The issue related to bipolar disorder is the lack of understanding about the disease. It is just an over production and/or under production of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Also it can be a problem with the absorption of such chemicals by other cells of the brain. I guess, it can be like people with diabetes and the problems with insulin; it can be an under production, over production or problems related with the absorption of such. Individuals suffering from this confusing disorder tend to believe that they are going crazy. The reaction to such belief can present an extensive array of emotions. Family members, friends and associates in relation with the person suffering from this disorder are not able to understand the chemical unbalance and usually criticize the individual harshly out of frustration, anger and resentment. Let me attempt to present a simple illustration about the complexity of this disorder and how it affects the patient and his or her family as an effort to help members of our society understand the disorder but most importantly to help with the removal some of the stigma associated with this confusing mental condition.
There are four types of Bipolar Disorders; Bipolar 1 Disorder, Bipolar 2 Disorder, Cyclothymia and Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. These categories break of into more specific disorders depending on the particular nature of the symptoms presented by the individual. I don’t think it is necessary to go in such depth in this small note. This would create more confusion than education to the reader.
The main issue I would like to address are the symptoms associated with each of the four variations noted above. The individual afflicted by Bipolar 1 Disorder suffer mainly from manic episodes follow rapidly by an abrupt and deeply depression. During the manic phase the individual feels an enormous sense of energy or power. They feel able to accomplish anything and usually engages in dangerous and risky behaviors that are not easy to understand by family and friends. This type of energy is often described, as “I feel invincible and unstoppable with endless amounts of energy.” This type of euphoria is follow by a profound sense of hopelessness and worthlessness that drives the suffering patient crazy. People troubled with Bipolar 1 Disorder experience most manic episodes and less depressive episodes. The suffering individual misses the manic episodes and seeks them at any cost.
Bipolar 2 Disorder is similar to type 1 but in this case the depressive episodes are more frequent than the manic episodes. Depressive symptoms are experienced most of the time in the life of the individual.
Cyclothymia disorder is similar to type 1 or 2 but the cycles are rapid and do not follow any pattern. The person might weak up with a manic episode and by the afternoon he or she may be experiencing a great sense of sadness that might put the individual’s life at risk. This lack of pattern creates a sense of confusion and fear about the person’s life. The individual feels like “going crazy” and are afraid to share his or her feelings about the issue because they know that others are not able to understand what they are going through. Finally, Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is a less frequent expression of the symptoms but frequent enough to warrant diagnoses.
These conditions are treated successfully with psychotropic medications but unfortunately often the individual suffering from Bipolar Disorders stop the use of medications when they believe to have his or her disorder under control. Once the patient stop taking the psychotropic medications the individual starts experiencing the symptoms again. It is also often enough that the person suffering from manic episodes avoids taking psychotropic medication because they want to experience the manic symptoms again.
Our society is still unwilling to accept that mental health disorders are similar to any other medical condition caused by a chemical unbalance in the brain. The suffering patient usually fears sharing information with others and creates social isolation from the rest of his and her family and emotional support system. If we (as society) were more tolerant to these types of conditions the suffering individual will be more willing to report symptoms, share experiences and seek appropriate treatment. If you know someone or of somebody suffering any mental health disorder please learn as much as you can of his or her condition before you pass any judgment onto them. Tolerance for diversity is what can save our society. The more we love and support each other the more we can connect with each other. We all seek love, intimacy and support. If not, you may be suffering from an other mental illness; Narcissistic Personality Disorder but that is a topic for another day.