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Bipolar or just 'Out of Whack?'

Here is my situation.  I am a fairly talented singer/songwriter.  It was not until after I met a wonderful woman who is biploar had I been introduced to the illness.  She is a talented poet/lyricist as well.  She gave me a very informative description of the disorder, and turned on to a well written book about the same so that I might better understand her.  After reading the book I am beginning to sense that I, too, may suffer the disorder.  I have long periods of time feeling as if I couldn't feel happier.  I get very little sleep during this time (2-3 hours if any at all).  My mind is highly productive in the creativity department, and I feel as if I have overloaded bounds of energy (regardless of lack of sleep).  I will then progress into what I feel is 'normal.'  I will start to sleep better, feel regulated.  This often lasts for months.  Then either I begin to feel 'up' again or I come crashing down.  I don't want to do anything.  I have no energy.  If I wasn't forced to do what I do everyday I would just not get out of bed.  I thought this was my body adjusting to not sleeping and getting worn out but I am beginning to wonder.  I do not, however have any issues with angry outbursts.  I just get overly irritable and generally annoyed.

With that said, I have a few concerns.  I have been reading that untreated bipolar disorder can lead to extensive if not psychotic mania and depression.  This scares me.  I am sure I need to see someone (as soon as I can fit it into my schedule) to talk to.  Can bipolar be treated without medication?  While my girlfriend is on medication and her creativity is still at it's peak it concernes me that I will lose my ability to create if fogged by medication.  I am at  a prime point in my career and I cannot afford to lose that creative flow.  Any advice that anyone has would be greatly appreciated.

I am sorry this post is so long.  My girlfriend mentioned this site and how she has gotten a lot of support and advice here so I thought I would give it a try.

One more thing, I do a lot of traveling and I have a hard time following a schedule due to differences in time zones and things as well.  I don't know if that plays a role in all of this, or if it can be the sole reason of all of my problems.
7 Responses
498656 tn?1213446919
I THINK you know the answer to your question.  You should seek the advise of a mental health specialist.  I don't think people with bpd ever know it's bp until they are told it is.  It's great that you have this insight to be truthful with yourself to see your have some symptoms.  Worrying about your creativity is jumping the gun.  First see what the pros say.  Do you ever have rapid thinking or run on speech? Just another syptom, but no one has the SAME symptoms.  Good Luck.  Litbee
Avatar universal
I believe you are right.  I am always one step ahead of myself whether I choose to be or not.  I appreciate your response.  I do have racing thoughts on occasion.  Sometimes they are so fast that I can't keep track of them all.  Something else to bring up when I go.  
463575 tn?1211302688
one of the basic criteria for ANY mental disorder is that it significantly impairs/affects a person in one of these areas:

1. social environment (friends, neighbors, community - including law and judicial systems)
2. relationships (spouses, family of origin, current family setting)
3. educational (mostly for children, teens, and young adults of college age)
4. work/career

i think we could all find a way to pathologize ourselves if we sat with a mental disorders book long enough. i'm not saying to ignore what your gut feelings tell you, but just know that it's easy to fit in to a lot of categories through reflecting upon normal, but not common, personality characteristics.

it's only a disease when it significantly impairs our lives.

good luck in your career!
403156 tn?1290150018
From what you are describing, it does sound like you have experienced the characteristic highs and lows of the illness. It would be beneficial to seek the help of a professional to help figure things out. Be sure to write everything down so that when you do have an appointment, you can have as detailed a list as possible with symptoms as well as any questions. It is easy to forget to mention things during appointments. Another interesting link is the connection between creativity and bipolar disorder.

Here is something that I found:http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1726

