Bipolar consists of mania and depression. Sometimes mania gets a pass because of perceived “benefits,” but ignoring your mania means you aren’t fully addressing your condition.
Do you really want to end your mood swings? I ask this question honestly. Many of us want to end depression. It’s a terrible, vicious and life-threatening experience for many of us. But, are you as committed to ending the mania that is an equal part of bipolar disorder?
I had to do an honest assessment of my desire to be healthy quite a few years ago when a particularly nasty euphoric manic episode left me in a dangerous situation. While I definitely did everything possible to manage the depression, I have to admit that I let the euphoric mania ride a bit because it felt so good. I chased euphoric mania and thought I could end the depression while letting the “good stuff’ stick around.
Eventually, I learned that euphoric mania is not good. It is not the “positive side” of bipolar disorder. I taught myself that it’s no different than depression. If I experience depression, I am sick with bipolar disorder. If I experience mania, I am sick with bipolar disorder.
Depression and mania are just two sides of the same bipolar coin—and both have to be managed equally if we want to find stability.
Over ten years ago, I created a no-mania aspect to my management plan. I realized that mania tricked me, lied to me, and kept me in an endless mania and depression loop.
Mania and depression are linked. They are not separate mood swings. When we are depressed, there is always the tinge of mania; and when we are manic, we can actually have a mood swing that is depression and mania combined called dysphoric mania (also known as mixed episodes).
If we really want to end the hold bipolar disorder has on our lives, we have to let go of mania. I can tell the truth—doing this in my life wasn’t easy. It affected my career and definitely affected my social life. But it also SAVED my life.
People often talk about the dangers of depression. I want us to talk openly and honestly about the dangers of mania. It has always been my most life-altering and destructive mood swing. I am glad it no longer takes over my life.
Are you ready to really manage both sides of bipolar disorder and find stability?
We can be free. We can work daily to end our bipolar disorder mood swings by managing depression and mania.
Julie A. Fast is the author of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder, Get It Done When You’re Depressed, and The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder. She is a columnist and blogger for bp Magazine, and she won the Mental Health America journalism award for the best mental health column in the US. Julie was also the recipient of the Eli Lilly Reintegration Achievement Award for her work in bipolar disorder advocacy. Julie is a bipolar disorder expert for ShareCare, a site created by Dr. Oz and Oprah. Julie is CEU certified and regularly trains health care professionals, including psychiatric residents, social workers, therapists, and general practitioners, on bipolar disorder management skills. She was the original consultant for Claire Danes for the show Homeland and is on the mental health expert registry for People magazine. She works as a coach for parents and partners of people with bipolar disorder. Julie is currently writing a book for children called "Hortensia and the Magical Brain: Poems for Kids with Bipolar, Anxiety, Psychosis, and Depression." You can find more about her work at JulieFast.com and BipolarHappens.com.
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