“Before I was diagnosed by my former psychiatrist, I experienced intense mood swings and, retrospectively, extreme overreactions to everyday situations. I would swing from deeply insecure to super confident, and I had thoughts of suicide and worthlessness coupled with bouts of creativity. My symptoms now aren’t much different really, but I’m older now so I know how to recognize when I’m having a swing and can attempt to not give into it. I still experience insanely low lows that last for a couple weeks at a time. The suicidal thoughts that come when I’m down are really tough. Even though I can recognize them as temporary because of my experience with bipolar, it doesn’t change that those thoughts are deeply unsettling. For me, the highs are much more infrequent”. – Danielle, 29
Understanding bipolar affective disorder
Bipolar disorder is generally misunderstood as a disorder of rapidly alternating moods that cycle between deep sadness to extraordinary elation. However, this common mood disorder is much more complicated than the assumed emotional labile rollercoaster that our society believes. 2.5 million American adults are believed to be living with either bipolar I or II disorder. This number does not include the ones who haven’t been properly diagnosed, a significant issue that is deeply tied to misinformation about symptoms.
The uphill battle of bipolar disorder
Living with bipolar disorder can be difficult. Manic and depressive symptoms can creep up and cause individuals to overspend, say hurtful words to people they care about, engage in reckless behavior, use alcohol and drugs as a way to cope, and experience heightened and uncontrollable emotions. Often, bipolar disorder is challenging to diagnose and may be misdiagnosed as ADHD or another mental health disorder such as OCD or anxiety. As a result, the lag time between symptoms and diagnosis can be unbearable for many individuals. It is essential to remove the stigma associated with bipolar disorder by spreading awareness and providing more access to treatment services. Bipolar disorder does have the potential to be an uphill battle, and there are extreme consequences if individuals are unable to control their symptoms with medication, therapy, and coping skills. Many individuals have been properly diagnosed with bipolar disorder but are too terrified to share their stories. As a result, they live in isolation and fear. Bipolar can be a heavy burden if you allow it to be, or it can be a treatable disorder that anyone can live with, given that they use the right tools and coping skills accordingly.
Living a full life with bipolar affective disorder
It is common to live a happy life with a successful career, a loving family, and a flourishing social life while simultaneously having bipolar disorder. It is your choice whether you divulge to others about your mental illness, but it is essential to have a support system you can lean on during trying times. Living a fulfilling life with bipolar disorder is manageable with the right medication and treatment team. Psychotherapy includes cognitive behavior therapy, which allows individuals to adopt positive coping skills to deal with manic and depressive episodes instead of turning to drugs or alcohol or letting these symptoms dominate all aspects of one’s life. It is possible to control your emotions, deal with the highs and lows, curb the uncontrollable urges to excessively spend money, and to be able to engage appropriately with others. There may still be difficult days, and sometimes it may take a while to figure out the best dosage and combination of medications, but within time signs and symptoms associated with bipolar disorder are, in fact, manageable.
AKUA Mind & Body treatment
AKUA Mind & Body is a full-service treatment program that offers a wide range of “east meets west” treatment modalities for many different populations struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. AKUA makes your recovery a priority. AKUA Mind & Body treats co-occurring disorders and works diligently with each client and their family to ensure that treatment is specifically tailored to their needs, and not just their disorder.
AKUA Mind & Body offers detoxification, intensive treatment programs, and virtual outpatient treatment programs. AKUA Mind & Body uses a blend of holistic approaches combined with evidence-based treatment to help individuals who have been affected by substance use and mental health disorders to recognize their underlying triggers and develop healthy coping skills. Regardless of where you are in your recovery process, AKUA Mind & Body can help.