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I was in my forties before I was diagnosed bipolar. I didn't really know what that term meant, and I didn't care as long as the craziness stopped.
My face turned bright red, remembering the way I drank when I was in a manic state, and the things I did that didn't come back to me for a day or so, mostly because of the amount of alcohol I was drinking to ease the bipolar symptoms. I didn't know at the time that the feelings and moods I was having were an indication of something a lot more serious than mood swings.
Manic moments were wonderful. I would feel so much energy and was on top of the world. Those moments never lasted as long as the ones that brought me down so hard into depression that my brain hurt.
There are two stories here, and both need to be heard to understand what someone suffering from this affliction goes through.
Mania is a term used to describe a state of mind where a person is exuberant. They take risks and get into dangerous situations at times, or they can act seductively toward strangers, or make big promises they can't keep.
When I would get into a manic state, I would be in a very good mood, and suddenly had so much energy that I would clean the entire house in a few hours. I couldn't sit still, talked constantly, and came up with grandiose ideas that I promised I could fulfill, but of course, I couldn't.
I was usually unemployed, or underemployed at that time in my life, and I distinctly remember one time when I was going into a manic state. I suddenly felt that familiar energy beginning, and because I wasn't working I decided it was time to find work. I got the paper and called several places, and then made appointments by using my old friend mania to help me be cheerful, articulate, and win the trust of the person I spoke to about work. I also called employment services, even applying for jobs that sounded out of my capability, but I could do it. I was indestructible and there wasn't a job around I couldn't do better than the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the next morning I woke up with my old enemy, bipolar depression. I didn't even have enough energy or desire to call and cancel the appoints I had made for interviews, but simply never showed up.
Depression is a feeling of not existing, emptiness, and sometimes physical as well as psychological pain. People lose interest in everything and either want to sleep or eat, and sometimes neither one sounds good, but sleep deprivation is the last thing a depressed person needs.
Bipolar Depression is regular depression magnified in intensity. It can cause people to refuse to get out of bed, bathe, or want to be around anybody for long periods of time, and it seems as though the bipolar depression lasts longer than the mania, or at least it worked that way for me.
I was living on my own, separated from my husband, and had been in a state of flux, some days up and some down, but one day the up didn't leave, and I called my ex despite the voice of better judgment in my head telling me not to, and said I wanted to come home. A few days later he was there and we were packing up and ready to go, and even on the trip I was happy inside and free. We pulled over on a dirt road to let the dogs have a break, and I remember dancing in the road. Unfortunately, once again, I woke up to my old friend bipolar depression, and then the sadness set in.
I missed my apartment and the freedom it had allowed me to do the things I loved and live a freer life than I could live in the marriage. I missed walking my dog in the park, watching her run and spin in the water puddles, and I missed the daily visits with my sister when she was off work. Slowly, I dipped even deeper into the bipolar depression until I could barely function, and my head hurt from the burdens of life and my world.
For anybody suffering from this disorder, I would strongly recommend getting on a good diet, because what you eat can cause mania to set in or depression, if it's a different set of foods. Finding a good psychiatrist and getting not only medication, but counseling, is also the best path to take.
Visiting a psychiatrist does not mean you are crazy, it means you are smart enough to get help.