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How a Person with Bipolar Thinks

By Natashatracy

This is an interesting question: how does a person with bipolar disorder think? Of course, it’s hard for me to compare it with your average person as I have bipolar disorder. I don’t have the two thought processes in my one brain to compare.

This is not to say that we all think the same way; nevertheless, I do have some ideas on how people with bipolar disorder think that seem to stand out amongst the “normals.”

Obsessive Bipolar Thoughts

Your average person may have obsessive thoughts, now and then, I don’t know, but what I do know is that people with bipolar disorder have obsessive thoughts a lot of the time. These obsessive bipolar thoughts may be a repeating song from the radio, scenarios (such as a suicide scene) or a replaying of events (often negative ones), but obsessive thoughts seem to be the rule rather than the exception.

Note that research bears this out indicating that people with bipolar disorder have higher rates of obsessive-compulsive disorder than the average population.

Extreme Bipolar Thoughts

People with bipolar disorder think differently, so how does a person with bipolar disorder think? More at the Bipolar Burble blog.It seems to me that simply by the virtue of extreme emotional experience, people with bipolar disorder think in the extreme quite frequently. Everything feels like the end of the world (catastrophizing). We’re not upset, we’re depressed. We’re not suspicious, we’re paranoid. We’re not happy, we’re elated. And, of course, there are all the thoughts that go along with these things. If our boyfriend looks at another girl he must be cheating. If we have a disagreement with a friend they must hate us. If we’re criticized at work we must be getting fired. It’s not that we don’t necessarily understand these things aren’t reasonable; it’s just that we can’t help the way our brain thinks, the way it leaps.

Not everyone jumps to the extremes, but people with bipolar seem to have that tendency.

Anxious Bipolar Thoughts

Of course, because people with bipolar have jumped to the extremes – usually negative ones – we sure the heck worry about it once we get there. Worried and anxious bipolar thoughts are very common and, what’s worse, is that seeing as we also obsess, we tend to obsessively worry or feel obsessively anxious.

Distracted Bipolar Thoughts

And then there are all the distracted-, multi-tasking-type thoughts. People with bipolar disorder have higher rates of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and regardless as to whether you have ADHD, people with bipolar disorder tend to think in ADHD-type ways. We tend to multi-task compulsively. We tend to get distracted. We tend to run away with our thoughts.

Overreaction to Bipolar Thoughts

It’s not very surprising that due to all these odd thoughts, due to all the extreme, obsessive and distracting thoughts that we overreact to situations. If your brain automatically goes to a catastrophe situation and then becomes obsessed with it, it’s really tough to have a moderate response – even when it’s a moderate situation.

I’m sure this frustrates the people around us to no end, but I have to say, it frustrates me considerably more.

Dealing with These Bipolar Thoughts

People with bipolar disorder are constantly trying to figure out what a “normal” and “reasonable” thought process and reaction would be in any given situation. We’re constantly trying to overcome how our bipolar brain naturally thinks in order to have healthy interactions and healthy relationships. We’re constantly trying to deal with the extremeness of our thoughts internally so we don’t thrust them on the external world.

And this is beyond difficult. Trying to defeat the way a bipolar brain thinks is near-on impossible. Dealing with bipolar thoughts is a full-time gig and an exhausting one at that. But it is important. Because if we don’t moderate our own thoughts and deal with them appropriately, we can’t hope to have healthy relationships with others. And if that happens then all those pesky catastrophes we worried needlessly about will have come true.

Source: natashatracy.com

21 things you only know if you’re bipolar

21 things you only know if you're bipolar
(Illustration by Charly Clements for Metro.co.uk)

I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, when I was 24.

Since then I’ve spent many years hiding it from friends, family and colleagues.

It’s only recently I’ve started writing and speaking openly about it, in the hope that other people, with or without mental health conditions, feel less afraid of them.

While I can’t speak for everyone with manic depression, bipolar disorder, ups and downs or whatever you choose to call it, I believe we have some things in common.

Here’s 21 things you only know if you’re bipolar.

1. It’s hard to finish one thing at a time

On the way up, you start doing the washing up, then you think of a poem and get a quarter of the way through it, then you remember you wanted to alphabetise your books, then you start watching a film, then you do more of the (now cold) washing up.

2. Sometimes the world turns black and white

When you’re depressed you stop enjoying things you used to, nothing seems worthwhile and all you want to do is sleep for a thousand years.

