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Should I stop talking about bipolar disorder? "We always talk about your illness", my husband said. I don't know if he's being vindictive, or honest. I can't help but talk about living with bipolar disorder. I don't care how successful, beautiful, bright, or loving I am. The reminder that I have bipolar disorder is always with me. Always. It's the anxiety I feel in the morning, the depression I feel during the day, the anger and restlessness I feel in the evening.
People with bipolar disorder are often focused, even consumed, with how to get well and stay well (and rightfully so). With all of the time we spend taking care of ourselves, it is easy to forget our significant others deal with a significant amount of stress due to our chronic illness. Our romantic partners are fully exposed to our symptoms, which can include everything from irritability and anxiety to suicidal behavior and hospitalization.
I am interpreting and predicting others’ thoughts and emotions, almost unconsciously, every day. I do not know exactly when it started, but it is regular, constant. I focus on my husband, friends, colleagues, boss—I think I know what they are thinking, and it is usually negative. For a while, I thought some more: Do I have some kind of psychic power? Am I just super-emotionally-sensitive? Overly intelligent? Does it actually stem from anxiety? It causes me internal stress all the time. According to brand new research from the Yale Psychology Department, there may be a new-found reason why people with bipolar experience stress from others' emotional expressions and reactions.
BPHope.com puts it very nicely: “Anger, rage, and irritability has long been overshadowed by mania and sadness in discussions of bipolar disorder.” Indeed, it is one of the most misunderstood components of bipolar illness. Many people living with bipolar disorder deal with anger and irritability, and they are often very embarrassed by it. Being out of control is an uncomfortable place to be, and it can have lasting repercussions. How many of us with bipolar disorder have said something to a loved one out of anger that we regret? How many of us wish we could control our anger and irritability better?
I used to come home after high school and watch an adoption show. Parents-to-be tell their story of how they tried for years to get pregnant to no avail, and now, finally, they are adopting a child. This is the story I always hear: A couple cannot have children physically, so they adopt. Is adoption an option for women with bipolar disorder?
“What’s the difference between bipolar disorder and depression?” People ask me this a lot. In short, the difference is, bipolar disorder also includes mania. The next question is, “What is mania?” This is harder to explain. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “mental illness marked by periods of great excitement, euphoria, delusions, and over-activity.” This is an acceptable surface-level definition. However, it still cannot encapsulate the feeling and experience of this phenomenon.
Everything in life is cyclic in nature. Especially my relationship with my mom. It’s taken quite a few years to realize this, but eventually, I do or say something to upset my mother, and when I do, I feel her wrath. I always fear being torn apart and/or ignored for several weeks. A chess game.
On my website Kat Galaxy Blog,I publish a monthly poll about topics and issues surrounding bipolar disorder and mental health. The June Poll of the Month asked readers, “Would you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?” This is no Gallup Poll, but the readers that responded consider themselves primarily introverted—about 82% of respondents (so far). I created this poll because I consider myself an introvert. I was curious to see how many around me with bipolar also saw themselves this way. What Is Introversion? It’s a deeper distinction than shy vs. outgoing. The term’s roots are in Jungian psychology, which views introverts as more naturally oriented on their inner world, as opposed to an extrovert, who is more focused on the outside world.
It is National Suicide Prevention Week in America, and open dialogue about suicide is more important than ever before. Suicide is a major public health problem, but it is also very preventable. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 34,598 Americans died by suicide in 2007. You can help someone in your life get help.
Five or six years ago, when I was newly diagnosed, I had nothing positive to say about bipolar disorder. It takes a while to see the good in having a chronic illness. Recently, I've reflected on how bipolar has molded me into the person I am today—in a good way.