“We of the craft are all crazy”, remarked Lord Byron about himself and his fellow poets. “Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched. “
This is an excerpt from Kay Redfield Jamison’s book. A book she dedicated to the connection between Bipolar Disorder also known as, Manic-Depressive Illness, and creative artistic temperament. I’ve been touched. Hence this blog title. I have this illness and I am a creative. I have been touched by fire, but I am held by grace.
But what really is Bipolar? My ex? The weather? My boss?
Your ex indeed could be as well as your boss. But that would mean they would have an illness. A mental illness. In her book Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, Julie Fast describes it like this- “Bipolar Disorder is complex. These days in psychiatric literature it’s popular to refer to “bipolar spectrum disorders,” as there appear to be a number of related conditions that share some common features. All variants of bipolar disorder include the following features.
- Obvious change in moods
- These mood changes are episodic, meaning that they are generally not continuous, but come in fairly separate bouts (rapid cycling is an exception to this)
Bipolar Disorder is due primarily to a biological abnormality involved in brain chemistry. The illness is typically life long and doesn’t simply disappear one day. Without appropriate treatment it can can become progressively more severe. “
There are different forms of this illness. When I was first diagnosed at 19 my psychiatrist told me I had Bipolar Disorder I. Now at 25 after being re-evaluated, I have Bipolar I with Rapid Cycling and many OCD tendencies. Many mental disorders mesh together anyway. You can read Part I of My Journey here. There are four total types of this disorder.
- Bipolar I- those with BPI experience severe depression and full blown manic episodes.
- Bipolar II- those with BPI experience severe depressive episodes with bouts of hypo- manic episodes. Hypo-Mania.
- Cyclothymia- This is mild form of Bipolar Disorder. Episodes are not severe. Mood swings are still present. Those with this illness are often seen as moody and grumpy and too emotional.
- Rapid Cycling- People with Rapid Cycling have what Loving Someone with Bipolar says as high frequency mood episodes and experience four or more episodes of manic/depression in a 12 month period.
What is Depression?
Symptoms of depression include sadness, unhappiness, irritability, low self esteem, a loss of enthusiasm, motivation, or vitality; extremely negative and pessimistic thinking and their are a range full of physical symptoms. disturbances in sleep, appetite, weight, loss of sex drive and fatigue. Intense worry, anxiety, agitation, and suicidal thoughts are also common symptoms.
What is Mania?
There are two types. Full Blown Mania and Hypo-Mania. Full Blown Mania are euphoric or dysphoric episodes. Symptoms include anything from
- grandiose thoughts, heightened self esteem
- agitation, restlessness or an urge to be very outgoing and gregarious
- sexual promiscuity, excessively spending, reckless behavior (driving too fast- substance abuse)
In Euphoria what can begin as productive, creative thoughts can turn to chaos and confusion. Upbeat moods turn into intense irritability and the person in the manic episode loses their ability to function normally. Psychosis often may appear when the manic episode goes this far.
In Dysphoria there is also racing thoughts and high energy but in a mood of despair.
Hypomania which is what those who have Bipolar II are experiencing is less intense than full blown mania.
What is Psychosis?
Delusions, Hallucinations and Paranoid Symptoms.
Mental Illness is a real illness. It is a disease of the mind. It takes lives just like any other illness. Help me break stigma and advocate against ignorance. Stay educated and support those walking this battle.
All medical references, quotes and statistics are cited from “Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder” by Julie Fast and John Preston PSY.D.