I was diagnosed with severe depression in June/July 2013, and bipolar disorder in September 2014. Both diagnoses were similar in the sense that there is a depressed element; but with bipolar disorder, there is also a manic stage, which is the polar opposite of depression.
My behaviour and reaction in both stages were extremely different, as suggested by the term “bipolar”. It was difficult for myself and others to accept and deal with during both times.
When depression hit, all I wanted to do was completely withdraw from all social interactions and normal activities that I would have otherwise enjoyed doing. I was very quiet and pretty much lifeless because I simply could not bring myself to do anything which was concerning to those around me.
With the manic stage, my behaviour and mentality changed drastically. It went from lifeless to completely over the top confidence in everything. During mania, I would feel really restless, as if there is a huge amount of energy and thoughts struggling to be released from within. I would be itching to talk to anyone about anything at all. It was quite dangerous. I also had a lot of energy and willpower to do everything.
What I came to realise is that when I was depressed, I was withdrawing because I feared everything; and when I became manic, I was desperately reaching out to anyone who would listen to help me release the excessive energy that I had in me.
And this is where the problem starts – when I was manic, I pretty much thought I wad invincible. With the amount of confidence I had, I was thinking, doing and saying things that I otherwise wouldn’t have, which a lot of it I now regret. It wasn’t that I did anything terrible to anyone, it’s just I wish I was able to hold back a little then.
This brings me to what I feel are important for people (and those around him/her) who have this condition:
1. Be patient. Whether it’s depression or mania, it’s difficult to live with, but it will eventually pass and you will only come out from it stronger than ever. This also applies to your loved ones around you, it is as hard, if not harder for them, and both parties will need to be patient to see things through together.
2. Trust your loved ones. They are the ones who know you best. If they notice a problem, then chances are, there is a problem. You need to try and listen to them and reflect on what is different to see that there is something that needs to be addressed. I know it’s extremely difficult to trust a loved one if they say they feel that you are a bit manic and need to hold back a little, I know it was difficult for me, I didn’t understand why they said I would regret it but now I see it. It is hard to trust them but you just have to try.
3. Try to live normally. It is the nature of depression to want to withdraw from everything, but it is extremely important to keep going with what you would normally do, albeit lesser and at a slower pace. For example, seeing friends or people other than those who live with you, you may feel reluctant and be more quiet than usual, but it’s okay. It’ll be better than being cooped up.
4. Don’t feel like you’re alone. You’re not. It is a very common problem in the high stress society that we live in now. And we always have our family and friends to lean on for support and love.
5. Seek help. It’s important to have the right support when it comes to depression or bipolar disorder. Whether it is normal counselling, psychiatric counselling or just discussion with a loved one. Talking to other people and getting the right support is very important in gaining the right perspective on things.
I am happy to say that I am a lot better now, if not fully recovered. Although I wasn’t able to do points 1-5 fully during my battle, I do now realise the importance of them. I hope this post will help some of you out there. Hang in there, you will be okay.