Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms

Depressed 😦

We all feel a little blue or ‘depressed’ at times.  Having a major depressive episode,  though,  doesn’t even begin to compare.  The word ‘depressed’ and ‘depression’ are used so loosely nowadays that I feel they have lost their real meaning.

So what does ‘real’ depression look like?  Bad,  dark,  sad,  angry,  irritable,  sleepy,  weight loss,  weight gain,  hedonic (beautiful word meaning ‘having no pleasure in things you previously received pleasure from’ ),  listless,  time just passes,  isolation,  hermit,  dropping out of social life,  not taking care of yourself (i.e.  no cooking,  eating habits down the drain,  no showers,  no brushing teeth),  no housekeeping,  hopeless,  restless,  despair,  thinking about death and ultimately (trying to) commit suicide.

Phew.  And the list is probably not even complete,  depending on who you ask.

What can I say?  I have felt it all,  sometimes all at the same time.  Obviously I have never committed suicide.  But I have come oh so very close several times…
Here am I,  but by the grace of an awesome God!!    

(Hypo)Manic 🙂  Are you crazy? 
The official meaning of the word mania, which comes from Greek,  is: “to be mad, to rage, to be furious”.  Giving me one more reason to like the name BD instead of manic-depression.
Hypomania means “below mania”.  Let’s start with that one first.

What hypomania means is: being very intense (for other people,  that is),  having a flight of ideas,  talking a-mile-a-minute,  racing thoughts,  needing less sleep (4-6 hrs),  very active,  driven,  throwing caution in the wind,  higher sex drive (the fact that I am single doesn’t make me sexless,  even though I don’t have sex with someone,  you know.  However,  I do feel a bit blue in the face for sharing this.),  constantly interrupting people,  irritable,  easily distracted,  being impulsive, over-sensitive to sound, smell and light (or in other words: heightened senses).

Examples from real life (Yep,  mine. Who else?)
What I share here I realised in hind sight,  after my diagnosis.  A sort of aha-erlebnis.  Aha,  so THAT is what was going on.  It makes sense now.

Throwing caution in the wind / easily distracted for me it meant  simply crossing the road without looking at the traffic, for instance.  A good friend told me once that she can tell by my driving what mood I am in. Oops!

On being impulsive,  I once decided I was going to be a missionary in England and terminated my health care insurance.  BIG mistake!  My insurance broker had to move heaven and earth to get me back in.  Also,  while a friend had loaned (sp?) me money because I was short of it,  I suddenly decided that I simply needed to buy this beautiful ánd expensive book.  When she later confronted me,  I only could look at her sheepishly.

Irritable? – I have been known to erupt in anger outbursts.  Very uncomfortable, especially since at the time I didn’t know what was happening with me.  Had to ask forgiveness many a time and thankfully was extended it just as many times.

Talkative –  you can say that again!  I remember very well that as a child I became at occasion a virtual chatterbox.  Now I start talking to complete strangers.  Not only that,  I share with them personal stuff.  Boohoo… this hurts, peeps.  When it comes down to it,  I am a little shy by nature,  so baring my soul to a complete stranger is a big no-no.

Racing thoughts My thoughts never stopped.  Even during sleep I could ‘hear’ my thoughts.  I never knew that wasn’t normal (whatever ‘normal’ is,  is up for debate of course, but alla),  since continuing thoughts while sleeping were completely normal to me!  I was a light sleeper in any case.  Occasionally I would sleep as ‘normal’ people do and wake up totally knackered and broken.  To me, thàt was not normal!  Hence my love-hate relationship with sleeping aids.  Like ’em because they make me really sleep at night,  hate ’em because they can make me feel sleepy during the day.

On to the Manic
Everything that hypomanic is,  but more in the extreme.  Especially:  irritability,  needing very little sleep (about 3 hrs), risky behavior (i.e.  improbable business plans),  over indulgence (spending sprees,  promiscuity), expanded self-esteem.  Mania can also include hallucinations and delusions.

I am sorry,  but I don’t feel qualified to say more than this,  since I don’t speak from experience.  However,  I do suspect that my hypomanic has manic tendencies.

My one (and hopefully last) manic episode
Actually,  I have had one manic episode.  It was about 4 months after my diagnosis.  I became delusional.  Totally paranoid that people were after me.  Not trusting anyone.  And consequently not talking to anyone.  I slept in the church for several days and lived literally out of my car.  There was a beautiful “Presence Room” for people to pray and sit quietly.  Since I had my own sleeping gear,  I sneaked into church around midnight,  slept on the floor and got up early enough to get out.

Unfortunate for me,  my counselor was on holiday.  After a couple of days I called a dear friend who was in Ukraine at the time.  She finally, after several days, convinced me to go to my p-doc (BD talk for psychiatrist – sweet and short).  When he saw me,  he put me immediately on antipsychotics.  That intervention saved me from a total break down and possible hospitalization.  A ghastly experience!!

Other posts:

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Medical treatment

Peeps that are important

Why mood charting?

Mood charting revisited

How to help people with a mental illness

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