Living With Bipolar Disorder

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Former cast member of the popular television series Fresh Prince  of Bel-Air, Jenifer Lewis was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1990.  She admits she knew for years that something was wrong.  Lewis says she deals with her mental health issues every day, but she’s happy with her life thanks to really loving herself.

“You have to look in the mirror … and say—before you can go or grow into anything—you have to say you love yourself,” she says.

One of the key triggers for her disease came 20 years ago when her father died.

“I was overwhelmed with my grief, unable to handle my feelings,” she says. “I cried and cried, and I started to scream. I wanted to be let out of the darkness.”

According to the Mayoclinic:

Bipolar disordersometimes called manic-depressive disorder — is associated with mood swings that range from the lows of depression to the highs of mania.

Now, R&B sensation Chris Brown’s behavioral problems may be the result of a mix of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, E! News reports.

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The singer was in court on Friday (February 28) for a progress hearing in his 2009 assault case after he was sentenced to spend 90 days in rehab in November.  The entertainer’s rehab facility confirmed that Brown has been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, severe insomnia, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“Mr. Brown will also require close supervision by his treating physician in order to ensure his bipolar mental health condition remains stable. It is not uncommon for patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar II to use substances to self-medicate their biomedical mood swings and trauma triggers,” a letter from the facility read. “Mr. Brown became aggressive and acted out physically due to his untreated mental health disorder, severe sleep deprivation, inappropriate self-medicating and untreated PTSD.”

According to WebMD:

Bipolar II disorder (pronounced “bipolar two”) is a form of mental illness. 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. The less-intense elevated moods in bipolar II disorder are called hypomanic episodes, or hypomania.

A person affected by bipolar II disorder has had at least one hypomanic episode in life. Most people with bipolar II disorder also suffer from episodes of depression. This is where the term “manic depression” comes from.

In between episodes of hypomania and depression, many people with bipolar II disorder live normal lives.

Bipolar disorder can be treated with medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes, but sticking with treatment can be a challenge.

Recognize the signs of Bipolar Disorder

In some cases, mania leads to self-destructive activities like reckless sexual behavior, drug abuse, and an out-of-control temper. Manic periods may last from a few hours or stretch on for days or weeks. Look for the following signs of bipolar disorder:

  • Having a feeling of being “high” – so high, in some cases, that one feels invincible. This is often accompanied by the feeling that one has special powers or is godlike.
  • Dealing with racing thoughts that jump from subject to subject so quickly that it’s difficult to keep up or concentrate on one thing.
  • Talking so quickly that others can’t make sense of what one is saying, and feeling jumpy and restless.
  • Staying up all night or sleeping for only a few hours at a time, but never feeling tired the next day.
  • Exhibiting reckless behavior, such as sleeping with multiple people, making risky business investments, spending money on large, expensive items, quitting a job, and so on.

Managing bipolar disorder starts with proper treatment, including medication and therapy. But there is so much more you can do to help yourself on a day-to-day basis.

Unfortunately, bipolar disorder tends to get worse if you don’t get the proper care.

 For those with bipolar disorder, the periods of depression are longer and more frequent than periods of mania. Bipolar depression shares many characteristics with regular depression, but there are key differences that distinguish the two.Watch for these symptoms:

  • Having an inability to experience pleasure or joy.
  • Being plagued by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. Feelings of worthlessness and guilt are also common.
  • Sleeping more than normal and feeling tired and sluggish all the time.
  • Gaining weight and having changes in appetite.
  • Experiencing thoughts of death and suicide.

If you feel like you may show signs related to bipolar disorder, talk with your doctor. Millions of Americans have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness and can develop at any point in a person’s life. Just like heart disease or diabetes, it requires medical treatment.

By ignoring the signs of bipolar disorder you may put yourself in danger. Mood swings may increase and become more frequent. Furthermore, not seeking help could lead to thoughts of suicide.

Treatments can be effective for many people with bipolar disorder. Doctors may prescribe medications that can help stabilize your moods. Through therapy, you can discuss feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that cause problems in your social and work life. With the right help, you can learn how to master these so you can function better and enjoy life.