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A Story Of Indecisive Episodes: Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar
December 11, 2021 Dr. Sheetal No Comments

A Story Of Indecisive Episodes: Understanding Bipolar Disorder

I used to feel like there was a revolving door in my emotional guesthouse. A
joyless, listless version of me wandered in like a vagrant, stayed a while and
left. There was enough time to tidy up my mess and have some peace before a
charming, risk-taking bad boy version burst through the door. These bipolar
guests took control, ran the show, and they all had bad manners. Without
psychiatric and therapeutic support to manage my extreme highs and lows,
every depressive episode cycled to a hypomanic episode. Sometimes there
were periods of a balanced mood post-depression, but hypomania always
arrived next.

 

Bipolar

 

Now that I have become educated about bipolar disorder cycles, all credits to
my psychologist/therapist, I recognize some important distinctions between
bipolar depression and unipolar depression, also known as major depressive
disorder. Bipolar disorder is easily confused with depression because it often
includes depressive episodes. However, there are some key differences:

Bipolar disorder tends to recur on a somewhat regular basis. In a typical cycle,
a depressive episode will sometimes end abruptly, followed by hypomania,
then followed by another depressive episode. They may be weeks to months
apart, but the cycle continues. Does it sound exhausting? It is.

• With depression there is no “up” period. Unipolar depression may feel like a
pervasive sense of hopelessness, worthlessness, loss of enjoyment and a
decreased ability to manage day-to-day tasks. Depression may slowly creep in,
hang around for several days or weeks and have a glacial quality.

• Bipolar disorder always includes symptoms of mania or hypomania. The
shorter-lived cycling between hypomanic or manic episodes and repetitive
depressive episodes may be an indication of a bipolar spectrum disorder, not a
unipolar depression disorder.

• While clinical depression cannot evolve or “turn into” bipolar disorder, a
person previously diagnosed with depression may actually have a type of
bipolar disorder. If you’re unsure whether your experience is one of unipolar
depression or bipolar disorder, please consult a therapist for a full
psychological evaluation. Don’t self-diagnose.

Before I received an accurate diagnosis, it seemed I had a string of depressive
episodes. It’s normal not being Okay. That is why professional psychologists
and therapists exist. It’s possible that some hypomanic cycles were milder and
went unnoticed. The early experience of hypomania didn’t usually affect me
much, if at all. I might feel cheerful, well-rested after just 4 hours of sleep,
focused and on top of the world. After a depressive cycle, this wouldn’t seem
like a problem. Hypomania felt kind of awesome at times…nothing like how
manic episodes are depicted in movies. In the past, hypomanic episodes would
sneak by because I didn’t know what the early signs were. I thought, Hmm…I
have been feeling absolutely awful for the past four days. Today I feel
better…much better just overnight. This quick turnaround isn’t usually
associated with unipolar depression. It felt wonderful until it became too
much to handle.

It’s not always this way; medication isn’t a magic wand. I still have occasional
episodes, however, they’re less intense and don’t last as long. The tools I’ve
learned have helped me trust my moods as authentic and less worrisome. My
emotional life has improved from drastic and exhausting travel between the
north and south poles to living in a balanced, temperate emotional climate
near the equator. Whether your diagnosis is unipolar depression or bipolar
disorder, finding the best tools will make a big difference in living a healthy,
emotionally balanced life. That’s something both of these disorders have in
common.

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