In my last blog post, I discussed some future plans I had for wanting to push my body of advocacy work to a new level. The type of feedback I received on that post could be neatly fit into two categories; encouragement and “are you manic?” On the first point, I appreciate the kind words and encouragement that many people gave me.
On the second point, I’m a Type 2 Bipolar. I don’t experience mania, I experience hypomania. I realize that most people use the two interchangeably, but they are different things. Mania requires psychosis. Hypomania does not. Technically, I’m not manic. Also technically, I’m not hypomanic either.
How do I know that? Doubt and self-doubt.
Understanding the way unwellness manifests gives us a great tool for identifying when Bipolar Disorder or Depression is trying to drive our thought processes. In my case, hypomania brings with it arrogance, impatience, and anger. The thought that I could be making a bad decision never crosses my mind because Bipolar Disorder just shoves my brain ahead at 1000 miles an hour without any consideration for consequences.
The ideas and thoughts I shared on pushing towards forming a venture of my own are not an overnight creation. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for the past two years, off and on. The list of doubts and cons is about the same length as the list of ideas and pros.
That is a good thing, because it heavily infers that I’m not now or have been escalated. A major decision like that is an almost guaranteed unwell cycle trigger. That doesn’t mean that I will or have triggered, it’s just that the potential is there. Anything that can bring major stress or incite passionate emotion should be counted as a potential trigger. That means increasing the amount of self-assessment that I would normally do to ensure that I pick up on any shift towards unwellness before it becomes a major problem.
Awareness gives me the power to unwind the unwell cycle before it really gets going. My methods of management are derived from personal reflection and strategy learned through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
These points are something that anyone can learn to be aware of. It may sound exhausting to need to think about mental state on a daily basis, but it really is the best way to keep a firm grasp on potential unwellness. Though it is kind of annoying at the start, regular practice and effort turned it into a thing that I just do without actively thinking about it.
That leads me to one of the more common misconceptions about Bipolar Disorder. Just because we’re not unwell at the moment does not mean that Bipolar Disorder is not lurking, waiting. An unwell cycle can trigger from anything and come out of nowhere.
The only way to head those unwell cycles off is to treat Bipolar Disorder like it is a companion that is always walking beside us: not behind us, not sitting at home on the couch, not as that thing in our past. Even when we’re medicated we need to keep a close eye on it to make sure it does not run ahead and away.
Even though my doubts have been strong, I view them as a good thing. Doubt means I’m sane and balanced. Doubt means I’m thinking critically of my choices. Doubt means I’m still in control of the Disorder, it is not in control of me.
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