Everybody has good and bad days.
Perhaps you woke up today wondering which monkey was going to be on your back. Would it be a rabid, frenetic monkey pulling you from idea to idea, task to task? Or would the monkey be one of self-destruction, determined to drag you down into the depths of a dark, lonely forest. Part of you may half-hope it’s that frantic monkey, because at least he seems to lead toward life and adventure. At the same time, that monkey is hard to trust. Is it true joy and inspiration? Or is it mania? Will this hope last or will I wake up tomorrow to realize that the excitable monkey was self-destructive too?
Some people feel their moods swing wildly between extremes: from immobilizing depression to energetic elation. Ups and downs are a normal part of life. However, when those swings become dramatic they may indicate that something is wrong.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar Disorder is a condition defined by the experience of these extremes. It’s not simple moodiness, hyperactivity, PMS, or ADHD. It’s characterized by the presence of separate periods of depression and mania. People with Bipolar Disorder cycle between manic and depressive episodes.
What do depressive and manic episodes look like?
A depressive episode involves a depressed mood (sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness), difficulty in everyday life (eating, sleeping, concentrating, accomplishing tasks), guilt, and sometimes even thoughts of suicide.
Mania, or a manic episode, looks very much like the opposite. During a manic episode, a person will likely experience extremely high self-esteem, lots of ideas, creativity, and productivity. They will also experience some type of physical symptoms such as little need for sleep, a lot of energy (pacing, talking really fast), and difficulty concentrating. Another aspect of mania includes engaging in risky behavior (gambling, excessive sex, driving really fast).
If you are living with Bipolar Disorder, you may feel crushed by the depressive episodes: feeling completely worthless, sad, and unproductive. On the other hand, you may find yourself extremely productive, creative, and fun during a manic episode.
Many people struggle with the decision of treating Bipolar Disorder out of fear that treatment will completely dampen the true creativity that comes during times of mania. But you don’t have to suffer for the sake of your creativity; it is possible to treat your Bipolar Disorder and not lose yourself.
How can Bay Area Mental Health help?
Engaging with caregivers you trust is important for all conditions. A mental health therapist is a crucial part of treatment for Bipolar Disorder.
We can help you learn to identify your values, strengths, and goals so you can direct your energy toward flourishing. We can also help you learn skills to cope with the overwhelming sadness that seems to loom in the corner, threatening to squash you.
Managing your own health when dealing with Bipolar Disorder takes skill and support. You are not crazy. You are not bound by the confines of depression or mania. You are more than a diagnosis.
You can live a life of harmony, beauty, balance, and fun; and we would love to help.