Today, March 30th is world bipolar day. Social media has created a negative view of what bipolar disorder is and how it affects the people around us. Because of that, I thought that this would be the best day to effectively describe the types of bipolar and what episodes may look like. Keep in mind that this disorder means different symptoms to different people. What happens to one person may not happen to another. It’s important to remember that bipolar disorder is unique to each person diagnosed with it.
Two main factors are needed to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, manic and depressive episodes. They are opposite ends of the spectrum and can lead to abnormal behaviors.
Manic episodes can include:
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Racing thoughts
- Extreme energy
- Elevated confidence and well being
- Beginning random projects suddenly
- Decreased or increased appetite
- Recklessness and risky behavior
Depressive episodes can include:
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Self-harm or suicidal tendencies
- Lack of interest in activities
- Lack of hygiene
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Low self-esteem
There is more than one type of bipolar disorder. It’s debated whether there are three, four, or even five. With my research and prior knowledge, I decided to share three that are common.
Bipolar 1 disorder
Bipolar 1 disorder has more extreme episodes. These episodes have to last seven or more days. Manic episodes can lead to behavior that requires hospitalizations, extreme life changes, and a complete personality change.
Bipolar 2 disorder
Bipolar 2 disorder has manic and depressive episodes, but the behavior can be less extreme. The episodes typically last the same as bipolar 1 and typically have more depressive episodes than manic.
Cyclothymic disorder is when there are episodes, but they are not as extreme as Bipolar 1 or 2. These episodes are depressive and manic but can last shorter or less extreme behavior changes.
Things to avoid saying about bipolar disorder
- The weather has been bipolar lately. No one wants their mental illness to be compared to weather.
- At least your manic now!
- I like you better manic/depressive.
- Are bipolar people dangerous?
- People with bipolar can’t function in society.
- Bipolar people are unstable.
Bipolar disorder is real, difficult, and exhausting. People that are diagnosed with bipolar disorder are no different than any other, they just have different challenges in life.
A year and a half ago I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder. I was shocked and embarrassed. It didn’t make sense; how did I have this terrible mental illness when I had never experienced anything I’ve known about bipolar? Society’s opinion and the stigmatized information spread on social media made me feel worthless. It was a life-changing diagnosis.
Along with all of the negative emotions, I also felt a sense of relief. Years of therapy and medication trial and errors finally made sense. I had my answer.
After a lot of time researching and finding out what having bipolar 2 meant to me I’m no longer ashamed, but thankful. I know who I am. It is a part of who I am but does not define me. I’m celebrating world bipolar day by taking time for self-care and self-love. This day brings attention to the disorder I live with every day and I am thankful that the stigma is slowly going away. It’ll take a long time and a lot of work, but it is crucial to ending that feeling of shame. There is no shame in being bipolar.
Websites with information on bipolar disorder