It's commonly misdiagnosed and a really hard mental illness to deal with.
First off, let's go over some facts about bipolar disorder:
There are two types of bipolar. Bipolar I and bipolar II. Bipolar I has severe manic episodes [to be explained later in the paragraph] while bipolar II has hypomanic episodes. Mania is a state of abnormally elevated or heightened mood. The opposite of depression, in a sense.
Symptoms of mania include:
- Decreased need for sleep
- Racing thoughts
- Tendency to engage in impulsive behavior such as spending recklessly
- Excess energy
- Feelings of grandiosity
For hypomania, the symptoms are the same without the delusions and hallucinations and are less severe.
Both of these forms of bipolar have, along with mania or hypomania, episodes of depression. These episodes can last from hours to days, months, even years. The episodes cycle between depression and [hypo]mania.
Symptoms of depression include:
- insomnia or hyposomnia
- lack of concentration or tasks are more difficult now
- feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- uncontrollable negative thoughts
- loss of appetite or increase in appetite
- thoughts of suicide [seek help immediately if you have these thoughts]
Getting Help and Helping Yourself
1. Get treatment. Go to a therapist and tell them how you're feeling. They'll continue doing therapy with you and recommend a psychiatrist who can give you medication.
2. Get active in your treatment. Learn everything you can about bipolar disorder; become an expert in the symptoms and warning signs of either depression or [hypo]mania.
3. Take your medication as instructed. Do not skip medicine and if you feel that the side effects are too much, or there is some other reason you do not want to take your medicine, tell your doctor!
4. Keep track of your moods. Keep a journal and rate your emotions 1-10 for each day. Then keep track of whether you took your medicine or not, and your thoughts about suicide or self-injury for the day if this applies.
5. Stick to a daily routine. Make sure you get adequate sleep every night with a consistent bedtime. Eat three balanced meals a day and exercise regularly.
6. Reach out for support and build relationships. Start with your friends and family, they need to know what you're going through in order to help you. Make sure not to isolate yourself, this can only make things worse.
7. Avoid alcohol, drugs, and caffeine. Alcohol is a depressant and slows your body down and caffeine is a stimulant: this could cause a manic episode.Trying to self-medicate or numb your emotions through alcohol and drugs can only make your symptoms worse.