It’s crazy to think I have done 4 other frequently asked questions panels besides this one! Currently I am awake at 12:33am with severe nausea and pain in my leg so I can’t sleep, surprise surprise! I am very shaky and trying to drink some water. I honestly feel like I drank too much alcohol hence the nausea, but I haven’t drank in over a month so it’s not that. So what do you guys want to know about bipolar disorder? Hopefully your questions are answered below and if you have any additional questions, feel free to utilize the comments section, and I’ll try to answer to the best of my ability.
1. Does bipolar disorder get worse with age?
I know that bipolar can get worse in time if it is left untreated. Supposedly it can get more severe as you get older, but in my experience, it has evolved as my understanding and observation of bipolar has increased, but I wouldn’t say that the illness itself is worse as I have gotten older. I think I know my triggers fairly well and I can predict my cycles of hypomania and depression, so that makes it easier for me to treat the illness. It is hard for me to say what the illness will be like 5-10 years from now because I am not sure where I will be, but as long as I keep up with my medication regimen, I should be good.
2. What are some triggers for those with bipolar disorder?
- Negative life events i.e. death, loss of relationship, financial tension, addiction, moving, etc.
- Positive life events can trigger either manic or depressive state of mind such as graduation, job promotion, new relationship, engagement, new child, etc.
- drugs and alcohol can either trigger mania, hypomania, or depression due to the substance makeup that these substances have on the mind. Uppers and downers can really have an intensified affect on the bipolar person. Persistent use of drugs or alcohol can negatively affect the person and/or cause addiction
- Sleep or lack thereof can really affect bipolar folks’ moods
- Seasonal changes can affect mood swings due to the lack of sun or too much sun
- Hormonal changes such as a woman’s period can affect their moods more than the normal average woman who is going through their cycle
3. How do bipolar people behave or think?
Well we aren’t aliens so we act like people and think maybe a little differently than you do. Often times in public, bipolar people mask themselves. Masking is hiding or limiting their exposure to people by acting as “normal” as possible to make it seem like they don’t have a mental illness or the byproducts of their illness are reduced.
For example, when experiencing hypomania, I have pressured speech, I tend to move around a lot, very antsy, very agitated, high energy, etc. So if I have a desk job where I am supposed to be typing something up, I would probably do my job but tap my foot or use a fidget tool to mask how much energy I have. Whereas, if I am depressed, I may make myself go talk to customers and pretend to smile and act like nothing is wrong.
When manic, my thinking is very scattered and all over the place, and I am thinking a million miles a second. Part of my mental process can be seen by half finished projects, pressured speech, and a lack of sleep. As for depression, I think very slow, I don’t want to do anything, I am dreading my day or my existence. This can be seen by staying in bed, excessive sleeping, and being very lethargic.
4. What do you take for bipolar II disorder?
I take three categories of pharmaceuticals. Lithium, antidepressants, and antipsychotics. Each of those categories does something different. Lithium is a mood stabilizer. I take Abilify for my antipsychotic. I take Prozac for my antidepressant. I take other medication like birth control and various supplements to support my very out of wack immune system. I was trying to research the difference between an antipsychotic and a mood stabilizer, but it’s quite complex and kind of confusing to explain, so you can look that one up if you feel inclined to.
5. Why is life expectancy 20 years less for people with bipolar disorder?
Suicide is a factor in this matter. About 20% of those who are bipolar commit suicide and succeed every year. Many more people attempt suicide and do not succeed. But a lot of contributing factors have to deal with socioeconomic status, ability to see the doctor, ability to see a therapist, access to medication, and with that comes the double edged sword of having too much medication and overdosing or feeling more suicidal due to the dosage or type of medication.
A lot of the side effects of antidepressants and antipsychotics lead to weight gain and obesity which lowers the mortality rate for those with bipolar disorder. A lot of bipolar people smoke cigarettes or vape, which also reduces the life expectancy. It is crazy to think that mainly by taking our medication, it can lead to other health problems that will then shrink the amount of life left to live, even if we do everything right. But if we don’t take these meds which are supposedly state of the art, we don’t got a shot in hell of living without them.
Let me know in the comments which one surprised you the most and the least! Keep trucking and I hope you learned something from this post. These are by far my favorite to do, so keep the questions coming!