I decided to highlight some differences I have personally seen in bipolar disorder episodes…
In a depressed state, making any decisions (even simple, everyday decisions) feels like such a struggle. I can be seen standing in front of the poultry section of the grocery store for 10 minutes just staring… it seems overwhelming, having to make a selection. I’d rather just stay home, minimizing the amount of times a day I have to make a decision.
In a manic state, every option seems great. Instead of not been drawn to any decision, I am drawn to ALL the available options. Everything seems full of possibilities! I want it ALL.
Severe depression does more than simply make it a little more difficult to think clearly. It is extremely disabling. Depression feels as if it is eating away at my brain matter- it feels like my brain has extensive damage. It can take such a long time to even form a clear response in my head. My brain feels empty, incapable of working.
In mania, it is like the ability to form thoughts is on overdrive. In fact, it can be so overwhelmingly fast, that sometimes I cannot even blurt out all of the thoughts that are racing around in my head. My mind feels crowded- there are so many different tracks of thoughts going on at once. I can try to focus on one track, but am quickly distracted by another track, jumping from idea to idea (“flight of ideas”) which may appear random to others but completely related logically to myself.
During depression, this is not at a normal level. Instead, it is at an irrationally, self-destructive low. You hate yourself. You think everyone should hate you. You feel worthless. You think you are a failure in every form.
In mania, self-esteem or confidence is also abnormal, but to the other extreme. It may be unrealistically high. This can sound like a great thing (Can you BE too confident?), but it is not. You might think you can be the next Steve Jobs, even though you don’t know a thing about computers. You create unrealistic goals and expectations, all of which can lead to poor decisions… and not a nice mess to clean up once the mania crashes.
What are some changes you have noticed yourself with bipolar disorder? Let me know!