3. It doesn’t mean you’re up and down all the time

Everyone’s different – you can have rapid cycling (where you quickly go from high to low), mixed state (when you have symptoms of depression and mania at the same time), or go gradually up and down with periods of ‘normality’ in between.

4. You may be mildly amused by people who take drugs recreationally

There’s something rather tame about pill-popping in a field of muddy campers on a Bank Holiday weekend when you’re walking around with what feels like a permanent pharmacy dispensing random chemicals in a Russian roulette style in your head.

5. Madness

Everyone experiences mania differently, whether it’s delusions such as thinking you have superpowers, suddenly getting it into your head to get on a train to Scotland instead of the train home, not sleeping because you have so much to write or paint, or suffering hallucinations.

Losing control of your mind is odd to say the least. Imagine losing control of your limbs – having them dance about or do things without your input. Then apply that to your daily thought processes.

6. Stigma

Talking about mental health can be so scary that many people decide not to tell anyone.

The ignorance and discrimination surrounding mental illness is considerable.

Although sometimes the person who discriminates the most against you is you.

7. You are probably a great listener

Somehow you have become the one friends turn to with their troubles.

You don’t know whether this is because you’ve had counselling and therefore have picked up how to listen sympathetically, or because you are more guarded than others about yourself so others fill silences with chatter.

8. Pill podge

Oh great, so as well as being mad I have to be fat too, thanks for that, THANKS VERY MUCH.

9. Sometimes pills have unexpectedly cool side effects

I used to have poker straight hair. My pills have made it curly. Honest to God.

10. The buzz

The buzz of hypomania isn’t fun – it’s more like having espresso in your veins.

Admittedly you can get quite a lot done during these times though.

11. You don’t find suicidal thoughts scary

They’re more like preteens hanging round Justin Beiber’s hotel in the rain – sometimes they change, sometimes they go, occasionally we pay them attention but mostly they just linger.

12. Some people apparently don’t believe mental illness exists

Such people will say things like the above, and things like ‘he was signed off work for stress – not a real illness like gastroenteritis’.

13. You can remember it all

All the times you thought you could breathe under water, bring back the dead, or however mania’s hit you. And you can’t even laugh it off by saying you were drunk or high.

14. You can act

Your most celebrated role? ‘Normal person who is totally fine and there’s nothing wrong at all’.

15. You’re probably a perfectionist

You need to sleep but you told the office you’d bring in homemade cupcakes the next day so you’re still up at 1am rolling edible flowers in egg yolk and sugar.

16. How not to cry when you really want to cry

And where to bolt to when your usual methods fail you.

17. That sinking feeling when you see another ‘crazy’ stereotype on TV or film

People who have suffered from mental illness are far more likely to hurt themselves, or be the victims of attacks.

Despite this, lazy scriptwriters still rely on tropes when they need a scary character.

18. Sometimes you’re a shopping liability

You’ve gone over your overdraft more times than you can remember buying things you don’t even want during a manic phase.

During mania or hypomania your brain makes weird connections and all of a sudden it makes perfect sense to buy a set of golf clubs when you haven’t played a day in your life.

19. Alcohol is usually best avoided

Alcohol is a depressant.

Adding this in to your natural brain chemistry and mood stabilisers isn’t fun the morning after.

Normal hangovers are bad enough – yours are worse than a coke come-down and often leave you a weeping, morose mess.

20. Relationships can be hard

I once dumped the man I loved during a manic phase and we never recovered.

Not everyone can face mental illness, but then relationships can be challenging for everyone, in all kinds of ways.

A friend who is also bipolar has been married for years, which gives me hope.

21. You are stronger than you know

Sometimes getting through another day is a huge achievement. Don’t give up.

Three Bipolar Disorder Symptoms No One Wants to Talk About

The three symptoms below represent the side of bipolar disorder we all know is there, but we rarely want to let the public know exists.

By Julie A. Fast

I shhhknow how important it is to protect the reputation of bipolar disorder in the general public. We don’t want people thinking we are dangerous, scary, crazy people who can’t be trusted. But I do feel we need to own up to the fact that certain mood swings DO cause the behaviors we want to sweep under the carpet. The three symptoms below represent the side of bipolar disorder we all know is there, but we rarely want to let the public know exists. This is only an opinion of course, but I’m truly interested to know if you feel the same.

