How did you realize that you had bipolar disease and how can someone realize it or test for it?

How did you realize that you had bipolar disease and how can someone realize it or test for it?

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When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was in the middle of a mixed episode. I was all over the map with my feelings and actions, so I didn’t really have a clue what was going on with me. I knew I had anxiety and depression, but nothing past that. I didn’t really know what bipolar was, truthfully…

I wasn’t even remotely in touch with myself to know what I felt about things. I was constantly fighting my own emotions and gut instincts. It became so severe that I went to the hospital willingly — I knew I needed help.

ice cubesBut before that, bipolar was mentioned in reference to me. My mom told one of her friends, a nurse, about a weird episode I’d had at work. The only thing I remember about it is that I was hyper-aware of the ice making noise. I was a server and I could hear ice everywhere.

From the people drinking in the dining room to the other servers scooping it into glasses … it just overtook me. I pretty much froze for a while and I do remember having Xanax with me so I took that and I calmed down.

People with bipolar disorder are a lot more sensitive to everything. It’s not just emotions, but sounds, textures (I can tell when I’m getting depressed b/c a shirt isn’t soft enough to put on, or, while folding the laundry, the jeans bother me because the fabric is rougher), anything to do with senses — we’re more aware.

Once I was diagnosed, it made complete sense to me, going back over my life. But other than that one thing which had to be brought to my attention, I didn’t ever think “bipolar.”

Unfortunately, I know that’s not much help, but I do know a lot about bipolar disorder now and can help with symptoms. We can’t diagnose you or anyone else, nor can you self-diagnose, but the fact that you wrote us shows that you know how you’re feeling and have done some research … and you are thinking “bipolar.”

You can’t really be tested, per se, for bipolar disorder, but if you’ve experienced a lot of the main symptoms, you should definitely go see somebody to find out what’s going on. Medicines and therapy make a huge difference, once they start to take effect.

Looking back, if I’d been more in touch and honest with myself (for different reasons, I felt I had to be a certain way, so anything that didn’t fit that profile/persona got hidden), I would have known I needed to see someone.

I went through periods of staying home all the time, not wanting to see my friends or even talk to them on the phone. At one point in high school, I went to the movies with my parents on a weekend night (the horror and embarrassment! lol …but I didn’t care). That was the only way to get me out of the house.

But then other times, I was always wanting to plan things to do, going from one friend’s house to another’s and then going home and getting on the phone to talk or make more plans. Constantly DoingDoingDoing…

girl lying on floor in dress with money and boozeThese episodes were off and on, and with the “ups” (the manic/hypomanic phases) came irritability, racing thoughts, more activity, and less sleep. I would come up with great ideas and plans and thought I could do anything. My otherwise low self-esteem became high and, as I got older and had no supervision, I engaged in risky activities. I felt super-human. But, it would always come crashing down at some point.

a girl curled up in a ball in bedAnd when I was “down” (depressed), I was way down. Curled up in bed, only getting out when I had to go to work (at least I was smart enough to know things would get worse if I couldn’t pay the rent). Personally, I have this thing where I watch Girl, Interrupted. Kind of like how I always watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when I was home from school. I absorbed myself in my sadness and it just kept feeding on itself until it would get to the point where something had to give.

But I also had a lot of normal, or neutral, times in between the ups and downs. So that would be a good chunk of time where I could see my behavior and be like, “That was just a phase. I was being dumb. I’ll never act like that again.” Yet there I’d be, weeks or months later, acting the same and unable to control any of it.

Your mind can always rationalize what’s going on, but if you really think you’re dealing with anything like bipolar disorder, make sure to see someone because it can end up being dangerous, even during manic/hypomanic times. In fact, for me, those are the times that are the scariest, looking back. Because of the stupid things I’d do, I’m lucky nothing really horrible happened to me or someone else.

Basic symptoms can be found HERE, or by doing a simple search for “bipolar symptoms.” At the top of our page, the tabs ‘About Bipolar,’ ‘FAQs,’ and ‘Helpful Links‘ can lead you to a wealth of information, as well as our ‘Videos‘ tag.

4 thoughts on “How did you realize that you had bipolar disease and how can someone realize it or test for it?

  1. I was forty when anyone figured out what was wrong with me. After the intial shock, there was a whole lot of relief. My life made sense. Even why anti-depressants made me even crazier, there was a reason for it all. I’m still working through a lot because interestingly if you take care of the big symptons there are quite a few small creepy symptons running around. But finding out and knowing made this massive impact in my life.

  2. Great Post! My son who is 10 has talked about the sounds of paper moving or pencils in the class during an exam being so loud almost alien like, then he’s overcome with fear. It must be the sensitivity you’re talking about with the ice.

  3. Exactly! After the first diagnosis, my mom said she was surprised to see me so happy at the hospital. I just sat down and smiled, and then said, “I’m bipolar!” Of course that was *a little* odd to her, to say the least.
    And then recently, my b/f mentioned that when I was on the phone with my mom (he was in the same room doing something else, but could still hear, obviously) that I sounded so upbeat talking about my re-diagnosis.
    I told them both … it wasn’t the fact that I’m bipolar that made me happy — it was that i FINALLY had an answer. And with that, I could start dealing and make a better life for myself. It also helped to know I wasn’t alone. Not that I would want anyone else to have to deal with this, but it’s like any other disease … and there are support groups and such available.
    I was at a stage where I just couldn’t deal with life anymore (I had been put on an anti-depressant … leading to hypo and then a mixed state), but then suddenly the clouds started to part.
    That’s what I’m grateful for 🙂

    Oh, and I completely agree. The more you weed out and *take care of* … the more you find underneath. But I know I can deal with all of those issues if I can tackle the big ones.

    Thanks for reading and good luck to you!!

    -Amy

  4. Thanks 🙂

    Yeah, I’ve heard that a lot of people have sensitivities … and some are pretty severe. I don’t know what it is about it but yeah, I remember freezing — like I just didn’t know what to do or what was going to happen next.
    Sensations still bother me, but I’ve never had an episode quite that bad ever again.

    What does your son do to deal at those times? Just curious…

    -Amy

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