I wasn’t going to talk about this here but there are so many assumptions and perceptions about people who are bipolar that it seems like an essential conversation to have with those around us, for those that have just learned they are bipolar, for the families of people that are bipolar to understand that our brains are wired differently, not bad but different.
Bipolar disorder affects as many 27 million people worldwide, but it is not particularly well understood (Owen). It is characterized by extreme shifts in mood, from periods of mania, to periods of depression. Like schizophrenia, it is a mental illness that Western society still looks upon in many ways as a form of madness. There is no cure for bipolar disorder, and the treatments that exist are not particularly reliable. (Serendip) One doctor I visited told me that self-medicating myself for years with speed was probably helping mask the bipolar symptons and that I should go on Ritalin to help with the depression and Ambien to bring down the mania – sounds crazy right?
And even for those who are helped by mood stabilizing medications, they are not a cure. For most people, symptoms persist despite whatever help medication and therapy may provide. It is from this that the stigma of bipolar disorder arises. The vast majority of mental illnesses are static conditions; their symptoms can be predicted and compensated for, either through medication or a change in behavior. Such is not the case with bipolar disorder; the changes can be sudden and incomprehensible. (Serendip)
Western medicine doesn’t understand what causes bipolar and they try drug upon drug upon drug to help with the symptons, many of which don’t help. And when you’re in a mania phase, you feel great and stop taking your medication because of course you’re on top of the world and don’t need drugs to control your symptons. And then of course, its starts all over again, your brain shifts, you feel depressed and irritable and angry, lashing out at people you love or hiding within your house, stuffing all those horrible feelings deep inside until your brain shifts again and your on top of the world. Ah, the brain shifting, my brain sometimes goes to sleep for a while during the shift, I’m awake and working but can’t always remember why I did something a certain way.
The western world views that people that are bipolar have a madness or are unstable or unable to hold down jobs or unable to babysit nieces or would be horrible as parents and the list goes on and on because our moods shift so erratically. Holding down a job is sometimes hard but starting my own business has helped tremedously with this so-called madness in my brain, I can set my own schedule and switch things around if needed.
I told a friend tonight I was doing great for years and years and then I got older, hormones changed and all the sudden it started coming back in leaps and bounds + my stress levels got higher and higher, then the anxiety started and then the weird issue of not wanting to leave my house, I have to make myself leave some days and I stopped blogging and keeping things to myself…anyways, keeping shit to myself doesn’t help with the bipolar manic thing – our thoughts are racing and then I slam into a wall and don’t want to do anything or be…the life of being bipolar, our brains are different, not bad but different. Don’t stop talking about it, don’t keep it all inside yourself.
New research indicates that differences in brain anatomy may contribute to the development of bipolar disorder and that neurotransmitter imbalances may be capable of changing the brain. neurotransmitters are involved in the aetiology of mood disorders, especially the monoamines (noradrenaline,serotonin and dopamine) and acetylcholine. While earlier simplistic theories suggested that an excess of neurotransmitters occured during a manic episode and a decrease occurred during depression, this is clearly not the case. Instead, it is the effectiveness of the cell functioning under the modification and control of neurotransmitters that underlies the pathoetiology of mood disorders. (Bipolar Disorder: Aetiology).
I have a new natural eastern medicine doctor that is treating the neurotransmitter imbalances in my brain which is helping with the anxiety and stress levels although I still feeling the mania creeping in and the depression fighting for control. What really sucks is sometimes I can feel incredibly energetic and horribly depressed at the same time, which side is winning in my brain?
Anyways, the new research seems to explain that people with bipolar aren’t mad, we are wired differently not bad but different. We still capable of being parents, being in a relationship, babysitting, some days may be great, some days may be bad but we’re still capable of functioning in the world, we dance to our own tune because we’re wired a little differently, being unique is a good thing.
“Bipolar Disorder: Aetiology.” Brain Explorer. Lundbeck Institute, Web. 15 Feb 2010. http://www.brainexplorer.org/bipolar_disorder/Bipolar_Disorder_Aetiology.shtml
Serendip: Disease or Madness: Society’s Perception of Bipolar Disorder 2/23/10