The Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and How to Deal With Them
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The diagnosis you have been dreading to get: Bipolar Disorder. Supposedly a rare condition but it seems as if well over half of all mentally ill patients are receiving this diagnosis. Is there an epidemic? Or is the field of Psychiatry so overwhelmed they only have time for a quick diagnosis and then slap a label on people? This article will look at the main symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and what they mean as well as how to deal with them?
Bipolar Disorder has been labelled a lifelong disorder in which the sufferer will need to be on medications for life. Is this always the case? There have been countless stories, albeit few and far between, of people who have learned how to deal with their symptoms and gotten off “lifelong” medicines. Of course the story is always the same: they can’t stand the side effects of the medication. Did they really find healing? Or were they never really bipolar in the first place? Is there really any way to know since there is no test for said “chemical imbalances”?
Yes you can learn how to manage Bipolar Disorder without the use of medicines. You should work closely with you doctor though as medicines to have a place in therapy. However the one thing that those few who claim to have overcome the bipolar diagnosis have one thing in common: they all had a commitment to self-development and personal growth that those who just sit back and take their medicines didn’t have.
The first hallmark symptom of Bipolar is racing thoughts. This is a flight of ideas that seems uncontrollable to the mentally ill person. If you can’t control your thoughts then you need medication. Many people didn’t like being “slowed down” and this was one of the side effects they hated about taking antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. But that is the purpose of these drugs given for “manic” depression, the generic name for Bipolar Disorder. Racing thoughts is also a sign of an active mind. This is why the drugs slow your mind down by suppressing dopamine, or basically shrinking your brain over time. Seizure disorders are caused by an active mind; note the drugs given for those are also the “mood stabilizers” or anticonvulsants. This is a sign of intelligence and everyone knows that mentally ill types are highly intelligent people.
Does being intelligent mean you have to take medicine? Or that you are crazy? You will be seen as crazy to the average person who doesn’t understand a word you say because they are of a lesser intellect.
You can control racing thoughts by learning how to meditate mindfully. That is sitting still for twenty minutes and clearing your mind. You may want to play some meditation music or listen to a spiritual teacher with their soothing voice. Smooth jazz also helps, as does journaling if you can write as fast as your mind goes. Over time your thoughts will slow down once you get used to writing out your thoughts on paper. You just need to find something to channel all of that excess energy into. If you drink too much caffeine that could be the secret to your madness, or mania.
Another classic symptoms of Bipolar is that of pressured speech. This goes with racing thoughts but not always. It could also be a symptom of severe anxiety or a speech impediment that is found in many people with Asperger’s Syndrome. You can work with a speech therapist or just save money and use a voice recorder and teach yourself how to enunciate your words. Over time it will become second nature and you will learn how to talk normally as you experience major personal growth.
Other symptoms of mania include sexual promiscuity and going on spending sprees; basically impulsiveness. Do manic depressed people really get that frisky? Let’s look at dopamine and its connection to serotonin. Serotonin is the feel good transmitter while dopamine is the pleasure transmitter. When our serotonin is low we suffer from depression and anxiety. This leads us to want to do anything that brings us pleasure such as having sex or going on a spending spree.
Sounds like self-medication naturally doesn’t it?
On the other hand, note that SSRI’s for depression are seldom given to Bipolar. This is because as serotonin goes up dopamine still increases. As we relax we are prone to want to do what makes us happier because we have excess energy. So we have to take a mood stabilizer to balance out the antidepressant that is giving us too much energy. Note that the manic phase of Bipolar Disorder is an excess of energy. Often it boils down to a lack of self-control. Mental illness is all about our inability to manage emotions. Mentally ill types are usually more sensitive, and highly intelligent, and usually have an excess of emotions.
Until we learn how to manage our mood swings and emotions through personal growth and self-development they will control us. While a bipolar patient should never taper off drugs without a doctor supervising them, they will need other forms of therapy to work on becoming more whole. There are many Anonymous groups for everything, such as Emotions Anonymous.
In order to commit to personal growth you have to be tired of struggling and want change at all costs. You also have to be willing to really get to know yourself. Much of bipolar sounds like severe anxiety if you look close enough but even severe anxiety will be treated with bipolar antipsychotics if it is severe enough. By learning how to control your mind and managing your triggers you can be made whole and go on to live a fuller and richer life.