I deal with both bipolar (including mania and depression) and generalized anxiety disorder. There are lots of good resources out there about how people experience mental illness, and I'll share some of these in a future post, but I wanted to share some stories of my experiences with these illnesses. In this post I'll give a general overview of my experiences, and in future posts I'll share some stories.
Having anxiety can be very difficult at times. Fearing what people think of me, worrying about the future, and being regretful, anxious, and guilty are common occurrences.
Anxiety can make it extremely hard to focus—my mind will race with worries instead of doing a task at hand. It can also lead to depression as the guilt from my past mistakes pile up. My sleeping can become difficult as I have trouble turning my mind off to stop worrying.
With my bipolar disorder, my experiences are different each time I have an episode. Bipolar used to be called manic depression. Honestly, I’m not sure why it’s changed. Manic depression describes what bipolar is like: manic highs and depressive lows.
Everyone who has bipolar experiences it differently. Several designations exist for bipolar including:
- Bipolar I
- Mixed Features
- Rapid Cycling
- Bipolar II
- Cyclothymic disorder
Types of bipolar disorders
My official diagnosis is bipolar one with rapid cycling and mixed features. With bipolar one, I experience euphoric highs and extreme lows.
Rapid cycling means having four or more bipolar episodes in a year. This doesn't happen to me every year, but when it does it makes for a tough year.
I have also had times where I have a manic episode and slip into a mixed state. In a mixed state, I am moody—I can go from high energy and irritable to low energy and ready to cry with little provocation on the same day.
This past December and February, I dealt with some bipolar symptoms. In December the mania was more prominent, which led to over-communicating, restlessness, and lack of focus. In February, the mania was less severe, but the depressive phase afterward was more pronounced. I was wearing my emotions on my sleeves. When my neighbor asked how I was doing, I got choked up and nearly started crying.
While each episode has had it's challenges, I've also been blessed by an amazing support system of friends, family, and mental health practitioners who have helped me get through each episode.
So thank you to all who support and look out for me. I hope this post is helpful for those who live with or know people dealing with mental illness.