I have bipolar II disorder. I bring this up because I’m struggling with the symptoms today and in trying to understand and deal with the disorder, I hope that talking about it will help — at least hopefully help others that deal with this same problem.
Bipolar 2 is different from regular bipolar disease (aka manic-depression) in that there are not full-blown ‘manias’ — in other words, I don’t hallucinate or completely lose control, I just get rather hyper and talk very quickly and overcommit myself.
What does this sort of thing mean? Well, if your first instinct is to step back and think I’m a loony, then you should stop learning your medical diagnoses from TV shows.
However, this thing does cause problems. Months of depressions so deep that I can barely function, let alone tackle and move forward with my life. Weeks of excited, frenetic energy where I say and do things that embarrass myself and others. I overreact to emotional situations and have trouble concentrating on tasks. Recently I started medication for the disorder and that brings its own baggage. My head feels stuffed with cotton, making it hard to think as clearly or as quickly as I used to. And as I move forward day by day in the normal patterns free of the extreme highs and lows, I find it very difficult to know how to move forward without the jet pack of hypomania to drive me. Before, everything was either awful or awesome. Now everything just sort of..is. How do normal people live like this?
But my family says I am better, more even-keeled, easier to get along with. I know personally that tasks are generally not as overwhelming as they used to be, and honestly, the lack of the constant voices of self-derision telling me how I couldn’t do anything and that I was a failure, that’s nice. I wonder how I grew up with this (since I’ve had it since I was very young), and how I would be different if I didn’t have it.
And I think, if I had never had to learn to deal with the depressions, if I had never had the grand ideas of the hypomanias, my life would not only have been dull, but I would not have learned oh so many great and wonderful things that not only help me through the real highs and lows of life (because those sorts of things just happen, no matter how you are wired), but help me to help others who haven’t had the opportunities of the same perspectives. And I’m actually grateful. Because God knows what he’s doing — and knowing that brings me peace.