Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize the signs of bipolar disorder. For me, I went undiagnosed for many years. I never thought anything I was doing or acted was anything less than normal.As it turns out I have had bipolar disorder since age 15. That’s when my symptoms of mania and depression first started.
At 15 years of age, I was so severely depressed I attempted suicide. Luckily I didn’t succeed. Though it was a really rough year for me. By age 16 I had my first manic episode. I was up and down so much I tired myself out.
I would by adulthood be in and out of the doctors office for my depression. Though no one (doctor, friends or family) would pick-up on my having bipolar disorder. I had good years, I would have bad years but I just seemed to fall through the cracks.
Not to say I didn’t have good friends or family. I just suppose it’s difficult to recognize or realize someone is off.
When I was feeling good I was the life of the party! Always going out with friends to clubs, dancing on tables and drinking heavily. Luckily, I NEVER got into legal trouble. I was just out to party and have fun. Maybe a bit to much partying.
In hind sight I’ve had my crazy ups and downs.
My severe depression was always the hardest. Not being able to function, leaving work early due to the inability to handle the anxiety, gaining weight due to my lack of motivation, etc.
Then there’s my paranoia. I have battled paranoia for as long as I can remember. Sometimes so debilitating that I wouldn’t leave my house. Scared people were going to gun me down just driving on the highway. No none of this was real, I know but when your overly paranoid everything seems a threat.
I also suffer with social anxiety. This is more common when I’m depressed. I don’t do good in large groups (opposite when manic) nor one-on-one encounters with people.
Though one of the worst symptoms of bipolar disorder I suffer from is psychosis. I use to believe I was haunted (no, for real). I would see what I call, “the dark man.” He is about 6-feet tall and is a dark silhouette, he appears usually when I’m manic. I see him stand by my bedside, and he sometimes walks toward my direction. He has haunted me for years. It’s quite scary to me and when I see him it totally rattles my cage!
I also hear music playing that no one else hears. Unfortunately, not much helps rid my psychosis except Lithium. Though I had a terrible experience with it, I won’t go on it again.
Until 2011 when I was diagnosed with type 1 bipolar disorder with rapid cycling and psychosis, I thought I was truly haunted. Through therapy and counseling with my psychiatrist I learned I had psychosis.
At first I was sort of relieved to know I wasn’t haunted but also scared to know my mind has been playing tricks on me for so many years.
Bipolar disorder has many symptoms and there not all present at a single time. I suppose that’s why so many of us go undiagnosed for years. For me it took my husband to piece together years of instability, and a major manic episode to throw up red flags.
In 2011 prior to being diagnosed I was going through a major manic episode lasting a months. It all began with me taking on a major project, I later couldn’t commit to finishing. I also began hanging out with friends more and more. I wouldn’t be home longer than showering and getting ready for the day, then taking off. I started spending money a bit to freely.
Things would start taking a turn when I decided I no longer wanted to be married to my husband and separated from him. I started dating, getting tattoos, dressed provocatively, started going out to bars drinking heavily, and started hanging out with the wrong crowd, to name a few things.
I was going off of the ultimate edge and living in the fast lane. Hell, I even overspent going to a Black Friday sale just for the heck of it!
Like I said, this lasted a for months but just as quick as it began it came crashing down. I woke-up one morning totally in a fog, I didn’t remember much of the day before or for that matter weeks prior. I tried to piece things together but really had troubles.
During my separation with my husband, he moved out of our house. I called him and asked him to come home. I explained my concern over my memory laps and asked him to help me clear a few things up.
We talked for what seemed like days. He told me of all I had done (to his knowledge), but was concerned over the gaps in my memory. I was grateful he wasn’t mad at me and wanted to help. For the record I did remember separating from him, just not why.
My husband later left to do some research of his own to try and figure out what was going on. A day or so later he came back to me with some unsettling news. He told me that all his research turned to me possibly having bipolar disorder. He told me that not just my recent craziness but with years of ups and downs, he pieced the puzzle together.
All signs pointed to bipolar disorder. I didn’t know what that was, exactly. Though he read me a description of signs and symptoms that matched my recent adventures to a tee.
I really didn’t know what to think. Long story short I got help. It took sometime to get what was my worst manic episode under control, and to pick-up the pieces of my life and marriage. I’m happy to report my marriage is still going strong and I’ve found manageability with my bipolar disorder.
I know we each go through different experiences with diagnosing bipolar disorder but the general signs of:
Manic episode – include
- Dressing provocatively
- Hyper sexuality
- Over spending
- Taking on projects we won’t finish
- Drinking excessively
- Taking drugs/ Start smoking cigarettes
- Insomnia / Lack of need for sleep
- Exercise extensively
Depression – Include
- Inability to work
- Inability to function in a normal fashion
- Become a recluse/ Antisocial
- Overly sleep/ Excessive need to sleep all day
- Hardly eating/ Overly eating
- Lack of ability to find motivation
There are a few other symptoms like: rapid cycling, mixed states, hypomania, and psychosis that fall under the bipolar disorder umbrella.
There are a few different diagnosis for bipolar disorder. Type 1 Bipolar Disorder, Type 2 Bipolar Disorder, and Type 3 Bipolar Disorder more commonly called Cyclothymia.
If you think you may have bipolar disorder, contact your primary care physician or a psychiatrist. That is a good place to start!