about mental health disorders when I was 17 years old as I do now, if I would have chosen the same career path that I did. I want to help and not too many things excite me these days …but the room for improvement for those who suffer with the debilitation of mental health really does excite me. I do believe that in my lifetime there will be a huge discovery (or there can be…with the right people fighting for discoveries and funding).
Through my own personal journey of being diagnosed and battling each day I am becoming more empathetic and patient. Sure, there are days when I am angry that my medication has “fixed” me yet. That’s ignorant to even think that it ever will, but I still do hope for it. I hope that one day I can even regain control of myself and reach a stable point to where I don’t even need medication. It’s a long shot, but definitely attainable for some people. Although I am angry, I am inspired and feel empowered. With that said, I am not stable enough to fight the good fight yet…yet.
More than anything, BD has has taught me that helping others is far more rewarding than anything I could do for myself.
P.S. I have missed two deadlines with my school assignments this week which is very much out of my character. I’m not used to failing grades. I have an exam today that I haven’t even begun to read the text required for said test. Without question, this is one of the worst weeks I’ve had in awhile and it has everything to do with BD II.