I know you are reading. I know you have insight. I know you want to be supportive. I know you love Christi, and would do anything for her. You’ve been lurking, watching, trying to understand where this is coming from, where it leads.
Now we need your feedback. If you love Christi, if you want to to support her, tell her what you see. Tell her the beauty of what she is writing. Tell her she won’t lose that inspiration, that beauty, if she seeks help, but if she doesn’t seek it she’s certain to lose that inspiration in time. Tell her you see what I see.
Tell her you’ll be there for her no matter what. Tell her she needs help.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but several factors seem to be involved in causing and triggering bipolar episodes:
- Biological differences. People with bipolar disorder appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain but may eventually help pinpoint causes.
- Neurotransmitters. An imbalance in naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters seems to play a significant role in bipolar disorder and other mood disorders.
- Hormones. Imbalanced hormones may be involved in causing or triggering bipolar disorder.
- Inherited traits. Bipolar disorder is more common in people who have a blood relative (such as a sibling or parent) with the condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing bipolar disorder.
- Environment. Stress, abuse, significant loss or other traumatic experiences may play a role in bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by up-and-down episodes of mania and depression. During a manic phase, some patients can have a total break from reality.
But hypomania, which is also a symptom of the disorder, is a high-energy state in which a person feels exuberant but hasn’t lost his or her grip on reality.
“Hypomania can be a pretty enjoyable state, really,” Dr. Bearden says. A person’s mood can be elevated, they may have a lot of energy and creativity, and they may experience euphoria. This is the “up” side of bipolar disorder that some people with the condition actually enjoy—while it lasts.
When they are in a manic phase, people with bipolar disorder can have an inflated self-esteem.
“They feel grandiose and don’t consider consequences; everything sounds good to them,” Dr. Malone says.
Two of the most common types of behavior that can result from this are spending sprees and unusual sexual behavior. “I have had a number of patients who have had affairs who never would have done that if they weren’t in a manic episode…during this episode they exhibited behavior that is not consistent with what they would do normally,” he says.
During a manic phase, they may not sleep enough—but still never feel tired.
Even with just a few hours of sleep each night, they may feel great and have lots of energy.
Dr. Bearden says staying on a regular sleep schedule is one of the first things she recommends for bipolar patients.
Manic phase of bipolar disorder
Signs and symptoms of the manic or hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder can include:
- Euphoria [This has been a roller coast of excitement]
- Inflated self-esteem
- Poor judgment
- Rapid or pressured speech [Feeling the need to explain everything so others can understand you, not allowing others to interject]
- Racing thoughts [Jumping between ideas, reading between the lines, connecting any dots]
- Aggressive behavior
- Agitation or irritation [Anger at the suggestion that you need to talk to someone]
- Increased physical activity [Exercise]
- Risky behavior [Facing all your fears, willingness to open our private lives]
- Spending sprees or unwise financial choices
- Increased drive to perform or achieve goals [To write, to paint, to draw, to create]
- Increased sex drive
- Decreased need for sleep [<5 hours most nights]
- Easily distracted [Not remembering something we discussed at lunch, not hearing my responses at times]
- Careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol
- Frequent absences from work or school
- Delusions or a break from reality (psychosis) – Symptoms of psychosis may include false but strongly held beliefs [What is N’s motive? N is Ken. In reality often there aren’t lines to read between]
- Poor performance at work or school
When to see a doctor
If you have any symptoms of depression or mania, see your doctor or mental health provider. Bipolar disorder doesn’t get better on its own. Getting treatment from a mental health provider with experience in bipolar disorder can help you get your symptoms under control.
Many people with bipolar disorder don’t get the treatment they need. Despite the mood extremes, people with bipolar disorder often don’t recognize how much their emotional instability disrupts their lives and the lives of their loved ones. And if you’re like some people with bipolar disorder, you may enjoy the feelings of euphoria and cycles of being more productive. However, this euphoria is always followed by an emotional crash that can leave you depressed, worn out — and perhaps in financial, legal or relationship trouble.