Popular singer Yo Yo Honey Singh recently came out about his struggle with bipolar disorder. But he’s not the first celebrity to face challenges as a result. International names such as Demi Lovato, Mariah Carey, Russell Brand, Kurt Cobain and many others have struggled with this mental illness. Although the intricacies of BPD have been portrayed in films such as Silver Linings Playbook, Mr Jones and Manic, only a handful of people know about it.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by the phases of intense mood swings generally identified by the features of euphoric highs and depressive lows. While during the highs (mania or hypermania) one would feel unusually elated, extremely irritable, or purposefully focused, the lows, on the other hand, will leave you depressed along with a lingering sense of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. One of the symptoms of depressive episodes can also be a lack of energy and interest and in some cases even suicidal thoughts.
Dr. Sunil Nigam, a psychologist, elaborated on different types of bipolar disorder: “This condition is not as simple as it seems because there is more than one type of BPD. For example, someone diagnosed with bipolar I disorder must have had a cycle of at least one manic and depressive episode. On the contrary, for us to diagnose the bipolar II disorder, depressive episodes would be more common than the manic episodes in an individual. And at least one hypomania episode to differentiate from the first.”
He also explained that not one contributing factor is responsible for bipolar disorder: “It could also be genetics, especially if someone in the family has already struggled with the condition or hormonal imbalances. Often it is an amalgamation of both. Certain cases may also be associated with a major traumatic event, such as personal loss or abuse, which may be a trigger,” explains Dr. Nigam.
Bipolar disorder directly or indirectly affects not one but several aspects of life. Be it personal or professional, it intervenes in even the simplest of daily functions like sleeping. Gagan, an 18-year-old college student, shared his experiences with borderline. He shares: “I get intense headaches from racing thoughts. Racing thought of insomnia and the restless legs that come with it. When I’m manic I have no appetite and I also want to push myself to the limit. But it’s insomnia where I really I struggle with it. My sleep routine gets messed up during my manic episodes.”
Meanwhile, Mariyam, who was diagnosed with BPD for a decade, has hampered her ability to maintain and sustain relationships: “I have been lonely for a long time. Lack of awareness about bipolar disorder and the insensitivity to my condition is something I’ve always dealt with, from my family to my friends. So it has been very difficult to maintain a long-term relationship with someone. Either they freak out about my manic/depressive episodes or just underestimate it because they lack empathy,” she said.
Another person who wishes to remain anonymous recalled their struggles with actively pursuing their passion. They said: “My creativity is lost somewhere along the line. I wrote novels, played guitar/composed music, drew… But only in depression or mania. I feel so useless because even when I start writing or drawing again, it gets boring for me. I feel like an NPC. I miss those days when I could create something interesting and unique.”
While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, it can be managed through therapy and medication. Dr. Vivek Swarup emphasized: “Usually we prescribe drugs to change our patients’ mood and help them with their sleeping patterns. But cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling also help them maintain a consistent quality of life. Only in critical cases do we recommend hospitalization. But there is a serious need to educate more people about bipolar disorder.”
Gowri Shankar, a mental health expert, shares that bipolar disorder is very common, contrary to the popular belief that it only grabs a handful. She states: “Our country has really opened up to treating mental health as a serious issue. But we still have a long way to go. Certain conditions such as bipolar disorder and MPD still remain a mystery to most. How could we identify the symptoms of our friends and relatives unless we know about these illnesses? Awareness should start right at school and colleges. Like sex education, special lectures should be given on mental health issues.”
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness, but with proper care, under medical supervision, and some organic lifestyle changes, such as sticking to a regular routine, choosing a healthy diet, exercising regularly, following a good sleep schedule, and seeking help, it really can go a long way in leading a normal life.
Read all the Latest Lifestyle News here