#1 Dangerous, aggressive and violent behavior in bipolar disorder

I work with parents and partners of those with bipolar disorder. In the majority of situations, people who are in a strong dysphoric manic episode can be dangerous, aggressive and violent. Physical assault and weapons are not uncommon. Many men go to jail because of this behavior when they actually need psychiatric help. People, both men and women who are mild mannered and kind when well, get super human strength along with the aggression- ripping a sink out of the wall- punching through windows- throwing chairs and other dangerous behavior are not uncommon.

Families and partners suffer in silence because they are scared to tell anyone about what really goes on at home.

I have violent and HOMMICIDAL thoughts when the dysphoric mania is raging. I used to chase down cars if the driver flipped me off or made a strange face. It is not my goal to scare anyone reading this blog. It’s my goal that we are honest about these hidden and pushed under the rug symptoms of bipolar disorder.

The solution is management. People with bipolar disorder do not have these symptoms unless the mood swings are raging. Prevent the mood swings and you can prevent the dangerous, aggressive and violent behavior

#2 Psychosis in Bipolar Disorder

I have rapid cycling bipolar disorder two with psychotic features. I experienced undiagnosed psychotic symptoms from age 19 to 31 when I was finally diagnosed. I’ve had hallucinations and delusions all of my adult life. What scares me is that no one and I mean no one educated me about psychosis when I was diagnosed. It was as if the symptoms didn’t exist. When I learned the extent of my psychosis, I was appalled that I had lived with it for so long. My symptoms were mostly visual hallucinations and paranoid delusions. I didn’t know that others didn’t have them as well! If you have bipolar disorder one, there is a 70% chance of full on psychosis when you are in a full blown manic episode. This psychosis can be very bizarre and mimic schizophrenia. The difference? People with bipolar disorder only have psychosis during a manic or depressed mood swing. There is no psychosis outside of depression or mania. If a person has psychosis in between episodes, this is called schizo affective disorder. Do you or your loved ones have psychosis? If bipolar disorder is involved, psychosis could be involved as well.

#3 Cognitive Impairment in Bipolar Disorder

Many people find this scary. We already have bipolar disorder, does this mean we have memory problems as well? Maybe. Cognitive impairment from memory lapses, forgetting appointments, being unable to remember information and experiencing brain fog during certain episodes is common! If you have bipolar, you’ve probably felt the sluggish brain that comes with depression. If you have mania, you have probably tripped over your words, said things you don’t mean and had trouble thinking in order.

My cognitive symptoms visit me daily. I’m not able to remember dates and numbers and need help with calendars and appointments. Mine got worse after [intense therapy I had for severe depression.] It’s something I find distressing, but it’s easy to manage. I want us to be open about cognitive issues. This is the only way we can get help! Mine tend to linger all of the time, but get worse with mood swings. A perfect example of this- I am supposed to put this blog up by midnight the day of my blog slot. I reminded myself all day yesterday to put it up, but still managed to go to sleep without posting it on time. I have to live with these symptoms and even though a few things slip through, I do control the majority of my minor memory problems with a good support system!

Here’s the good news- yes, there is good news!

Bipolar disorder is an episodic illness. We have all of our symptoms while in a mood swing. This means we are STABLE when we are not in a mood swing. The symptoms I list above usually go away when the illness is successfully managed. It can take regular monitoring for those of us who have daily symptoms. Others who have long breaks between mood swings may even forget the symptoms even existed. This is why we must have a management plan that can recognize the dangerous, aggressive and violent behavior, psychosis and cognitive impairment as soon as it begins.

I know we want to protect our reputations around this illness. We don’t want to be seen as different or freaks. But I ask that within our community, we get brutally honest about what really happens to those of us with the illness. It’s the ONLY way to stop the symptoms and make them stay away forever!

Julie

Source www.bphope.com

When You’re Married To Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder wears many faces. There are as many experiences with bipolar disorder as there are people with bipolar. These experiences run the gamut from wonderful and exciting to confusing, disappointing and devastating. This article addresses some of the issues that can arise when dealing with a spouse with bipolar disorder.

Like all individuals, people with bipolar disorder have many good attributes, but at times, they also display less desirable qualities, such as being withdrawn, irritable, moody, and depressed.  They may be affectionate and loving sometimes and then cold and distant at other times. The person may welcome and enjoy sex one day, while rejecting affection the next day. These erratic behaviors can be quite challenging for all concerned, especially spouses.

At times the person with bipolar disorder may experience manic or hypomanic episodes (manic but more controlled and less extreme) during which they can be fun, interesting, talkative, upbeat and full of energy. At other times, the person may experience depression that effects them physically, spiritually and soulfully. The spouse might feel confused, not knowing how to deal with certain behaviors.

