A Better Self · Health

7 Ways Bipolar Disorder Affects Everyday Life

It wasn’t until recently that I realized how little people knew, or understood, about Bipolar Disorder. How it is something we all have heard of, but have a wrong idea about. How it is treated as an imaginary illness. How those who have Bipolar Disorder are often afraid to disclose it to others due to the impression it may give. But the truth is, Bipolar Disorder is a real illness that affects over 3 million individuals yearly in the US alone. Let alone the rest of the world. Many well-known individuals have also been diagnosed, including: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Winston Churchill, Russell Brand, Vincent Van Gogh, Demi Lovato, Amy Winehouse, Vivien Leigh, Carrie Fisher, and so many more. Some of the most brilliant and talented individuals are those suffering with an illness that is not readily understood.

Bipolar Disorder is defined by episodes of mania (“highs”) and depression (“lows”). It causes alterations in mood, activity, energy, and your ability to carry out every day tasks. These episodes can range from weeks to months and the symptoms can impede daily life if not manage appropriately. So, I want to highlight a few symptoms of the manic and depressive episodes that someone may experience and then talk about how this illness can affect someone’s every day life.

Manic Symptoms:

  • Thoughts: racing thoughts, elated, unrealistic beliefs about one’s abilities, feeling invincible, “on top of the world”, delusions or hallucinations in severe cases, difficulty focusing, feeling energetic
  • Behaviors: risky behavior such as excessive spending or reckless sexual behavior, irritable, easily agitated, rapid speech, restlessness, impulsive behavior, difficulty sleeping, “jumpy” or “wired”, taking on more projects than normal

Depressive Symptoms:

  • Thoughts: feelings of inadequacy or “not being good enough”, feeling sad/down/empty/hopeless, worried, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, feeling unable to enjoy things, tired or “slowed down”, thoughts of death or suicide, “impending doom”
  • Behaviors: altered sleeping patterns, slowed speech, withdrawal from social activities, decreased libido, forgetful, altered eating habits, inability to start or complete tasks, difficulty maintaining daily activities

Many times the episodes are easily defined by exhibiting symptoms of mania or depression, however, it is also possible for the mood episode to have mixed symptoms. It is also possible that someone who has Bipolar Disorder is experiencing less dramatic mood swings. Their manic phase (hypomania) may just be defined by being feeling great and showing increased productivity. It is possible that the individual does not even recognize the mood changes, however those around them may. However, even for them, it is important to receive appropriate treatment to manage symptoms so that they do not escalate to severe mania or depression.

Carrie Fisher speaks out against stigma when it comes to mental illness:
Photo Credit: Huffington Post
So, now let’s highlight how this illness’ symptoms can affect daily life. Maybe by doing so, we can better understand ourselves (if you are diagnosed) or those around us (if you know someone who is diagnosed). After all, we all could do with a little better understanding, right?

  1. EatingThe alterations in mood also tend to bring alterations in eating habits. You may go through extended periods of either an increased appetite, or neglecting to eat enough. During these times, make sure to eat appropriately.
  2. Sleep. Manic episodes may cause insomnia and depressive episodes may cause hypersomnia. Keep a regular sleep routine, if possible, to ensure you are getting enough sleep.
  3. Finances. If you are apt to spend too much during manic episodes, find a way to limit yourself. Limit your access to spending or avoid shopping ventures. Make a spending plan to follow.
  4. Work and Activities. There will be days that you feel as though you can conquer all things, and days that you cannot fathom doing more than getting dressed and brushing your teeth. Make sure to make a list of activities that need to be done and are reasonable to achieve, and complete them one at a time.
  5. Alcohol & Drugs. Dabbling with these can affect the alterations in mood and even trigger them. It can also inhibit appropriate effectiveness of psych medications used to manage mood or cause negative effects on them. Don’t go there.
  6. Physical Exercise. We are well aware that physical activity is good for the body, but it is also good for the mind. It releases endorphins and is a great coping skill for managing mental illness. It can keep you motivated during the depressive episodes and manage excess energy during the manic episodes.
  7. Relationships. The mood swings and subsequent symptoms can sometimes cause issues with relationships. Whether it be due to the social withdrawal, lack of opening up to a support system, or otherwise. It is important to surround yourself with those who are supportive and understanding, and confide in them.

“It’s both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply.” – David Jones

It is time that we learn more about Bipolar Disorder. To quit using “bipolar” as an adjective. To show support. To break the stigma.

-Shawna

The Best Bipolar Disorder Apps of the Year

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Copyright Β© 2017 Shawna: Whole, Hearty, Happy – All rights reserved

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15 thoughts on “7 Ways Bipolar Disorder Affects Everyday Life

  1. I really liked the way you divided the symptoms between “Thoughts” and “Behaviors”. I also really liked how you highlighted how they affect daily life. Many people (particularly with mood disorders) have probably read numerous websites talking about bipolar disorder symptoms, but I have really seen any that described the disorder as you did. It was very useful. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I think we get so worried about the factual information and forget how it actually applies to someone’s life. These aren’t just diagnoses. These are real illnesses that affect people just as physical illnesses do. I feel that is often forgotten and I realize that with my patients. It’s as though they were told what they may experience symptomatically, but not how it will alter their daily routines/habits/actions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That means so much! I appreciate it. You can’t have a complete wellness without including mental health. And you shouldn’t have to work on improving it alone. People should be as understanding and open to talk about mental illness as they are physical ailments. There is no difference. They both are impactful to daily living.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s nice that there are many bloggers here that post about mental health issues. Some share their great experience/knowledge, some do a lot of stigma fighting, others share about their experience through journaling in their blog, and some do a little of each. I post about mental health issues frequently, but I also try to write about my other interests. Writing about other things is an important part of my recovery.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It can be very therapeutic to use writing as an outlet. Especially for processing and prevention of rumination. Good for you. And yes, I have found that this is a very friendly place when it comes to dealing with mental health/illness. It’s very readily discussed just as other topics.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this post. I was just discharged from a psychiatric unit with this diagnosis yesterday. I was misdiagnosed with depression and therefore on antidepressants without a mood stabilizer and YIKES I had a major manic episode. Things are under control. But the mental health unit where I was committed was awful… Anyways, I’m on the quest to learn more about my illness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so very welcome! I feel like there are so many misunderstandings and misdiagnoses with mental health, and it can be tricky. I hope you feel some comfort in finally receiving the correct one and that the medication begins to work soon (if not already). And good for you for learning more about it!

      Liked by 1 person

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