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Heaven and hell, in a single brain | All the things you need to know about Bipolar Disorder

“She is sometimes a ranged shrew, with shrieks pierced my ears and frightful expressions in her eyes; standing on the stage, she forgets her lines, sings the wrong words, assaults other actors and falls into frustration from time to time. While she comes to a silence, her suffering martyrdom reveals her facet of a child.”

Vivien Leigh may leave us with an impression of the sprightly, shining Scarlet in Gone with the Wind. However, the fact that she suffered from bipolar disorder is not a secret. Swinging in this bi-polar state, she exchanged for a dazzling but brief life at the expense of her health.

So today, let us talk about all things related to bipolar disorder.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depression, is a severe mental illness characterized by alternating periods of mania and depression.

Mania is a remarkable characteristic of bipolar disorder, which commonly features:

  • A heightened state of mind: an individual’s mind is extremely high but easily enraged.

  • Racing thoughts: an individual’s pace of thinking is much faster than the frequency of language expression; individuals may speak very quickly often making quick changes between different topics. Sometimes individuals even find it hard to express themselves as their brains are too full of ideas.

  • Increased activity: an individual becomes extremely talkative, fast-talking, and exaggerated in their words and content.

  • Elevated self-esteem with impulsive behavior.

  • Little need for sleep: the individual never gets tired even after prolonged activity and after working for a long time; they do not need to sleep, or only sleep a little.

The main character of Skam — the Norwegian TV series, suffers from bipolar disorder. When he is in a manic episode he never sleeps at night and runs around naked at midnight. He, on a whim, breaks into other people’s houses to swim, and speaks unceasingly in an unconstrained style.

Depression is the second characteristic of bipolar disorder. Depressive episodes of bipolar disorder tend to be very similar to single-phase depression (major depressive disorder) and they are difficult to distinguish clinically. Low state of mind, loss of interest, and decreased activity also appear when patients enter episodes of depression. Only when they feel depressed, do people with bipolar disorder tend to seek help. In fact, it is exactly because they only go to the doctor when they feel depressed that many people suffering from bipolar disorder are wrongly diagnosed as having depression. So, if you notice symptoms of depression in your family or friends, you had better pay attention to if they show manic behavior as well.

The most painful truth for bipolar disorder patients is that they are alternately attacked by mania and depression. Sometimes you may see them living in an extreme high state of mind — so high that they feel like they are the master of the universe. In contrast, they sometimes get so depressed that they no longer want to carry on living.

One bipolar disorder sufferer said to us, “Someone bleeds all his energy to keep living — that person is me.”

Some misconceptions about bipolar disorder:

Those who experience the pain will feel empathy towards those people suffering it. People without such experiences may easily have some misunderstandings and confusion about mental illness. This is especially true for bipolar disorder, which may give people a large space for imagination, and leads many misconceptions to arise.

1) Bipolar is just the normal ups and downs of moods.

Many people may simply regard bipolar disorder as a state of “sometimes happy, sometimes sad”. Some people may put the label of “bipolar” on themselves and others at their will.

This is very unfair for those who are actually suffering from bipolar disorder — just as some wrongly believe that patients with depression will get better merely by “being more positive”. It minimizes what it is actually like to live with bipolar.

Sufferers of bipolar disorder are always swinging between heaven and hell in their lives. The feelings of surging and falling follow them, along with the struggle through day and night. As people who have not experienced bipolar, we may seek excitement by playing Mega Drop. But what if you imagine that you spend your entire life on the Mega Drop? This would probably be somewhat like the reality of a bipolar disorder patient.