In the family of mood disorders Bipolar 2 is the middle child, often misunderstood and struggling for its own identity.
Classically defined B2 is a psychiatric illness marked by distinct periods of extreme euphoria (hypomania), and sadness or hopelessness (depression).
Not so classically defined B2’s sometimes think they’re capable of being the Messiah, B1’s really think they are.
B1’s and B2’s unite in pity for their cousins, the depressives– we share their pain but they get none of our rush. They don’t know the intense clarity of thought and purpose that comes with mania, the heightened senses of taste, smell and sound and the joy of sustained periods of creativity and productiveness.
As much as they miss out, depressives are at least spared the collateral damage of euphoria; hyperactivity, inflated self-image, reckless spending, hyper sexuality and substance abuse. The depression that inevitably follows these episodes is always worse for the damage caused to others by things we do when manic.
Devoid of any insight at all that I might have a mental illness, my early adult life was lived at a frenetic pace. There was a law degree to be done, a career to be advanced, causes to champion and a family to be raised. And everything was done on a big scale and at pace at least until my thirties when the consequences of undiagnosed mental illness was visited upon me. I exhausted those around me and myself, relationships became strained or lost and the downward spiral of thoughts of worthlessness, paranoia and negativity set in until one day I collapsed.
Like many B2’s I was first diagnosed with depression. That was 12 years ago when I was 40. The medication kept me upright a little more than without but for another 5 or so years until diagnosed correctly with B2 my world remained upside down.
I’m a rapid cycler meaning the duration of my highs and lows are relatively short – sometimes 3 to five days up, then as many down. When up I can do the work of 10 men. When down it can take me 30 minutes to tie a shoelace. In the end it was a friend with B2 that recognised my illness and put me on a path to getting some better medical attention and treatment.
There are as many forms of treatment as there are variances in our symptoms and cycles. While the cocktails vary the staple ingredients are always the same; medication, therapy, diet, exercise, sleep, routine and moderation in all things particularly in the use of that good friend of the depressed, alcohol.
Some of these things with out the others just doesn’t work for me, and it wasn’t until I discovered ECT that my life turned around. I’ll tell you about English Channel Therapy another time.