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"You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle." Julian Seifter
Twenty years of clinical psychology experience would surely back up my claim that it's two-thirds of the battle.
Remember – fighting bipolar disorder is incredibly easier when you have relevant information about the disease. So, let's first dive into the fast facts:
The bipolar disorder can affect anyone. Age, gender or profession is completely irrelevant. But it is most commonly found in 16-24 years old since it's an emotional turning point in our lives. Half of the people are diagnosed before the age of 25.
It is often classified as a brain disorder and is a result of an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.
Fluctuating between manic highs and depressive lows is the best bipolar disorder definition
People suffering from the Bipolar disorder are highly sensitive and always on alert. Whether they are crossing the street in heavy traffic or encountering perfectly tame situations such as making a coffee or a phone call. From a psychological perspective, these situations convey the exact same meaning to them. They view them as a threat.
Their personal struggles are so painful. Every day it feels like they have to disguise in "a socially acceptable person". They"must" be accepted by other people, who by the way can be criminals not yet stigmatized.
Trust = Social Stigma
Many of them are embarrassed to confide their disorder to anyone, even to their closest friends. It's hard for them to trust people since they don't trust themselves. It's their bipolar mindset that convinces them that they are always in jeopardy. To be honest means to be crucified by the society.
Trust equals uncertainty and they are sick and tired of that feeling. In some cases, their fear is quite rational. Many of them have encountered a huge brick wall between them and their employers who don't have sympathy for their condition. What's worse the last are completely ignorant of the symptoms and torture these people are facing every day.
That's why it's so unbearable and frustrating to even try to explain their pain to those who have never experienced a day in their life travelling from paradise to hell and back again. So they either get fired or quit the job to go back home where their sturdy walls will "protect" them.
The same goes for the relationships. Even when surrounded by amazing people they can't relax. They go through every worst-case scenario of what might happen if he/she finds out about their condition and racing thoughts. "What if medication doesn't work? What if they face the worst manic state and lose control? So it's safer to turn down all social invitations and stay in the "comfort" zone which is all but comfortable.
From the biological perspective, when one encounters mania stage his/her frontal lobe is inactive, No breaks. No reasoning. Quite the opposite, amygdala acts like a kickboxer- red hot and hyperactive.
When the depressed amygdala is turned off. One has no emotions and is indifferent and pathetic. The frontal lobe is shut down too.
Fluctuating between mania highs and depressive lows is often hard to bear because it affects every single aspect of one's life. Some patients identify it with a never-ending roller-coaster ride.
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