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Rapid-cycling Bipolar Disorder

arrowsWhen I was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, I was termed “rapid-cycling.” Now, you must remember, at that time I really had no idea about the illness – depression=YES, bipolar disorder=NO CLUE. In rapid-cycling bipolar disorder the individual experiences 4 or more episodes of mania or depression in a year. Trust me, I meet the criteria. Delving further into definitions of rapid-cycling, I found that I am an ultra-rapid-cycler. This means my mood changes can occur very quickly, in a matter of hours sometimes. It leads to a very interesting yet sometimes frustrating life.

For a few days this past week I was very “up.” I was talking fast and to anyone who would listen. I was excited about all the new changes coming up. I went shopping. I was in an, if not hypomanic state, I was very elevated.

Then came yesterday. I felt like shit. I was depressed and sad. To compound things, I was dealing with terrible tummy issues (probably brought on by stress). I’ll be honest, there were some dark thoughts sneaking around in that beautifully bipolar brain of mine, but I snuffed them out.

It’s strange after all these years, you would think I would know that what goes up, must come down. I should have known I was feeling too good, but when you are 6 weeks or so out of a break-up, it feels pretty damn good to feel happy. I was never manic, I didn’t get up quite that high. So yesterday and today have been tough. I have no energy. My stomach is still a mess. I am overwhelmed. I have moments of just pure sadness. Sigh. So goes the life of someone with a serious mood disorder.

But I have an exciting weekend ahead of me as I visit my new city and pick out my new home with my roommate. I think that will help. Being away from my ex’s house (where he has so graciously allowed me to live while I am getting on my feet) and away from all these memories will be good. And my new roommate is a character so that should be entertaining, too.

And a word for all you fellow rapid-cyclers – try to remember that every episode will end. You won’t always be depressed, just as you won’t always be manic. There will be a lot of “normal” in there to enjoy.


Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at

Rapid-cycling Bipolar Disorder

Elaina J. Martin

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APA Reference
Martin, E. (2015). Rapid-cycling Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 May 2015
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