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Breaking the Stigma: How It Looks Like When People Suffer from Bipolar Disorders

A sudden feeling of extreme happiness over an achievement, followed by feelings of anxiety over the possibility of not being good enough.

Sudden persistent feeling of someone interested in your job and the possibility of having it being taken away from you.

A sudden feeling of exhilaration because of a business idea followed by feelings of worthlessness and despair over an episode of failure.

This is just a peek at the usual whirlwind of emotions that people with bipolar disorder are struggling to deal with. This is not meant to stereotype these people and try to fit them into a box, however, this is the harsh reality of a constant struggle that bipolar people are faced with – and should be understood about.

We all have our ups and downs. We all experience triumph and defeat. However, for a person with bipolar disorder, these ups and downs are way severe. It can cost you your career, your relationships, and your financial stability.

The cycle goes on for days, weeks, and months until a family member or a loved one notices significant changes in the person’s behavior deemed just enough to seek help. It is no longer about intense mood swings when the changes are enough to cost one’s career and relationships. During a manic episode, one could thoughtlessly quit his job, go on a shopping spree and pile up huge debts. A depressive episode may result in sleeping more than usual, hesitancy to get up from bed and be productive self-loathing, and hopelessness. Worst-case scenarios include suicide and suicide attempts during a depressive episode.

The sad thing about bipolar disorders is that they are often overlooked and misdiagnosed. Often the result of heredity, bipolar disorders either make or break a person. People with bipolar disorders are often hesitant to admit that they have a problem, which results in a negative feedback mechanism between the patient and his or her healthcare provider. What makes matters worse is that the more one delays treatment, the more the condition worsens. Self-awareness is very crucial in a person with bipolar disorder. It helps the patient recognize symptoms early on, and hence seek help as soon as possible. Furthermore, it helps the patient accept the condition and take the necessary measures to avoid becoming symptomatic.

The life of a person with bipolar disorder is not easy, but yes, they can still lead normal lives. The trio of getting the right treatment, practicing healthy coping skills, and getting support from your loved ones is a tried and tested way to avoid complications. Although the patient swings back and forth from manic episodes and depression, most patients experience depression more than they experience mania.

How do we extend a helping hand towards people with bipolar disorder?

  • Active listening goes a long way.

Bipolar people want to be understood and heard. Having a patient or loved one share his or her stories with you will help them rise up and forget their being different. The more motivated they are with life, the more compliant they will be with regard to their maintenance medications.

  • Unlimited patience, love, and understanding.

Time and time again you need to reaffirm your support through giving endless patience and understanding. Often, people with the disorder are reluctant to seek help because they do not want to become a burden to the people around them. Thus, the need to be vocal and demonstrative with your care and support.

  • Learn more about bipolar disorder.

Educate yourself. You need to distinguish between moods, when is the mood authentic or when is it used to manipulate you. If you learn more about bipolar disorder, you will be more equipped on how to handle those suffering from it. You get to learn to keep things in perspective.

  • If the person is still undiagnosed, encourage him or her to get help.

This is perhaps the most difficult but the most important. It needs a bigger degree of trust from the patient to the caregiver for the patient to open up. Thus, the caregiver should be able to gain that trust so he can directly suggest getting help.

How about you, how can you help those in your life, who suffer from bipolar disorder?

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