Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes a person to experience extreme or sudden changes in mood. At one extreme is depression which can be physically debilitating, so much so that a large number of people with bipolar disorder have trouble keeping a job and rely on government benefits. At the other extreme is mania which often comes with feelings of optimism, creativity and even invincibility. This can result in somewhat erratic and unpredictable behavior which puts a heavy strain on relationships and finances. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Do I have bipolar disorder?”, then read on.
Bipolar is Still Used As An Insult
It is still very common in our society to call a person bipolar if they cry, get angry or get emotional regularly. This is usually meant as a joke or even an insult, but it may leave you wondering if they are right.
It’s good that you are here researching and learning about bipolar disorder, but you should keep in mind that only a licensed professional can give you a proper diagnosis. Part of the reason is that you may have no disorder at all but you are just surrounded by a bunch of jerks! Another reason is that there are several mental health conditions that share some symptoms with bipolar disorder, so getting a proper diagnosis will ensure that you receive the proper treatment.
Educate Yourself, But Let the Professionals Diagnose
While there is no list of questions I could give you that would allow you to properly self diagnose yourself as having bipolar disorder, there are some questions we can ask that should help you decide if it would be a good idea to seek the opinion of a mental health professional.
Suicide and Fantasies of Death
The first question is to consider if you ever have thoughts of suicide or wanting to die. These are not thoughts to be ashamed of, but they are painful thoughts and whether or not you have bipolar disorder, feelings of wanting to end it all can be relieved if you receive the proper treatment.
Not all people with bipolar disorder are or have been suicidal, but most are very familiar with depression. If you find yourself feeling physically fatigued, emotionally drained, apathetic or pessimistic, you may be dealing with depression.
Is There Really Relief for Depression?
When you’re depressed, it feels like it’s never going to get better, that’s why some people end up having suicidal thoughts. The truth is that you can get relief from depression in a number of ways. Sometimes it requires medication, but other times you can get significant relief by following the advice on this website. Things like nutrition, exercise, good sleep hygiene, and routine go a long way in treating depression naturally.
Do you ever find yourself crying for no apparent reason? That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have bipolar disorder or that you need any kind of medication, but it’s a good sign that you need some kind of help. Finding a therapist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy can help you challenge the negative thoughts that are causing you unnecessary grief.
The Most Telling Sign is a Manic Episode
Have you ever gone multiple days or even weeks without sleep and felt like it didn’t slow you down at all? This is a classic symptom of a manic episode and a sign that you may have bipolar disorder. Sometimes people who are taking drugs experience something similar but if you have bipolar disorder it will occur naturally if your not receiving the proper treatment.
Get in Touch With a Doctor, Know Your Options
Getting a 1st appointment with a psychiatrist can be difficult. Many aren’t accepting new patients or have waiting lists 2-4 months long. Don’t get discouraged by this, just make a few calls. If you feel that you need to speak with someone now you have a few options.
Start With Your Primary Care Physician
The easiest route is to consult your primary care physician. She should know about your mental health anyways and can probably make a recommendation or get you a referral to see a psychiatrist sooner than you could on your own.
Try Your Local County’s Mental Health Clinic
If you do a google search for the local county mental health care in your area. Most of these clinics accept walk-ins and are much cheaper than going to a private practice, the services could even be free depending on your financial situation. Be patient though, these are run by the government so it might feel like your going to the post office or dmv.
If It’s an Emergency, Go to Urgent Care
If you find yourself in a situation that you would call urgent because of suicidal thoughts during a depression or erratic behavior like gambling, overspending, or sexual promiscuity (this might be mania) go to the nearest urgent mental health care facility. It’s like an ER for mental health and they will take you no matter what.
The Future is Bright, Have Hope
Whether or not you have bipolar disorder, the fact that you are wondering tells me that you are probably having a hard time. It’s important to remember that our emotions are temporary, they come and go and they largely depend on the circumstances in our life.
Some people would be disappointed, or worse, to learn that they have bipolar disorder. But for many, including myself, it was a relief. I spent many years suffering in silenced, undiagnosed, not knowing why life was so difficult for me. When I received my diagnosis a few things changed.
- I became more forgiving and kind towards myself (I used to be very self critical)
- Whenever I had a hard time, at I least knew why. This helped me to better understand myself and my triggers as I became more self aware.
- I received the right treatment. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have received the proper treatment for my disorder. It has helped me make great improvements in my mood and my quality of life. While no treatment alone is a magic bullet, I am now in a better position to keep healthy habits and lead a lifestyle that supports my mental health.