Though this psychopathology is not for one to wish, one interesting association with bipolar disorder is the creativity of those afflicted. (2, 3, 5, 7) This is not the normal creativity experienced by the above-average people (on the scale of creativity). This creativity is the creative genius, which is so rare, yet an inordinate percentage of the well-known creative people were/are afflicted with manic depression. (2, 3) Among the lengthy list are: (writers) F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath; (poets) William Blake, Sara Teasdale, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson; (composers) Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky. (10) Psychiatrists, realizing a connection greater than coincidence, have performed studies all over the world in an attempt to establish a link between bipolar disorder and creativity. (5) In the 1970s, Nancy C. Andreasen of the University of Iowa examined 30 creative writers and found 80% had experienced at least one episode of major depression, hypomania, or mania. (5) A few years later Kay Redfield Jamison studied 47 British writers, painters, and sculptors from the Royal Academy. She found that 38% had been treated for bipolar disorder. In particular, half of the poets (the largest group with manic depression) had needed medication or hospitalization. (5) Researchers at Harvard University set up a study to assess the degree of original thinking to perform creative tasks. They were going to rate creativity in a sample of manic-depressive patients. Their results showed that manic-depressives have a greater percentage of creativity than the controls. (5) There have been biographical studies of earlier generations of artists and writers which show that they have 18 times the rate of suicide (as compared to the general population), 8-10 times the rate of unipolar depression, and 10-20 times the rate of bipolar depression. (5) The additive results of these studies provide ample evidence that there is a link between bipolar disorder and creative genius. The question now is not whether or not there exists a connection between the two, but why it exists.

One common feature in mania or hypomania is the increase in unusually creative thinking and productivity. (2, 3, 5, 7) The manic factor contributes to an increased frequency and fluency of thoughts due to the cognitive difference between normalcy and mania. (2, 5) Manic people often speak and think in rhyme or alliteration more than non-manic people. (2, 5) In addition, the lifestyles of manic-depressives in their manic phase is comparable to those of creative people. Both groups function on very little sleep, restless attitudes, and they both exhibit depth and emotion beyond the norm. (2, 5) Biologically speaking, the manic state is physically alert. That is, it can respond quickly and intellectually with a range of changes (i.e. emotional, perceptual, behavioral). (5) The manic perception of life is one without bounds. This allows for creativity because the person feels capable of anything. It is as if the walls, which inhibit the general population, do not exist in manic people, allowing them to become creative geniuses. They understand a part of art, music, and literature which normal people do not attempt. The manic state is in sharp contrast to the depressive phase of bipolar patients. In their depressed phase, patients only see gloom and boundaries. They feel helpless, and out of this helplessness comes the creativity. (5) The only way bipolar patients can survive their depressed phases, oftentimes, is to unleash their despondency through some creative work. (5, 3)

Since the states of mania and depression are so different, the adjustment between the two ends up being chaotic. Looking at some works of literature or music, it can be noticed which phase the creator was in at the time of composition. In works by Sylvia Plath, for example, the readers may take notice of the sharp contrast among chapters. Some chapters she is full of hope and life, while other chapters read loneliness and desolation. Another example can be found in Tchaikovsky's music; there is a great variation among his compositions concerning their tone, tempo, rhythm, etc. In fact, some say that most actual compositions result from this in-between period because this is the only time when the patient can physically deliver something worthwhile. (3) Because the phases are so chaotic, the ideas float during the manic and depressive states, but the final, developed products are formed during the patients' "normal" phases.

Good Luck :)
447130 tn?1225470866
I would say if this hasn't been an issue, and it hasn't bothered you or changed your life in any way, you may not have to worry about it. The disease has very specific criteria and it effects your day to day life, sometimes causing complete disability. I believe Bipolar disorder is the 4 th leading cause of disability in the US right now, depression is at #2.
I would check out NAMI. org to see if you meet any of the criteria for bipolar disorder, if so, it's a very manageable illness. The hardest part is just getting on the right medication. Once that's done, you can lead a fairly normal life. Oh there are other steps we have to take, like therapy, keeping the same schedule as much as possible, and avoiding triggers that may set off a manic or depressive episode.
It sounds like your a great guy sticking by your girlfriends side. That's the most important thing you can do for her-support. Just knowing it's an illness like diabetes and rewuires medication daily may help remove the stigma we sometimes see in the real world. I always tell people to be supportive and if things start to get crazy, remember it's just a phase of the illlness and it will pass.
You have a lot of support here if you need it!! Keep coming back.
Erin
Avatar universal
Thank you.  I think that I will find a doctor to talk to.  Most of you are probably right and I may have been jumping the gun.  I will keep you posted on how things are going.

J.T.
Avatar universal
It sounds like you're BP. If you can, try to manage your moods without meds. But if you start having psychotic manic episodes, meds might be needed to prevent those, because in theory the more manic episodes you have, the more frequently you'll have them in the future.

In the mean time, try reading "The Natural Medicine Guide to Bipolar Disorder" (The Healthy Mind Guides)  by Stephanie Marohn, and "The Mood Cure" by Julia Ross.
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