How often do people with bipolar have their ups and downs?

Is it everyday, every week? As a teacher, being a bit more prepared for when students with bipolar may have the manic part and the depressive part. How often are people with bipolar manic and depressive? Do people with bipolar stay manic or depressed a long time? Are they either manic or depressive all the time or are they neither for a period of time?

Everyone with bipolar experiences it a little differently. We all have manic and depressive episodes but the length and degree may vary. There are also times when you can be “normal”, neither manic or depressive. Sometimes it’s difficult to see that you’re in a normal state when you have become stable because you’re so used to going up only to come right back down and having very little time in between.

I have many friends who have rapid cycling bipolar symptoms. Sometimes they can be manic and depressive within the same day. I am not a rapid cycling person. My depressive states last at least a few weeks but most of the time months. It’s very difficult to function during those times although mania for me causes more issues than depression because I’m so impulsive. When I’m manic, it usually only lasts a few weeks. I used to be manic for several months before I became more stable.

Since my doctors were able to find the medication that works well for me and I am diligent about managing my illness though therapy techniques I have learned I have it quite easy compared to others that I know.  Once I became stable I have been lucky enough to live several weeks or months without a mania or depression. When it comes back I have to remember that I know it will leave. I’ve experienced being well and so I know that it is possible.

Children typically cycle much faster than adults and this could be one of the reasons it’s so difficult to diagnose in earlier years. I know that my cycles used to but much closer together the younger I was and have over time spaced out. One thing to look for in children however is that when they have an up or down it’s magnified. Their emotional high will be like a skyscraper and when they fall to a depressive state it will be just as dramatic as falling off that same skyscraper. One thing all people with bipolar have are our extreme emotions. There is no grey, only black and white. We have to be taught how to see the world in grey. Everyone who knew me well growing up informed me after I was diagnosed that they knew something wasn’t quite right. Emotionally I would go up and come down so violently. This didn’t happen constantly, but it was enough that it became noticeable even as a child.

One thing to remember is that as an instructor you cannot recommend a child get medical attention even if you feel it is necessary. A recommendation from you means that the school will be required to pay for it and you do not want to jeopardize your position. You can do one of two things:

1. Contact your principle. I would do this even if you are planning to do the second suggestion because principles always like to be kept in the loop.

2. Ask: “Have you ever considered … ?” If you pose your idea in a form of a question you are not recommending anything.

One thought on “How often do people with bipolar have their ups and downs?

  1. Good article, Jen. I just finished an article on varying degrees of bp episodes. My focus was on different levels of episodes – varying degrees! Slightly different approach – but same subject. I, too, am a classic BP 1 and am so thankful that I do not rapid cycle.

    Jan Pinkston

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