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Mental Health

Bipolar Disorder 101: Living in Daily Chaos

A cigarette burning to ashes and tar

Bipolar disorder is a bitch. Plain and simple. Experiencing extreme highs and lows comes with the uncertainty of not knowing when the high will crash and reverse. It’s crippling when it wants to be, and I have no upper hand most of the time. Yet, many people still don’t understand Bipolar Disorder nor what it is like to live with it. For most like myself, being misunderstood makes for isolation which further deepens the problem. Thus, I am here to give a real-life perspective on what it is like to live with Bipolar Disorder in hopes to give understanding and spread awareness.

Bipolar Type II

A picture of a depressed girl holding up a mouth drawn on paper to make a smiley face. This is meant to represent Bipolar Disorder and how quick moods can change.

Bipolar Disorder exists in many ways more than just one. There are different types that affect people differently. My Bipolar is type II, and that involves severe depression and hypomanic (mild mania) episodes. It is very disabling when I’m depressed, and fiscally dangerous when I’m manic. Depression leads me to lost days and expired opportunities while hypomania leaves me near penniless with dead hopes and ghosted dreams. There is rarely a middle ground to stand on.  

Bipolar II is unpredictable. Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m experiencing hypomania or a high from caffeine. At those moments I can feel a crash coming because I know that my highs won’t last. And although I have never experienced full-blown mania, I’ve had a taste. Hypomania leaves me wanting more because all the energy and excitement that comes with it is addictive. Even more so because it’s the polar opposite of my strongest suit, depression.

Bipolar Disorder is a Disability

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Sometimes I forget how much of a disability Bipolar Disorder truly is until I can’t leave my bed and am crying for no reason. There are days that I plan with excitement and enthusiasm for living life to the fullest. Days where I would take a road trip with my dog to the best hiking spots. A set of twenty-four hours involving the beach, meditation, and making money. And all of those plans crumble constantly within the fists of my instability.

Relapsing into depression makes every tiny task a major mission. Even brushing my teeth feels like a ginormous effort and showering too. Yet, it’s not just the inability to take care of my hygiene that leaves me feeling disabled. Anxiety in combination with depression in an episode makes driving, working, and functioning a problem. And while these aren’t excuses for being unproductive, they definitely are factors to take seriously.

Living With Bipolar Disorder

A man sitting down reading a newspaper on fire. Representing the chaos of Bipolar Disorder and functioning in the midst of it.

As I mentioned before, Bipolar Disorder inhibits my life in many ways. Every day I’m fighting to stay stable, productive, and secure. Lately, I’ve been letting go because of how exhausting it can be. Every day feels like I’m holding up a roof from collapsing on my head with my bare hands. And this is every single day. Regardless of whether or not I’m high or low, it is a struggle in its own right.

To live with Bipolar Disorder is to play outside in the sunshine with no umbrella in hand for the rainstorm that will come by surprise. For that reason, I can barely trust my happiness and stability sometimes. In fact, happiness to me is as trustworthy as a womanizer who has you tied around his finger. All of my to-do lists become the center of a joke when it’s raining above my head. In short, living with this is a hot mess most of the time.

Medication and Cocktails

medications for bipolar disorder

When I say cocktails, I’m not talking alcohol. Many with Bipolar Disorder would see this term and recognize the slang immediately. A cocktail is a combination of medications meant to stabilize Bipolar Disorder. Personally, I take an antidepressant, antipsychotic, mood stabilizer, and a stimulant for ADHD. Most of the time my medications work perfectly, up until the point when they don’t anymore. And that’s when the adjustment period comes and becomes a game of Russian Roulette.

Yes, adjustment periods with medications are like Russian Roulette. You don’t know exactly how coming off one medication and starting another might make you feel. There had been times where I felt amazing and refreshed while having other times in which everything set me on fire. Currently, I’m taking a medication that makes me sleep twelve hours a night. Although the ultimate goal is to wean off, these things take time and patience; this is the persistent theme with medications.

Moving Forward with Bipolar Disorder

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If you’ve made it this far into the article, thank you so much for reading! That being said, the only way to move forward and up is to be open. People forced to suffer in silence tend to suffer ten million times harder than they would by default. If you are suffering from Bipolar Disorder, speak out about it, embrace it, and make sure society hears your story. And if you are simply an outsider, open your heart to vulnerability and personal truths. Mental illness, in general, is a subject to take very seriously in order to save lives everywhere. 

Bipolar Disorder may be a major part of my life, but I refuse to let it BE my life. Even as I’m writing this, I can feel myself anxiously awaiting a futile crying spell. However, through my tears I know that I am strong. Writing about this makes me stronger. Knowing someone out there can benefit from my vulnerability gives me wings. And even though Bipolar Disorder is my gravity, raising awareness and educating others helps me defy it.

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