I AM Bi-Polar II…Part 2

I was diagnosed with bi-polar II in 2008 when I wasn't sleeping but also didn't feel the need to sleep. I wasn't tired at all and I was full of energy. I went to the doctor to get some help sleeping. Please note that I have suffered with depression most of my life. My father and sister both have major depression, so depression was something I was familiar with, but everything I read, said that depression was temporary. I was depressed for YEARS. So when I went to the doctor for help with sleep, I mentioned that I had been depressed for years and that everything I read said that depression was temporary. And he said "You don't have depression, you have bi-polar II. Not having a clue as to what that was I went home and looked up as much as I could. Finally a diagnosis that made sense.

Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depressive disorder. It is a mental illness that presents itself as mood swings or mood cycling. Many people do not realize that there are actually two types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I disorder is typically defined as raging mood cycling with episodes of extreme mania and depression, as well as the occasional mixed episode. Bipolar I patients may also experience psychotic or hallucinating symptoms. 

Bipolar II disorder is typically defined as rapid mood cycling with episodes of hypo-mania and depression. Bipolar II disorder does not occur with psychotic or hallucinating symptoms. Additionally, hypo-mania is defined as a milder form of mania, in which the patient has a period of heightened happiness or elation. Depression with bipolar II patients is often more severe than in patients with bipolar I disorder. Suicide, suicide threats, suicide attempts, and thoughts of suicide are much more common in bipolar II patients than bipolar I patients. 

A diagnosis of bipolar II disorder is typically made when the patient has had one or more major depressive episodes, at least one hypo-mania episode, no manic episodes, and when no other reason for symptoms can be found.  

Symptoms of depression with bipolar II disorder include decreased energy, unexplained weight changes, feelings of despair, increased irritability, and uncontrollable crying. Symptoms of hypo-mania include sleeplessness, racing thoughts, distractibility, excess energy, and rash judgments. These symptoms are similar to mania, but are less severe.

Treatment of bipolar II disorder typically involves a combination of medication and therapy or counseling. Medications typically prescribed for treatment of bipolar II disorder include anti-depressants such as Celexa, as well as mood stabilizers such as Topomax. Mood stabilizers are vitally important in treatment of bipolar disorders, because antidepressants alone can cause the patient to enter into a manic or hypo-mania episode. 

Bipolar II disorder is actually often misdiagnosed as clinical depression. This is due to the fact that depression is most often present, and hypo-mania episodes rarely come to light in therapy sessions due to their upbeat nature. It is typically through treatment by antidepressants that the correct diagnosis is made, because the patient will spin into a hypo-mania episode almost immediately if the diagnosis should be bipolar II disorder rather than clinical depression. 

Counseling or therapy treatment options for bipolar II disorder may include traditional counseling methods, discussion of triggers and life style changes that can lessen the severity of episodes, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Patients with a mild case of bipolar II disorder may benefit from counseling or therapy alone without medication. However, this is less common with bipolar II disorder than with bipolar I disorder, due to the nature of the severity of the depressive states. 

It is vitally important for people with symptoms of bipolar II disorder to seek the help of mental health professionals as soon as symptoms become evident. Bipolar II disorder patients account for at least half of the suicides each year. To prevent suicidal behavior, it is important for bipolar II patients to be properly diagnosed at an early stage, so that ongoing treatment of the illness can begin and be continued in order to avoid suicidal behavior. 

If your loved one has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you may be in shock and may not know what to say. It’s important to choose your words carefully, because what you communicate can either support your loved one and encourage them to seek treatment or make them feel even worse about themselves and their diagnosis, discouraging them from getting the help they need. 

Bipolar Disorder: The Nine Worst Things to Say 

You may have been surprised by your loved one’s diagnosis and his behavior may be very frustrating, but no matter what they do (or doesn’t do) and how upset you get, do your best to avoid saying the following:

  1. You’re crazy.
  2. This is your fault.
  3. You’re not trying.
  4. Everyone has bad times.
  5. You’ll be okay — there’s no need to worry.
  6. You’ll never be in a serious romantic relationship.
  7. What's the matter with you?
  8. I can’t help you.
  9. You don’t have to take your moods out on me — I’m getting so tired of this.

The truth is that bipolar disorder is a genetic medical illness — and it is treatable. Your loved one may cycle between being depressed with very little energy to being hyperactive or “manic.” This is all part of the illness and they can’t help it. It’s important that you be supportive, without nagging. It will also help you if you know what to expect and how to spot when your loved one is not doing well or has stopped taking their medication.

Not finding someone to love romantically is something your loved one may be concerned about, so be careful not to reinforce that idea, even in frustration, especially since it’s not true. “There are plenty of people with these illnesses that get married. It just means that they have to do their best to get the condition under control,” says Jeffrey Rakofsky, MD, a psychiatrist at the Emory University Bipolar Disorders Clinic in Atlanta. 

Bipolar Disorder: The Eight Best Things to Say 

What should you say to be supportive and help your loved one to do their best to manage the condition without being too pushy? Some of the best words of encouragement include:

  1. This is a medical illness and it is not your fault.
  2. I am here. We'll make it through this together.
  3. You and your life are important to me.
  4. You’re not alone.
  5. Tell me how I can help.
  6. I might not know how you feel, but I’m here to support you.
  7. Whenever you feel like giving up, tell yourself to hold on for another minute, hour, day — whatever you feel you can do.
  8. Your illness doesn't define who you are. You are still you, with hopes and dreams you can attain.

If your loved one has bi-polar disorder please do your research and try and learn as much as you can so that you can be as supportive as possible. Please keep in mind that even if the person wants to take meds and wants help, that is not an easy thing to do. Side effects of these meds can be embarrassing, painful, harmful, and just plain hard to handle. Please be patient and understanding.

If YOU think or know you have bi-polar, please seek medical help. This is not something you should try and treat yourself. It has been a long road and trying to get my meds just right is not only hard but scary. A majority of meds that are supposed to help me with depression actually made me worse, even suicidal. I am lucky that I have finally got my meds under control (for the most part) and that I have a loving spouse that looks out for mood changes when I do start or stop a new med. This is important that you have someone looking out for changes that you might not see yourself. So please don't be afraid to ask friends or family for help and with today's technology that person can be across the world.



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