Not really bipolar…?

Ana Asked: Not really bipolar…?

Hi, I thought maybe I had bipolar disorder but in a milder way – sort of like Cyclothymia but not really. At first I thought that maybe I was depressed, because I've had to leave everything I'm good at and love doing (dancing, tennis, equestrian, making art) because I got diagnosed with Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome two and a half years ago and a few months ago, with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I mean, doing nothing all day everyday when all I really want is to take over the world is pretty depressing. Actually, I think I was depressed a couple years ago when TTS happened. To top it all, I applied to boarding school on december and I really, really wanted to go and I got in but can't go because my family can't afford it and I didn't get enough financial aid. So, I've been feeling more than a little down lately; but it's more than that. I also sometimes feel hyper, on top of the world and over-confident all of a sudden; I start telling hilarious jokes, jump from one project to another and just become very extroverted. On these days I even do things that I know will hurt me (for example, spend a day drawing), not because I want to hurt myself, because I just really want to. However, some days I just feel extremely pessimistic and tired, a burden to everyone and start crying (sometimes because of something and sometimes for no reason at all). On these days, I don't want to know about anything or anyone. Every time the phone rings I hope it's not for me because I don't want to talk to anyone, much less get out of my room/bed. I've also wished I was dead, whether because I've felt too overwhelmed or because I'm curious, but I've/I'll NEVER planned on actually committing suicide (I guess maybe I'm too much of a chicken lol).
This morning I was sure I was bipolar, but some things that almost always happened to bi-polars while showing symptoms just didn't happen. For example, I sleep normally; some days I'm not hungry at all, some days I eat every five minutes but its almost always normally; and also I'm not ALWAYS in mood swings. Sometimes I have a few days of "stable" behaviour. However, the most distinctive difference is that these mood swings usually last for a couple of days or even hours before switching, while on bipolar patients usually lasting for a couple of weeks, or so I read. I know so many people have it a lot worse than me, but I can't help feeling this way. Also, my great-grandmother is suspected to have been bipolar but only after her death (she never got examined or anything, so I don't know for sure). Maybe it's just my hormones (I'm 16) or maybe its something else. Maybe I just feel everything too deeply. I was just wondering if anyone out there felt the same way.


Carys Answered:
I watched my dad suffer with it for the past 5 years. When he is depressed he doesn't leave bed for weeks, he can go days without using the toilet or eating. If he does leave bed its only to use the toilet, he cries a lot when he is awake but he can sleep around 20 hours a day! And often says he just wants to die. This will go on for around 4 months until he switches into full blown mania. He will go days without sleeping and then when he does sleep its for around an hour. He talks constantly and does a million things at once, gets angry really easily and cannot sit still. Many times he has gone into psychosis when he was hearing voices and tried to kill himself and my mum. His mania would go on for months. He has been hospitalised like 4 times.

Bipolar is very extreme mood swings from depression into mania or hypomania depending which type the person has. Type 1 entails depression and mania and type 2 entails depression and hypomania. Type 1 is most severe and people in full blown mania or depression usually need hospitalisation. You can read symptoms on the internet but they do not tell you how severe the mood swings or or how they are persented in the illness. For example the mood swings last long periods of time. Usually 6 months depressed and then 4 months manic and the normal for a period of say 2 months and then back to depression again and it cycles. Everyone has a different cycle as everyone is different. Depression is when a person has a continous low mood, they feel hopeless, worthless and sad all the time. They sleep excessivley, like 16-20 hours a night, they cry a lot or cannot cry at all, they may feel no emotions, they may self harm or feel suicidal, they have no energy or motivation some days to even leave bed to use the toilet, they may under or over eat.Then in mania the person can go nights without any sleep at all or sleep less than 3 hours a night and feel fine, they have so much energy they constantly are moving or doing something, not being able to sit still for even a minute, they spend all their money, engagae in risky behaviour like sex with strangers or alcohol and drugs abuse, they talk so fast no one can keep up with them and in some cases people can becaome psychotic hearing and/or seeing things that are not their or being delusional and paranoid. Hypomania is in type 2 bipolar, it is a lesser version of full blown mania. The symptoms are not as extreme as mania but still severe enough to need medication to control. People in type 2 never experience psychotic symptoms.

This is not bipolar disorder (cyclothymia), mood swings in any type of bipolar disorder last weeks or months at a time, no minutes, hours or even days. To be honest you sound like a normal 16 year old girl, you sound like how my sister was when she was 16 (18 now). You shouldn't worry, you sound perfectly normal.

What you read on the internet is for adults with bipolar, early onset bipolar moods can switch much quicker than in adults. But it is hard to tell in teens if it's just a 'phase'. It may be normal happy, but it could also be hypomania (milder mania), it depends what normal happy is for you. I'd certainly get the depression seen to by a doctor, I'd mention these high moods as well. Only a health Professional can diagnose you at the end of the day.

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