Here’s What It’s Like To Live With Bipolar Disorder


By Kaitlin Harris

I have bipolar disorder. I can tell you from very personal experience that it’s not easy to live with and it’s certainly not something to be romanticized. 

I was first officially diagnosed when I was going on seventeen. Before this milestone, I had no idea why I seemed to have some days where I was fine and functioning like a normal person, and then the next couple of months were emotional and almost reminiscent of PMS – except ten times worse. Then months after that, I would be feeling better, having all the energy in the world.

I would soon learn that the second thing I described are depressive episodes, which can last up to six to twelve months. The third thing I described are what’s called “manic episodes” – spouts of energy that seemingly come out of nowhere, and can last anywhere from three to six months.

Before I was properly medicated, my outlook on life was skewed.

I had so much going on with my life (things like death in a family and breakups with a significant other are extremely difficult to deal with when you are bipolar) that I didn’t know how to process everything. I started self harming and attempted suicide. This was my breaking point. Thankfully, the people near and dear to me could see it clearly, and they gave me the help and resources that I so desperately needed. I am lucky I had – and still have – such a great support system.

I checked myself into a mental facility where, after some testing, they diagnosed me with Unspecified Mood Disorder. I’m thinking they didn’t want to officially diagnose me with bipolar disorder at the young age of eleven.

You should know this: bipolar will affect both your personal and business relationships. The constant mood swings will take a toll on everything you do. Some days you feel on top of the world, like you are able to take the world head on. Other days, you’ll feel like staying in bed and never coming out.

This sort of inconsistency will confuse others. Some may even call you “lazy” or even “fake” on your off days, and you’ll start to believe it. What’s especially important when dealing with bipolar disorder is to know your sense of worth. Not everyone will understand and accept you. Don’t lose sight of yourself and who you are just because someone is close minded or ignorant about your condition.

If you have or suspect you have bipolar disorder, my advice to you is to get as much research done as possible. It’s vital to understand why you’re feeling what you’re feeling when you’re going through certain situations. I would also advise you to have these three things:

1. A good support system, whether it be friends, family, or a mix of both.

2. Proper medication. Your psychiatrist can help decide what’s best for you.

3. A professional counselor. Taking these steps can ensure a better quality of life for this chronic but liveble condition.

If you know someone with bipolar disorder, whatever you do, don’t tell them to “get over it” or say that “things aren’t that bad”. Understand and sympathize with them to the best of your abilities. Sometimes all it takes is the reassurance that someone is there.

Kaitlin is part of the Contributing Writer Network here at Thirty On Tap. Apply to become a contributor by clicking HERE

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