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What does bipolar look like?

Bipolar is an extremely difficult metal illness to have and to treat.  Each person diagnosed with bipolar will experience slightly different types of symptoms. It has a lot to do with a person’s body and brain chemistry, genetics, childhood environment as well as the medicines that he or she takes or doesn’t take. I am giving you a sideline view straight from a bipolar, me.

bipolar symptoms
bipolar symptoms

Racing Thoughts

I feel as if this symptom is as common to me as breathing every day. I wake up in the morning and it is off to the races. My thoughts race from one thought to the next, to the next, to the next, etc. on a never-ending stream of thoughts that barely have a hair’s width of an idea in common.  For example:

Phone on charge. Grocery list.  Take the dogs for a walk. Where’s my cell phone?  Toilet paper. Make tea. Change bed sheets. Good book.  Weather.  Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…. Cereal.  Tomorrow.

bipolar symptoms
bipolar symptoms

It keeps my head very noisy. Having these racing thoughts make it difficult to focus. Reading a book has become a HUGE chore for me. I have to re-read sentences and whole paragraphs because I have so many thoughts passing through while I am trying to read.  It is like a battle to see which voice will win.

Distracted Thoughts

I do not know which bipolar symptom is worse, rapid or distracting thoughts.  They are both equally aggravating.  Bipolar distracted thinking visits me every day. I can be involved doing one task, and then just a look, a word, a song, a memory, will cause a distraction so paramount that I may not remember what I was doing.  I rarely complete one task before I go to the next, or the next, or the next.

Extreme Thoughts

Bipolars have the tendency to jump to conclusions in a hot second. The boss comes in mad after lunch, we instantly think our job is going to get terminated. We do not hear from our friend in one day, so we quickly assume she is mad at us. Our spouse calls and does not leave a message.  Of course we automatically assume that means they are mad. These examples are called catastrophizing. Our norm is to jump to the extremes. The truth is, nine out of ten times, these extremities never pan out. We get all worked up over nothing.


Having extreme tendencies, anxiety happens to be the end result.  I have battled with crippling anxiety for majority of my life. I was recently diagnosed with extreme anxiety.  This means my anxiety is so bad that I have psychotic phases.

bipolar symptoms
bipolar symptoms

I can get anxious about anything. The weather, work, crowds or the news. I have a terrible problem with social anxiety. It affects me at work, family gatherings, church and shopping.

Managing these Bipolar Symptoms

I feel that a good way to manage different bipolar symptoms is to keep a mood diary. The diary could be a blank notebook, the notepad on your cell phone, or even a calendar. Whenever I have a shift in my mood or self-talk, I write it in my calendar. I then share my extreme thoughts, murky moods or paralyzing anxiety with my psychiatrist as well as my psychologist.  At that time, I might discuss tweaking my medications with my providers.

Here are ways I cope with the bipolar symptoms.

  1. Racing Thoughts — I try to relax and not focus on the racing thoughts. I also pray to get my mind off the thoughts zinging through my mind. Also, I will attempt to affix my mind on something: pizza, the beach, roses, frogs or the mountains.  Usually this means my mood is in an uptick and I am experiencing hypomania or mania. I do not want to do anything to make manic episodes worse. Therefore, I do relaxing activities that I enjoy.
  2. Bipolar Thoughts — When I notice that I am struggling with my bipolar thoughts, I stop, pray, take a break and look at what I should do next. At that time, I usually order the tasks by priority whiling working hard to tell myself that I must complete a task before moving on.
  3. Anxiety — Pray. Period. That is the only thing that I have used which truly helps me with bipolar anxiety.


In the comments, describe other bipolar symptoms you are familiar with and the coping skills to mitigate the symptom.





What does bipolar look like?

Amy Pierce Romine

I am a published content and freelance writer, award-winning blogger, public speaker, copy editor and social media consultant. From adolescence through the decade of my 20’s, I went without knowing anything was wrong with me. A mental illness was the farthest possibility from my mind (LOL! No pun intended). After my first diagnosis of just “bipolar”, I waited another seven years to discover my most current diagnosis. I have bipolar 1 with psychotic features, mixed episodes and ultra-rapid cycling. An extension of my diagnosis includes the bipolar type of AD/HD, OCD, GAD and social anxiety. At the end of the day, it all comes down to my faith in God and of course my friends and family who encourage and support me every step of the way. You can find me at my other blog, Life Conquering Blog for Mental Health.

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APA Reference
Pierce Romine, A. (2018). What does bipolar look like?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Apr 2018
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