It's the most severe form of Bipolar Disorder. This is my story and it has a happy ending.
Hello and welcome to The Bipolar OG.
Today I’m going to be talking about a difficult form of bipolar disorder, and that is rapid cycling, mixed state, which is the one I have. Before we begin, I'd just like to mention that for many years now, thanks to medication and therapy, I’ve been stable, so the symptoms I'm about to share with you are what I would experience without treatment and what I did experience prior to treatment, so let's just dive right in.
Having bipolar disorder is bad enough, but piling on a bunch of stuff on top of that is even worse and honestly the only way I've been able to survive throughout my life is having a sense of humor thrown in. It’s really helped me and so today if you hear some odd humor – well, that's just the way I've kind of dealt with things but in no way is it meant to make light of this illness at all.
Anyway, so talking about piling a bunch of things on, that's how it is - you pile a bunch of things on something that's already unstable - and for me it is like being trapped inside of my own mind and body. It's a feeling of complete loss of control. It's feeling helpless and hopeless, and becoming so agitated that I want to peel my skin off. Some mornings waking up and not being able to move out of my bed and feeling such intense sadness and then a few hours later my mood quickly shifts and suddenly an intense burst of energy and I'd start attempting several projects at once, but I get so distracted I can't finish any.
This makes me extremely frustrated, and I get short fused with myself and anyone around me. During my mixed episodes you would think that I would have a depressed state and typically a manic state, right? Well that's what that's what I would think. My depressed side of the pole is emotional over reactivity - no regulation of emotion, intense crying and sometimes a hysteria that can be so bad that I black out. My manic side, on the other hand, used to be less destructive. More of your typical mania, but now I only experience an agitated state and during that time I am constantly in a hyper vigilance waiting for something to happen. I'm extremely sensitive to noises and things that wouldn't bother me at all normally, like a child crying - suddenly sounds like it's been playing from a speaker into my ear. I also have a startle reflex that is crazy embarrassing!
Mixed state episodes, and especially when they're rapid firing rapid cycling just give me a sense of complete sensory overload. I’m serious! It makes me feel like the highs and lows are just flooding in at the same time and I feel like my brain is kind of going through a “Belushi Cocktail” of some kind and you know I almost feel these sparks going off… snapping and popping.
I almost feel like one of those “Fembots” , remember, in the “Austin Powers” movie? I feel like my heads gonna explode! That might be an exaggeration, but seriously, it's a really ugly, awful feeling and that is when you feel like you want to crawl out of your skin. It's just a terrible feeling, and I know there's somebody out there - lots of you out there, who know what exactly what I mean.
Mixed episodes are also a dangerous time for me because being so unpredictable and mentally exhausted anything can happen, and it's a time when I'm the most prone to hurting myself and having suicidal thoughts. But there's even more incentive for me to want to avoid mania. My mania, which started out as, you know, the fuzzy fun euphoric kind, evolved into a far darker version during my mixed episodes because it led to psychotic breaks and for the past 12 years I have had what are called psychotic features added to my bipolar one diagnosis.
Now in my opinion, psychotic features sound much scarier than they should. You know I kind of think people you know have an idea of psychotic or psychosis and psychotic features of people running around foaming at the mouth and it's not all that scary trust me. I can manage mine on very little medication, I'm high functioning, and though I did have some kind of creepy psychotic breaks at the beginning, I now have mostly just distorted thoughts and delusions and they are called mood congruent features or delusions - which I'll cover in depth in another show - but basically that means that my delusions, or let's just call them mixed up thoughts, follow whatever mood I am having or am in, at that time.
So, if I'm up, or in a hyper or manic state, they're going to follow that. If I'm low, they're going to follow that, so for the most part my thoughts you know go with what I'm feeling.
Anyway, if I didn't take a medication when I felt those thoughts creeping in, mania might be there or psychosis and there's a good chance I would receive some message… hello, you know not kidding or thought not a voice, such as a person might have who has schizophrenia, it's more of a suggestion, that’s given during a psychotic break during mania. It's or it's telling me something negative in my mind and a very dark thought about myself over and over and over in a loop thing like you're terrible at your embarrassment why don't you go ahead and kill yourself no one would even notice you were gone that sort of thing talk about brainwashing 126.96.36.199. Yeah!
Living life with bipolar disorder has been about living life at the most extreme physical and mental endurance possible and going places that most people couldn't imagine. It's about accepting and coming to terms with the fact that major limitations are placed on you for the rest of your life, and learning to be happy with shorter periods of time, and definitely with fewer friends! There were many days when it was definitely a struggle to keep fighting to stay alive, but for reasons unknown to me still, I somehow made it through several suicide attempts, and someone didn't think it was my time to go, and I'm so grateful because I never thought I'd be here today but I'm stable and though I’ll always have my illness, it's manageable, and I don't experience rapid cycling or mixed state!
So always remember that there is hope, and even the most severe form of bipolar disorder, even at its most advanced stages, as was my case, from previously treatment noncompliant individuals, like I was, can gain stability and find happiness,
Thank you all for joining me, and I'll see you again next time.