To the Core


Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition with strong changes in mood and energy. 1.8% of adult Australians experience bipolar disorder each year.. Bipolar used to be known as 'manic depression'

While there is no known cure for bipolar disorder, the good news is that its severity and the frequency of episodes can be reduced or prevented with medication and other supports, such as psychological therapies, lifestyle choices and family support.

 

Best way I can describe living with the 'personal episodes' of Bipolar.

  • Centre range: the elusive constant

  • Thin blue line: everyday highs everyone has

  • Thin green line: everyday lows or sadness everyone has

  • Yellow line connects the extreme highs (mania) and the extreme lows (depression) during a cycle.

The highs can be exciting, invigorating and I achieve more than I ever thought possible, the lows are horrific, complete isolation, feelings of hopelessness and plagued with suicidal thoughts.

Every day for the past few years I've worked at what seems tirelessly to find 'my place' - it exists somewhere in the blue zone, it's where I've always lived before and I'm determined it will be again. I've come to the realisation that it's going to take a lot more work than I expected.

The hardest part was accepting this is an illness without a cure, without a specific treatment plan that would help me get better or recover fully, so I really just had to accept it was like my eye cancer, it appeared, I took the treatment available at the time to control it and that it can and sometimes does come back. I just have to make adjustments and allowances and do the bloody best I can.

I've had my little run with Cancer, I wasn't ashamed or embarassed about that, why should I or others be embarrassed or shamed because we have a Mental Illness.

Seriously we don't live in the dark ages anymore, I think the very word itself 'Mental' brings up too many images and perceptions because of it's misuse over the years, the word Mental, simply means relating to the mind.

 

Anyway, back to the image above:

  • Centre range: the elusive constant

  • Thin blue line: everyday highs everyone has

  • Thin green line: everyday lows or sadness everyone has

  • Yellow line connects the extreme highs (mania) and the extreme lows (depression) during a cycle.

Say a person (we'll use the word 'normal' ) becomes ill with depression, the drop may occur from the green zone, someone with bipolar can drop tumbling out of control from high in the blue zone, the depression with bipolar has been called different things in the past and is pretty horrific, but in a practical kind of sense the difference I feel from falling from the midway is like tripping over and twisting an ankle, when it's from the high zone it's like plummeting from somewhere out in space without a parachute and the stop doesn't come until you've been smashed through the earth's crust and had your arms and legs ripped off along the way through.

The trick i guess, is trying to bring the top down and the bottom up to narrow the cycling zone.

The battle is trying to get that sync right, work only on bringing the bottom up and it pushes you high all the time, work only on the highs and it drives you low into the depressive zone, that's what happened when I was diagnosed and given anti-depressants, it just kept me low and I couldn't come out.

Correct Diagnosis is so important, don't give up asking questions or searching for the right medication, if you need it, take it. But don't expect a magic fix.

 

This is a really basic explanation, there's plenty of medical and scientific notes around that you can research, I'm just here telling it how it feels and what it does without getting into the nitty gritty, we take things a little more head on during group visits and ToolBox Talks.

I'll no longer live with shame, guilt or accept the social misunderstandings brought upon us by STIGMA.

I wont live in silence and I'll keep working at being for others what I needed when I was alone, sick and isolated.

We need to keep supporting each other in life rather than mourning the loss of another bloke to Suicide.

 

Jump over and have a look at tracks4life, it's what I do to try and keep well, help others and raise awareness in the community for Suicide Prevention with Offroad Adventures and what I call, ToolBox Talks.

 

Learn more about Bipolar:

Bipolar I- involves the extreme mood elevation known as ‘mania’ or manic behaviour.

Bipolar II- involves the lesser mood elevation which is known as ‘hypomania’ and also includes bouts of depression. Bipolar I may or may not include episodes of depression, but bipolar II always does.

The changes in mood experienced by people with bipolar disorder are unlike the day-to-day changes in mood experienced by those who do not suffer from the illness.

The mood changes are much more extreme and can last from a few days to weeks.

They are not specifically caused by an external event, such as getting a good exam result – however stresses such as lack of sleep can become triggers of an episode of illness.

Helpful Resources:

Black Dog Institute

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/mental-health-wellbeing/bipolar-disorder

beyondblue

www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/bipolar-disorder

Reach Out

au.reachout.com/bipolar-disorder

 


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