The tricky part comes up when neither you nor your spouse knows bipolar disorder may be behind the tension and trouble between the two of you. Often the individual doesn’t even know she has bipolar disorder. People can go years and even decades without a diagnosis or treatment. It might take you to get them in for a diagnosis.

If your spouse has experienced debilitating periods of sadness, followed by periods of high excitement and activity, he or she may have bipolar disorder. Below, you’ll find a list of typical behaviors exhibited by those with bipolar disorder. If your spouse or significant other has been unusually excited or active for a week at a time and displays three of the symptoms listed below, talk with your healthcare provider about bipolar disorder.

  • Racing thoughts, rapid speech
  • Easily distracted, can’t concentrate well
  • Exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
  • An inflated perspective about abilities and qualities
  • Impulsive and reckless behavior
  • Poor decision making, rash business decisions
  • Shopping sprees, excessive money-spending
  • Irresponsible driving choices
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Delusions (holding untrue beliefs)
  • Hallucinations (seeing and/or hearing things that aren’t there)

Another way to determine if a person has bipolar disorder is to consider his or her childhood. The lives of teens struggling with mood disorders can be marred by poor decisions and/or ineffective, misguided attempts to cope. Teens with mood disorders may experience the following symptoms and/or behaviors:

  • Academic struggles
  • School suspension or expulsion
  • Destruction of property
  • Social isolation
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Frequent misunderstandings
  • Inability to finish projects
  • Reckless behavior (speeding, unprotected sex, over-spending)
  • Extreme defiance
  • Poor social skills
  • Disconnection
  • Controlling behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

Keep in mind that adults with bipolar disorder may have experienced a childhood in which they were aware that their moods and behaviors were different from their peers, resulting in a sense of being different, disconnected, or outcast. As a result they are likely to develop poor coping skills that do them an injustice as adults. Some of these coping mechanisms include:

Disconnection: When young people with bipolar can’t understand or predict others’ moods and behaviors, they may cope with feeling disconnected by withdrawing, usually interacting with one or very few people who can meet their needs.

Controlling Behaviors:  When you can’t predict someone else’s behavior, one way to feel safe is to learn to control others. Control is a subtle art, and often controlling people have been practicing it for decades. A portion of the bipolar population becomes “controlling.” This at first can show up as a talkative and outgoing, but soon suggestions and discussions become manipulative. Examples of controlling statements include:

  • “Why would you do that?”
  • “Does that really make sense?”
  • “Only an insecure person would think that way.”

These habits can be so ingrained that they are difficult to change without professional help.

Drug/Alcohol Abuse: The feelings someone with bipolar disorder experiences can be so overwhelming, they might think the only way out is with street drugs. A significant proportion of those who abuse alcohol and narcotics have an underlying mood disorder, particularly bipolar disorder and depression.

Overspending: During mania or hypomania, someone with bipolar disorder can find all sorts of reasons to rationalize spending gobs of money on whatever their hearts desire. Some people who know they struggle with this choose to let their spouses control the money, particularly when they recognize a manic episode coming on. This may involve the other spouse keeping the credit cards or even the car keys.

Irritability: People with bipolar disorder and even those with depression can experience uncontrollable irritability. A spouse often serves as an outlet for their overwhelming anger, but so can children, other drivers and other family members.

Grandiosity: The imbalance of chemicals in the brain can cause those with bipolar disorder to have an inflated images of themselves. They may feel they’re more talented or more psychic than most. They may think that they’re needed take care of governmental or world-wide problems.

Try to remember that the person suffering from bipolar disorder does not directly control most of these behaviors (although they can learn to work on them in therapy). They are influenced by the balance or imbalance of chemicals in their brain.

What Does It Mean for Our Marriage if My Spouse Has Bipolar Disorder?

There are two answers to this question. If you spouse fully accepts the diagnosis and resolves to get treatment, you could begin working together and make the marriage stronger than ever. Many people with bipolar disorder have happy, successful marriages.

If, on the other hand, your spouse refuses treatment, you must learn to protect yourself from abuse. Abuse can take the form of

  • Verbal abuse (rampant blaming)
  • Financial abuse (spending money; taking on massive debt)
  • Emotional abuse (controlling, cruel behavior)
  • Physical abuse (when irritability spins out of control)

Source: ibpf.org

7 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Being In Love When You’re Bipolar