“She’s Bipolar”

Wanna grind my gears?? Let me hear you joke about a person being bipolar. I’m open and honest enough to tell you that I struggled with anger issues for a very long time, and while I’m 1000 times better now, joking about mental illness is one of the things that makes me want to square up immediately. It’s not a joking matter, under any circumstance.

The Types

The listing below comes from WebMD:

  • Bipolar I
    A person affected by bipolar I disorder has had at least one manic episode in his or her life. A manic episode is a period of abnormally elevated mood, accompanied by abnormal behavior that disrupts life.
  • Bipolar II
    Bipolar II is similar to bipolar I disorder, with moods cycling between high and low over time. However, in bipolar II disorder, the “up” moods never reach full-on mania.
  • Rapid Cycling
    In rapid cycling, a person with bipolar disorder experiences four or more episodes of mania or depression in one year. About 10% to 20% of people with bipolar disorder have rapid cycling.
  • Mixed Bipolar
    In most forms of bipolar disorder, moods alternate between elevated and depressed over time. But with mixed bipolar disorder, a person experiences both mania and depression simultaneously or in rapid sequence.
  • Cyclothymia
    Cyclothymia (cyclothymic disorder) is a relatively mild mood disorder. People with cyclothymic disorder have milder symptoms than in full-blown bipolar disorder.

Textbook symptoms of bipolar disorder include dramatic and unpredictable mood swings, manic behavior, and depression behavior. Another symptom is self-injury. This often manifests itself as cutting, self-mutilation, or self-harm and is an injurious attempt to cope with overpowering negative emotions, such as extreme anger, anxiety, and frustration. It is usually repetitive, not a one-time act.

What I See

In 1990, I witnessed one extremely frightening manic episode that my sister experienced. I had no clue what bipolar disorder was at that time, I just knew my sister was in trouble and needed treatment. I remember it like it was yesterday, but since then, all I’ve seen is the deep, deep depression. It got worse after Mama died. She continues to get some of the best treatment in the area, but there are so many days when all I see is a shell of the woman she used to be. She’s still meticulous about her appearance. She continues to keep a neat home, but there’s an underlying sense that something’s just not right.

My Thoughts

You’ll be hard pressed to find any other person as understanding, empathetic, or non-judgemental as I am. I’m old and smart enough to know that each of us carries some kind of burden, each of us is fighting some type of battle. Whether it’s mental illness or the plain old day-to-day struggle to keep our heads above water, we’re all here to help and understand the next person.

Be mindful of the things you joke about. Mental illness is not funny.

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