This is what it’s like to be bipolar

Bipolar disorder affects about 1-2% of the population.
It’s characterised by manic episodes, depressive episodes, and potentially some psychosis.
Katherine Ponte spoke to INSIDER about what it’s been like to live with the disorder for the past 15 years.
She had several manic episodes where she thought the world was coming to an end, and went through periods of severe depression.
Being manic gets you into trouble, but it’s the depression that can kill you, she said.

When Katherine Ponte had her most extreme manic episode, she ended up on John Lennon’s “Imagine” mosaic memorial, lying down in Central Park, thinking the world was coming to an end.

She had previously been in hospital for about a month, but as soon as she came home she threw all her medications down the toilet. She truly didn’t believe there was anything wrong with her, and she refused to accept her diagnosis of bipolar 1 disorder.

Ponte’s husband watched as tourists surrounded her and laughed and took pictures. An ambulance finally pulled up and wrapped a sheet around her head to toe and placed her in the back.

“They said they had a ‘wild one,'” Ponte told INSIDER. “And I remember that very clearly… It was very difficult to hear that because you feel like you’re an animal the way they refer to you.”

There is a huge contrast between high and low moods

Ponte was first diagnosed with severe bipolar 1 in 2000. Bipolar 1 is a mental health disorder characterised by manic or hypomanic episodes, depressive episodes, and potentially some psychosis.

According to the mental health charity Mind, mania “lasts for a week or more and has a severe negative impact on your ability to do your usual day-to-day activities — often disrupting or stopping these completely.” Some of the symptoms are racing thoughts and speech, delusions and paranoia, hearing or seeing things other people don’t, and being uncontrollably excited.

People in bouts of mania are hard to communicate or reason with, often talking a lot at high speed, and saying things that don’t make a lot of sense. They may be rude and aggressive, or behave out of character. It’s also sometimes associated with taking serious risks with their health and wellbeing. For instance, many misuse drugs, act dangerously, or spend an inappropriate and excessive amount of money.

After a manic episode, people with bipolar 1 disorder may then feel ashamed about how they behaved, or they might not remember it at all. They may also fall into a depressive episode where they feel down, upset, lacking in confidence, or even suicidal.

“Many people find that a depressive episode can feel harder to deal with than manic or hypomanic episodes,” it says on the Mind website. “The contrast between your high and low moods may make your depression seem even deeper.”

Ponte said that being manic gets you into trouble, but it’s the depression that can kill you.

“When you’re manic, you don’t think you’re going to die, you think you’re on top of the world, …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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