If bipolar disorder is a coin, its two sides are depression and mania. And, if you want to lead a stable life where you’re able to work and have long lasting relationships, both sides have to be managed.
Bipolar disorder is a coin. It has two sides of equal weight and size. Think of it as two facets of one illness. There is the depression face of the coin and when you flip it over, the mania face of the coin.
If you want to manage bipolar disorder and lead a stable life where you’re able to work and have long lasting and loving relationships, both sides of the coin have to be managed.
It took me years to face this reality.
I want to travel the world. I want a fun and loving romantic relationship. I want to write books and help others find happiness in life. To do this, I simply have to be stable. Otherwise, I’m on the constant up and down of being ok for awhile, then getting SUPER OK, eventually morphing into a high energy nastiness and finally crashing and burning to the point that I can hardly get out of bed. This was my life for a long time.
This constant crash and burn takes up so much energy. There are too many apologies and worries in this chasing mania life. I decided a long time ago that stability was the goal. The answer was managing both sides of the coin equally. It meant spending as much time managing and preventing mania as I did preventing and managing the depression.
We all love euphoric mania. Who wouldn’t? It FEELS amazing. For many, the love of this euphoric mania is stronger than the desire for stability. Here’s the truth. The love and encouragement of euphoric mania opens the door for the truly awful side of the coin that represents depression. We don’t get to live in mania without risking the other side of the coin. That is why it’s call BI polar. Mania lies in the same way depressions lies. It’s all illness and none of it is sustainable.
There is no depression management without mania management. There is no end to anxiety and psychosis without mania management. There is no good parenting, reaching our dreams of living a long and healthy life without mania management.
If you’re new to the diagnosis or your loved one is newly diagnosed, the sooner this reality is faced, the better the outcome for the future. I’m no different than you. As you read this blog, I know what you’re thinking. I know what you’re feeling. None of this is easy. Depression is so horrific, it’s natural to want the feelings of euphoric mania. I despise depression. It’s dangerous. It’s so desperately awful that it still makes me think that euphoric mania is the answer.
Maybe I can just live in that mood swing! Just keep the euphoria going on a mild buzz for the rest of my life! Oh, it would be so good!
But it’s not possible. It’s simply not possible. There is no way to just live in mild euphoric mania. There is no one sided coin. The over the top beautiful feelings of euphoric mania are NOT what the people around us experience. The burning creativity and hyper sexuality eventually wear out the people around us. That’s why the majority of people in euphoric mania seek out new people to party with. The real people in our lives can’t tolerate our rapid speech, partying, and over the top ‘I am a GODDESS’ mood.
Decide today what you want. Mania or stability? Mania or financial stability? Mania or long lasting relationships? Mania or reality?
My decision came ten years ago. I decided to stop chasing euphoric mania. Since that time, I treat mania as soon as it shows up. I know the signs it’s trying to take over my brain and I say NO. This keeps me more stable than in the past. This has almost ended the horrible crashes that used to rule my life.
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 won the Mental Health America journalism award for the best mental health column in the US. Julie was also the recipient of the Eli Lily Reintegration award for her work in bipolar disorder advocacy. Julie is a bipolar disorder expert for the Dr.Oz and Oprah created site ShareCare. 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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