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Seeing Through a Bipolar Lens

Reviewed by Aaron Horn, LMFT · December 07, 2020 ·

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that many people have issues with. As of the time of writing, it is said that approximately 2.8% of the American population has bipolar disorder. It’s also worth noting that this condition more or less impacts the lives of men and women at the same rate. You likely know quite a bit about bipolar disorder due to how common it is and how much people talk about it. However, there are many misconceptions about bipolar disorder that cause people to have a hard time seeing those who have the right light condition.

Trying to see things through the eyes of those who have bipolar disorder will give you a better understanding of what they’re going through. This article is going to give you a chance to examine bipolar disorder more closely. You’ll be able to think about how people who have bipolar disorder feel and what it’s like to live with the condition. If you have someone in your life who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, then this might help you to understand them a bit better. It’s always worthwhile to educate yourself instead of just understanding bipolar disorder at a very basic or stereotypical level.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a condition defined as someone going through periods of depression and periods of mania. Depressive periods are when patients feel really down and depressed about life. Mania is a period where a person feels unusually upbeat, and they might feel like they have boundless energy. The low periods of depression are a stark contrast to this, and they make people feel like they can’t do anything at all in many situations. When someone has bipolar disorder, it’s often going to cause them to go back and forth between periods of depression and mania.

This can be very tough for a person to cope with, and trying to live with bipolar disorder can be problematic. When you’re feeling down, and in a depressed state, it’s going to be tough to find the energy to get out of bed in the morning. Many people who experience bipolar depression have difficulty accomplishing things when they’re in a depressed state. Some aren’t able to effectively cope with depression, which might cause them to be unable to work or handle other life responsibilities.

Conversely, people can feel like they’re able to do anything during manic episodes. You might feel much more confident than usual when you’re in a manic period, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Manic periods can indeed help people get things done, but people often overestimate their abilities when they have a manic episode. Mania can cause people with bipolar disorder to make bad decisions because they feel like they’re on top of the world and like they’re completely invincible. Of course, they aren’t actually invincible, and bad decisions made during manic episodes will have consequences.

Not everyone who experiences manic episodes will make extremely rash decisions, but many people have problems thinking straight during those times. You might notice that your thoughts will start racing while you’re in a period of mania. Those with bipolar disorder might become easily distracted during manic episodes, which can cause them to leave certain things unfinished. These periods of highs and lows can be very taxing both for the person who has bipolar disorder and for their loved ones. Everyone experiences things a bit differently, though.

For example, some people who have bipolar disorder will experience more depressive symptoms than they will manic symptoms. Some people go through long periods of depression with only short bursts of mania. Others will experience more manic episodes than they do depressive episodes. You’ll also find that some patients with bipolar disorder will have more rapid shifts than others. Some change between manic and depressive periods faster than normal, but a lot of what a patient will experience depends on various factors. For instance, the type of bipolar disorder that you have been diagnosed with can play a role.

Bipolar Disorder And Interacting With Others

Many people who have loved ones with bipolar disorder wind up having a tough time interacting with them. If you have someone in your family who has bipolar disorder, then you might know how easy it is for things to go sideways. Bipolar disorder does involve mood swings, and this means that some people with bipolar disorder will lash out at their loved ones due to the mental anguish that they’re experiencing. Situations like this can be mitigated with medication, but it can still be tough for patients with bipolar disorder to interact with others sometimes.

Family members and close friends might be the ones who come into conflict with people who have bipolar disorder most often. This is often because you have their best interests in mind, but that doesn’t mean that the patient will always see it that way. You could be trying to help guide your loved one to make good decisions during a manic episode, and your loved one might respond negatively to you. This can lead to arguments, hurt feelings, and general turmoil in your household. However, it’s important to remember that someone who has bipolar disorder isn’t always going to be able to think straight.

There are times when someone will be depressed and will say things that seem hurtful or terrible. This can happen during manic episodes as well, and this is occurring because the patient cannot think clearly. When your loved ones feel more normal, they will be less likely to have negative interactions like this with you. But fights over little things or issues within the home can become more problematic during manic episodes and depressive episodes. If you can try to look at things from your loved one’s perspective, it might help you avoid taking things too personally.

This doesn’t mean that someone with bipolar disorder isn’t responsible for their actions, but it does mean that you have to take the bipolar disorder condition into account. When someone isn’t able to think straight due to feeling depressed or being in the middle of a manic episode, it’s going to be hard for them to take the time to assess your feelings. They can barely process things that they’re feeling in the moment due to how tough it is to deal with bipolar disorder symptoms. Supporting someone who has bipolar disorder can be very tough, but it’s good for you to be there for the people you love.

Helping People With Bipolar Disorder

Helping people with bipolar disorder is going to involve being there as a part of their support system. Understand that bipolar disorder doesn’t mean that someone is spiteful or mean for no reason. It doesn’t mean that they have multiple personalities or that they’re a time bomb waiting to go off. Having bipolar disorder is a mental health issue that makes it tough for people to cope with depression and mania. It can make it difficult for individuals to think straight, and they often need people that care about them to provide a bit of assistance.

One of the best things you can do for someone who has bipolar disorder is to encourage them to see the doctor. Those with bipolar depression need to be diagnosed properly. Sometimes taking something like a depression test can help because it gives people a good idea of why they might need to see a doctor. Tests like this aren’t a diagnostic tool in and of themselves, but they can help people agree to make appointments with their doctors. Getting treatment will make it much easier to manage bipolar disorder effectively.

Many people with bipolar disorder learn to live with the condition much easier by finding the right mix of medications. Some of those with bipolar disorder might need to take medications such as antidepressants, and others might even take anti-anxiety medications depending on what they’re experiencing. You can work with a doctor to determine the right path to move forward based on the situation. It’s also true that therapy is often used to help people cope with bipolar disorder, and it can make managing aspects of the condition much better.

If you’re able to try to see things from the perspective of people with bipolar disorder, then it becomes simpler to support them. You shouldn’t think of those with bipolar disorder as just mean people or low-energy individuals. They’re just people dealing with a tough diagnosis and trying to learn how to cope the best they can. Being a supportive presence in someone’s life can really make a difference, and it’s good for you to be there for your loved ones. Whether your spouse has bipolar disorder or if you just need to be there for a family member or friend, your actions can help them out.

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