The emerging blogger series is aimed at community building through giving mental health bloggers who are early in their blogging evolution the opportunity to have their work seen by a wider audience. It’s also a way to introduce you as a reader to some newer members of our community.
This week, we have two emerging blogger posts; this one is by Elizabeth from Smiling Through Tears.
Living with Bipolar II Disorder
Today’s blog is focused on bipolar II disorder and how if has affected my life. From as far back as I can remember I have always felt different from others and I believe we can all learn from each other. To start off I thought it would be useful to define what bipolar II disorder is, what the signs and symptoms are and what treatments are available.
Bipolar II Disorder
Bipolar II disorder is defined by a pattern of depressive and hypomanic episodes. In bipolar II disorder, the “up” moods never reach full-blown mania. The less-intense elevated moods in bipolar II disorder are called hypomanic episodes, or hypomania. Most people with bipolar II disorder suffer more often from episodes of depression. This is where the term “manic depression” comes from. The vast majority of people with bipolar II disorder experience more time with depressive than hypomanic symptoms. Some people cycle back and forth between hypomania and depression, while others have long periods of normal mood in between episodes.
Signs and Symptoms
People with bipolar disorder experience periods of unusually intense emotion, changes in sleep patterns and activity levels, and unusual behaviors. Extreme changes in energy, activity, and sleep go along with mood episodes. Sometimes a mood episode includes symptoms of both manic and depressive symptoms.
Treatments and Therapies
An effective treatment plan usually includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”). Long-term, continuous treatment helps to control symptoms.
So you better understand how quickly my moods can change, I am going to share some blog posts with specific dates of when they were posted:
February 8, 2019
I should be use to being bipolar by now, but how do you get use to feeling so helpless and miserable and then feel great out of nowhere? Right now I feel helpless, not motivated to do anything at all, my body aches, I’m tired non-stop and I’m sleeping a lot. I’ve really tried to get motivated to do something, anything. The only thing I have gotten done is to get on the elliptical 3 times this week. It helps my anxiety so that’s the only reason I could actually force myself to work out.
On a level from 1-10 (1 being the absolute worst) my anxiety has been at a constant 3 all week. I have nothing that is weighing on me. I think it goes along with my depression but I can’t seem to feel settled at all. I want to crawl out of my skin I’m so anxious. Like I mentioned above, I have been able to get myself on our elliptical a total of 3 times this week because it helps my anxiety for a couple of hours afterwards. I’ve tried occupying my mind doing different word games, sleeping as much as I can so I don’t have to experience this terrible anxiety, spending extra cuddle time with my two Labrador Retrievers (they are great “therapy” dogs), I’ve really tried to get up to clean but that didn’t happen very long, etc. My mind doesn’t and won’t shut off.
February 10, 2019
Today, was the start of being hypomanic. I woke up, ate breakfast, showered, went to the grocery store, came home and did several loads of laundry, worked out on the elliptical for an hour, showered again, meal prepped lunch for the week, cleaned the kitchen and my bedroom, got the “menu” planned for dinner for the week and now I’m blogging. For me, this is a lot in one day. I am not complaining because I rather do all this then sit around feeling miserable. When I’m hypomanic, I don’t sleep well at all. I did not nap today which is the complete opposite of last week.
April 8, 2019
Today has been a good day! I woke up and ate a very healthy breakfast and then Andrew and I took Maggie and Sadie for a nice walk. We have a park behind our house with a big field, playground, gazebo and walking trail. The weather here has been great — a bit grey but much warmer the past couple days. I’m starting to get out of my winter funk and I love it. Taking my dogs for a walk is very cathartic experience for me. I see how happy they are and it makes me smile and I would do absolutely anything for them.
April 10, 2019
I woke up early this morning and looked outside and saw beautiful sunrise. It was really nice to wake up to this. That was the extent of my good mood. After breakfast my mood took a massive dive and depression set in. I knew the past few days were too good to be true. I have no idea what triggered this depression; it may not have been anything at all. The majority of my depression is chemical. I went back to bed after breakfast and just got myself up and it is 2:30PM EST here. I’m ready to go back to bed and I really have to force myself to stay out of it.
The bipolar rollercoaster is no fun. I don’t wish this on anybody, not even my worst enemy. I feel extremely anxious, sad, angry, unmotivated and tired all at the same time. When I was younger, I never understood depression and why people couldn’t snap out of it. When I hear someone say, “just get up and get showered and do something, it will help,” I want to scream. It feels like I have this huge weight on my shoulders because I’m constantly disappointing people all of the time. I want to curl back up in bed and hide in the dark. I don’t want to watch TV, I don’t want to listen to music, I don’t want to read and I don’t want to be bothered. I just want to lay there in the dark in my safe space with my dogs. They are my therapy. I don’t see my actual therapist until the 15th and that’s probably a good thing because I would end up canceling my appointment if it was this week.
The uncontrollable ups and downs are extremely frustrating and unpredictable. People don’t understand how hard it is to do the simplest tasks when they don’t understand manic depression. It’s not their fault but it is very trying. I can only set small goals for myself because if I make huge goals and don’t achieve them, it is very discouraging. As you can see in a few of my posts, I typically go through more manic depression then hypomania. I can be in a great mood one minute, and the next minute I am the complete opposite. It doesn’t take much for me to get depressed and hide away. Even with the copping techniques I’ve learned in therapy, I still struggle on a daily basis. I hope this blog post has helped you understand what a few days of having bipolar are like.
My name is Elizabeth Wolfson and I live in Cleveland, Ohio. I live with my husband and our two beautiful girls (Labrador Retrievers), Maggie and Sadie. I am in my mid 30s and have struggled my entire life with different mental hardships and health issues. In my blog, I try to discuss different mental health disorders and how they have affected my life. If you would like to read more of my blogs, check it out at Smiling Through Tears.
Thanks so much Elizabeth for participating in the emerging blogger series!
You can find a listing of all of the posts in the series here.
Every week I’ll publish one or two emerging blogger mental health-themed guest post(s) by a blogger who’s early on in their mental health blogging evolution, with priority given to those whose blog has less than 50 WordPress followers. The focus is on community-building rather than just a one-off guest post.
If you’re interested in being featured in the emerging blogger series, email me at mentalhealthathome (at) gmail (dot) com with a brief description of what you’d like to write about and your blog name/URL. I’m looking for bloggers who have already had some form of connection with me or my blog, who have blogs that are focused on mental health, and who will contribute posts that are relevant to a broad mental health blogger audience. Although I may make occasional exceptions for bloggers that I have an established relationship with, generally blogs that serve a primarily commercial purpose will not be considered.