If you know me, or have read some of my older blogs, you probably know that I suffer from bipolar disorder. Specifically rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. Lets get technical for a second. What is rapid cycling bipolar disorder?
Rapid-cycling is a pattern of frequent, distinct episodes in bipolar disorder. In rapid- cycling, a person with the disorder experiences four or more episodes of mania or depression in one year.
Reading the description of what is considered RC Bipolar Disorder makes me wonder how accurate it actually is. If I ONLY had 4 episodes of mania or depression a year, I would be doing pretty well. But let me tell you, I suffer from 4 or more episodes a month, sometimes a week, or even in a day. Sometimes you can feel it coming on, and sometimes it happens out of nowhere. I’m going through some med changes at the moment and can probably contribute my mood decline this week to that. The one thing that has been pretty consistent lately is that when my mood drops, it seems to be a pretty steady decline over the process of 4-5 days. Then I hit a low.. The lows consist of a lot of self-destructive thoughts and I freak out a little bit and think that everything is coming crashing down. These episodes usually follow an episode of mania, or extreme happiness where I feel like everything in my life is just all falling in place. If the bipolar lows aren’t bad enough, the highs are just as bad. It sounds all fine and dandy to be “happy” and “optimistic”, but to be completely honest.. it is exhausting, because you just can’t control it. During those highs, I can literally feel myself being drained of energy, but I just can’t stop. When I’m in a high, people seem to respond to me better. They feel happy that things are going so well for me, but the truth is.. its part of my illness. Its not necessarily a good thing when that is happening, because what is to follow is a great darkness that very few people can truly understand.
I’d like to sit here and tell you that I am genuinely a happy person, but I’m not. My “general” mood rests in a pretty flat state.I’m really easy going, so most times I just don’t care one way or another. I have a lot of trust issues, and I don’t typically keep many people in my life at a time. Its just too hard for my mind to process. Fewer people means fewer problems, fewer arguments, less chance of someone talking behind your back, and most importantly, less of a chance of getting hurt.
Mental Illness is so misunderstood, and it is a major goal of mine to educate as many people as I can and share my story in attempt to help people understand the matter more. What people don’t really understand is that it is a sickness. It is a chronic illness like any other…in the fact that it truly never goes away. People like me are put on meds and seek therapy in order to help alleviate some of the symptoms, but nothing completely can make it go away. Except maybe a lobotomy.. Kidding of course. That would just cause a whole new smorgasbord of challenges. (Lol) But really. Living with a chronic illness isn’t easy, and its even harder for people to acknowledge it exists. Sometimes people just think you’re being over-dramatic or irrational, but its something you can’t control. That is what people just don’t get. Most people never will, unless you suffer as well. Even so, nobody is exactly the same.. and that is why mental illnesses are so hard to diagnose. People can be having the same symptoms but can be suffering from completely different disorders. A lot of the same symptoms characterized by different disorders can be almost identical to others. And some of us are lucky enough to have all of the craziness harbored in one body *Raises Hand*
But think of it this way..In the end, the symptoms of mental illness make a full circle and can be defined as one label, “sick”, with many sub-categories; just like every other illness in the world. Your body is one complete circuit and it doesn’t matter if theres something wrong with your heart or your brain, when theres something not functioning the way it should, you need treatment. If theres anything I’ve learned over the past few years (specifically the past 6 months), theres no shame in admitting that you suffer from a mental illness. Its okay, its not secret that people do. If you’re just honest about what you are feeling and what you are thinking, things do get better. One of my biggest fears I used to have is that if I told people what was happening in my mind that I would get “locked away” without consent.. but I promise you that if you walk into a clinic and share all the crazy in your head, they’re not gonna just lock you away and drug you with Thorazine (Ooooo!) I mean.. there are extreme cases that require immediate hospitalization, but that won’t happen without a proper evaluation first. So fear not, my friends.. And Happy Hump Day! I hope you celebrate accordingly 😉