Originally published on Quora: https://www.quora.com/How-dangerous-is-Bipolar-Disorder/answer/April-Hunter-17
Bipolar Disorder is extraordinarily dangerous. And even more misunderstood. It’s not just ups and downs in moods casually compared to weather changes.
Even on the magic mix of stabilizing medications, I still have swings and perceive things differently.
Thankfully, the meds allow me to question my own mind and be patient before having knee-jerk reactions. I can respond, not react. But I do automatically go to dark places and worst case scenario.
It is a daily struggle…often a battle…with my own mind. Just to function requires making a conscious choice about everything. Energy, diet, who I am around, shutting off news channels, removing negative feeds from my social media, daily exercise whether I feel like it or not, the colors of my home (calming shades)… And much more. Even with all these things, there can be issues. I work for myself. I don’t think I could work for anyone else and conform to those hours. Some days I can’t work at all. The side effects from the medications suck. They’re horrible. And, they’ve created a form of ADHD that is incredibly difficult to manage and I cannot take anything for it because it will throw me manic. Spoon Theory is a real thing. Google it.
Most people don’t understand this, but bipolar disorder also comes with a host of other physical issues, usually cardiovascular-related. The chemicals that are out of whack in us often cause lung and heart issues or autoimmune diseases such as lupus. Even if we don’t kill ourselves, we tend to die much younger due to side effects of bipolar disorder such as bronchitis, pneumonia, heart problems, etc.
About half of us have had suicide attempts, successful or not. I’m pretty sure 100% of us have considered it. Because no matter where you go or what you do, you are still bipolar. It affects every single aspect of your life…everything you do. Every relationship, your work/career, even sleeping, as rapid, pinging thoughts can be difficult to shut off.
There is no cure and the medications can be brutally expensive. The therapy is costly, and no one seems interested in fixing these defects in our health system, so this could be one reason why so many go off their meds. Being stabilized and healthy is very expensive. America seems more interested in profiting than helping when it comes to mental illness.
It is also dangerous for the people around us because we can be tough to live with. I think one of the absolute worst things about bipolar disorder is how people say they are okay with it until they see it. And then they aren’t. They don’t get educated about it and they don’t really understand that it’s the disease, not the person.
It can make us feel incredibly isolated, misunderstood, frustrated, and rejected.
I don’t really think anyone with bipolar disorder wants to die. We just don’t want to live like this any longer. We don’t want to inflict pain on others or deal with the mindfuckery. Sometimes the best way to save yourself and save the people around you seems to be to end it. “Normal” people mostly cannot understand this.
It’s a really weird thing when you can’t trust your own mind. When you can’t tell what’s real and what’s not…when you are trying to perceive what someone means or your feelings – and you’re well aware that you’re bipolar and that you could be taking everything the wrong way. It’s confusing. It can make you distrust…not just yourself, but others.
However, I can say from personal experience that the medications changed my life for the better – probably saved me – and oddly enough, every time I think about dying it makes me appreciate living. So here I am.
One of the beautiful things about having bipolar disorder is seeing life in vibrant colors most can’t visualize. We are also an intelligent, artsy group of people. The same chemicals that mess us up are the very same chemicals that make us incredibly creative and quick-thinking.
Here’s another odd fact: people with mental disorders are far more likely to be in full time, loving relationships than those without mental disorders. The truth is, no matter what they SAY, people like crazy. 😉
If you or someone you love has bipolar disorder, I think the trick is to harness those creative talents, find a way to be as self-employed as possible, chose healthy lifestyle options, stay away from negative stuff (it can really have a bad impact on people like us), and life can be very good.
And here’s the weirdest thing of all…I often ask myself this question: If I could take it away and be normal, would I? The answer is always a resounding “no.” As difficult and punishing as this disorder is, it has also allowed me to live a very unique, ballsy, brave life that most need copious amounts of alcohol to even attempt. I’ve followed my dreams instead of settling for a paycheck. I see the world in high def. I’m not afraid to live outside the social norms and color outside the lines.
For that, I’m eternally grateful to this uniquely heavy genetic disease that I wouldn’t wish on anyone and wouldn’t take a chance on passing on by having children.
And only someone who is bipolar can understand that statement.
April K. Hunter is an author and freelance content creator. She has her B.F.A. in Creative Writing for Entertainment and her work appears in a variety of publications, including RxMuscle, Page & Spine, Medium, and European Journal FONT. Her first book, UNDISCLOSED DARKNESS can be found on Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.
A model and pro wrestler, she’s currently a part-time superhero at geek conventions, Mother of Chickens and owned by one spoiled rotten corgi. When not crafting stories, she is learning something new each day or scouring the internet for funny memes while drinking too much coffee.