I've had several people email me asking me more about my bipolar disorder. How did I know I had it, how did I find out that's what it was vs. postpartum depression, etc. I want to try and answer all those questions because this issue is so near and dear to me. I think it's so important to acknowledge mental health issues and deal with them head on. If you are suffering with mental health issues, don't just ignore them. GET HELP. I can't stress this enough. I was bound by time constraints and availability of my psychiatrist, but if I could have gotten help sooner, I definitely would have. There is no reason to suffer. Mental health problems are real and they affect a lot of people. So here are some of the common questions that I've been asked.
1. How did I know it was something more than regular depression?
This question is tough, because honestly I didn't. During the start of it I felt really bad off. I felt suicidal. I actually saw another doctor before my psych who thought it was just a really, really bad case of postpartum depression. I had just had my son a few months before. She put me on an antidepressant which did help the depression side of it, but something was still off. I had a lot of terrible mood swings and a lot of anger. I felt really out of control. This out of control feeling was really what set off me wondering if there was something more at play than just regular depression or even postpartum depression.
2. What kind of medicines do you take everyday?
I take a regular antidepressant. I also take a type of medicine called a mood stabilizer. It helps curb my mood swings, but doesn't make me feel like an emotionless zombie or anything. I'm still in the process of getting the dosage correct with my mood stabilizer. This has been ongoing for almost 3 months, another reason why it's so important to get help as soon as possible. The medicines take a long time to get into full effect. Bipolar disorder can also cause insomnia. Insomnia is something I've struggled with since I was a teenager. So I also take a sleeping medication. I am on a lot of medications, but without them I am a train wreck. Medicines can be scary to some people, but if you're struggling, I can tell you your life will improve tenfold by getting on them. Don't be afraid.
3. What does bipolar feel like?
Bipolar varies hugely from person to person. When I was describing everything to the psychiatrist and she came back with Bipolar disorder I was confused at first. I thought that mania always meant you were super happy and crazy. Not always. My mania looks angry and very moody. I was hyperactive. I would do things like clean every inch of my house. The depression part looks the same for most people and it's a classical depression type of feeling. Huge feelings of sadness, decreased enjoyment in life. Inability to carry on daily life successfully. It's pretty rough when you are in the depressive side of things.
4. Why did you decide to get help?
This one is easy. I could no longer carry on in my daily life without getting help. I was extremely moody and I was making myself and everyone around me miserable. Everyone would say things like, "Something is wrong.", or, "You're not yourself." My close family was scared for me. These are huge red flags that you need help and you need it fast!
So, in short, get help if you're feeling overly depressed or out of control. There is no reason to feel terrible everyday. Feel free to ask me more questions. I am an avid supporter of mental health causes and love to help. I don't feel like it's anything to be ashamed of at all.
I've included some links to some websites about bipolar disorder:
Mayo Clinic pages about Bipolar.
WebMD pages about types and symptoms of Bipolar.
Bipolar Screening Quiz.
Bipolar Lives Support for Bipolar.