In this second of six, Tabitha Clark shares her story of living with Bipolar Affective Disorder. Read on to gain a snapshot – and some insight…
My journey with bipolar began at age 12. I am now 28 years old. I have recently discovered I have Bipolar II, I also have borderline personality disorder and anxiety disorders. My other disorders tend to cause my symptoms to be more severe, but present none the less.
Bipolar I and II
With Bipolar II, I do not experience extreme highs like Bipolar I. Instead, I experience hypomania. The best way for me to describe this, is as close to “normal” as I get. I experience frequent lows, some lower than others.
A low period, for me, can be downright devastating. It can be difficult for me to get out of bed, do my housework, interact with those closest to me, even eating becomes unimportant. I hurt all over physically during these times. I have muscle aches and cramps, backaches, headaches, it is often hard to find a comfortable position to sit.
It is difficult to focus on any one thing, I often do not accomplish much of anything sometimes for a couple weeks at a time. Typically all I want to do is sleep during these times though I can’t as I still have a child yet to go to school.
I usually have little or no energy during these lows and what energy I get is usually spent on keeping up on necessary housework. I have crying spells, I will just begin to cry for no apparent reason. I have been known to cry for hours at a time after being “set off” by something as simple as a television commercial.
I am very easily overwhelmed whether I am in a low period or not – which seems to cause unneeded stress. Long periods of stress will trigger a low period for me, the longer the stress the more serious the depressive phase will be. The length of time my depressive periods last depends on how low I am, the lower I am the harder it is to pull out of it.
My bipolar has caused me problems in the past. For instance, I have lost custody of my oldest two daughters due to erratic, unstable behaviour, I have lost or quit jobs because of my instability and anxieties. I have been estranged from close family for more than six months at a time.
I have finally gotten to a place of acceptance in my journey where I accept responsibility for my actions, and and I am actively trying to control what causes those behaviours. I still have been known to back out of plans at the last minute, because I am not in the mood, or I do not want to deal with people. Ridiculous reasons but I do it.
Positivity in Hypomania
My hypomania is much easier to deal with, in that I feel better. I do not feel like superwoman by any means, but I feel capable. I feel up to doing what needs to be done; I am able to stay focused and on task.
I feel as though my life is in order and there is finally balance. It is still difficult because with my other disorders I am still often easily overwhelmed and easily irritated by simple things. I take it much better during these times as I feel more put together and the world makes more sense. My periods of frustration do not seem to be as extreme or as long during these times.
Bipolar is a challenge but you can find a way to cope. I personally find exercise, reading my Bible and writing regularly in my journal really helpful. Ultimately, don’t give up!
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of Conscious Living by Design™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to clients in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).