What it’s like to live with Bipolar Disorder

Hey folks,

I’ve been asked the question – What is it like to live with Bipolar? – so I thought I’d blog it.

In all honesty and to put it simply, it can be both a blessing and a curse.

It’s like a roller-coaster of emotions, and often they get really mixed up and you’re not sure how you really feel sometimes. Some days are great, others not so much. It’s a fine line between them, and you never know what the next day will bring.

Whilst the medication keeps mine mostly under control, it’s not a 100% guarantee that’s for sure. I’ve been reasonably stable now for approximately 6 months or so, possibly longer, I’ve lost track! But there are the occasional day where I just want to hide away still. The depressive side of my Bipolar has always been where my struggles lie most. Whereas some people struggle with the mania side more. It’s different for everyone.

I often have to push through the low moods, in order to get through the day. I refuse to let it control me any more, and some days I really have to fight it to stop myself dropping back down into depression. Life can be pretty stressful, and that’s definitely one of my triggers. If things get particularly rough, I do tend to isolate myself and try to back away from the stress and drama. I just don’t deal with it very well at all. I know everyone has stress in their life, but for me, it’s something I really try to avoid as much as possible. Easier said than done though of course!

Another of my triggers, is my body confidence. A good day is where I feel good about how I look, and confident in my own skin. But these days are rather rare. I’ve always had low self-esteem, and having Bipolar does tend to exasperate matters. Because I have the tendency to be very self critical, I do find it hard to like myself, let alone love myself. I see my body changing with all the exercise that I do, but I’m still not where I want to be, so the confidence is somewhat lacking. People tell me I look great and all that, but I just can’t believe them. I’m not sure why, but I just don’t see what they see. I have a condition called Body Dysmorphic Disorder; which is basically where you experience concerns about your appearance that cause significant anxiety. It can even disrupt day to day life. Having BDD means that I’m always negative about my appearance and constantly criticising myself. It’s tough, that’s for sure. I’m a lot better than I used to be though.

As far as mania is concerned, it’s something I rarely experience; which to be honest is a good thing in a way, as it can be very dangerous. I’ve only had a handful of manic episodes, and I don’t recall the events of what went on during them. Other than not being able to sleep! There’s been nights where I’ve ended up just getting up and drawing or some other such activity because I just can’t switch off. My mind is almost buzzing with energy, but often my body can’t keep up. Physically I’m tired, but mentally I’m alert. It’s a really frustrating experience for me. My thoughts race at a million miles an hour (or so it feels), and I experience euphoric feelings like I could take on the world and win. That’s where the danger part comes in. When it goes on for too long, it can result in putting yourself in danger because you feel invincible. Luckily I’ve not come that close to anything like that, as I tend to suffer from Hypomania, which is a less severe form of mania. I guess I should count myself lucky on that front!

As I said though, 90% of the time, I battle with depression. On the outside I look like I’ve got it all together and doing well, but on the inside I’m fighting my demons silently. I really have to push myself sometimes to get things done, even my love of the gym or Rock Choir can sometimes not be enough, and I really struggle to get myself there. 9 times out of 10 though I win and I go, and am glad I did afterwards. But there’s that 1 in 10 time that I don’t go, and feel guilty for not doing so.

To summarise all of the above – living with Bipolar Disorder is hard work. I’m just thankful for the continued support from my friends and family. I wouldn’t say I’m living, more functioning day to day to be honest. Sounds pretty dramatic, but it’s true. I’m constantly living in a state of unknown, not knowing what mood I’m going to wake up in the next day. I could have a really great day one day, then wake up feeling like shit the next and the world comes crashing down around me. It’s definitely not a barrel of laughs sometimes. But I survive, and I’ve come a long, long way since the very beginning.

The turning point for me was my diagnosis. Once I’d gotten my head around it, and learnt more about the disorder, I began to get to grips with it more and each day I’m learning to live with it. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% well, but I’m cruising at around the 90% mark right now, and that’s enough for me!

Sorry if I’ve repeated myself or rambled in places, I’m really tired tonight so my concentration is suffering. But I hope it’s given you a little insight of what it’s like to be me! Any other questions, feel free to ask and I’ll blog the answers 🙂

Thanks for reading, again! Take care, stay strong and until next time….

x Sara Phoenix x

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