What is bipolar disorder?

Yes, yes you can find this anywhere on the internet, but here’s my spin on the disorder.

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme fluctuations in mood and energy. People who have the illness will experience mood “episodes” characterized either by abnormally high energy and either euphoric or irritable mood (mania or hypomania) and abnormally low energy and mood (depression). If both happen at the same time, you get a “mixed episode.”

Bipolar comes in many shapes and sizes. The primary two diagnoses are bipolar type 2 and type 1. A diagnosis of bipolar 2 requires an episode of hypomania, and bipolar 1, mania. What’s the difference? If your elevated mood is putting your life and career at risk, or if you are experiencing psychosis, you are likely manic. People can get into trouble while hypomanic too (think sexual indiscretions) but it can also be a highly productive state. The other diagnosis is bipolar NOS, which could mean several things, but most generally means you don’t quite fit into either category.

While it might seem that bipolar type 1 is the more severe diagnosis – you get into trouble on both ends of the spectrum – research has shown that people with bipolar 2 tend to have a more chronic and depressive course of the illness. In other words, definitely not less severe.

I am diagnosed with bipolar type 1 with psychotic features. This means I have experienced “full blown” mania during which time I hallucinated and believed I was communicating with God and angels (delusions). I have also suffered through periods of severe depression with psychotic elements.