This is a blog about my journey with bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed spring of 2011 and was admitted into a mental health hospital a month before my wedding. I struggled greatly for the next year and a half going on and off meds, experimenting with different forms of therapy and was readmitted to the hospital at the end of 2012. Since then I have been learning how to re-live my life. Seeing a wise, supportive, kind therapist once a week and emerging myself into Dialectical Behavioural Therapy are 2 of many ways that are helping me recover. I have found deep comfort and much strength in mindfulness practices, taught to me from DBT.

This blog is my way of allowing you to see into the life of someone who suffers from bipolar, depression and extreme anxiety. I want to own my story, and help defeat the stigma. I hope you find some comfort in knowing you are not alone, or learn more about mental illness through the writings of my blog.

Monday, 18 February 2013

What is bi polar

What is bi polar disorder?

Bi polar disorder is an abnormal fluctuation in extreme moods varying between elevated moods (mania) and lows (depression) with periods of stability. Both men and women are affected equally, with the average age of onset approx 28, however children and teens and seniors can also be affected. Approx 3% of the population are said to have the disorder.

The dramatic fluctuation in mood is referred to as an episode or mood swing. The severity, frequency, and length of episodes vary from one person to the next. Without treatment and proper care, the frequency and severity of this chronic disorder can increase. Bi polar is very hard to diagnose because many people will only complain about the depressive symptoms, not thinking anything of the 'highs' because they just think they are feeling great. However early diagnosis is really important because it can lessen the effects of the disorder. People with bipolar have a 80% risk for alcohol and substance abuse. Marital fluctuation, chronic unemployment, and suicide are also prevalent.

There are 2 types of bipolar. Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2. The main difference is that with bipolar 1, you have full blown mania symptoms, and in bipolar 2 you have a less extreme mania called a hypo mania state.

Criteria for diagnoses:
Bi polar 1 - at least one episode of mania or mixed state in your LIFETIME
Bi polar 2 - at least one episode of hypomania in your LIFETIME
- at least one episode of major depressive disorder in your LIFETIME
Bi polar with rapid cycling - meets criteria for bipolar 1 or 2
- four or more episodes of major depressive disorder, or manic/hypomania disorder in any 1 year

Symptoms of mania:
Increased physical and mental energy
Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self confidence
Excessive irritability, aggressive behaviour
Little need for sleep
Racing speech, racing thoughts
Impulsiveness, poor judgement, distract ability
Reckless behaviour such as spending sprees, erratic driving etc
Delusions or hallucinations

Symptoms of depression:
Unexplained crying spells
Irritability, anger
Worry, agitation, extreme anxiety
Loss of energy
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and hopelessness
Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
No longer interested in previous interests
Recurring thoughts of death and suicide

How it affects me:
Now that was a very general description of what bi polar is, and I didn't even cover everything. Bi polar is very different from person to person. You can't just diagnose someone and then think they fit into the little box of a medical title. There are variations and complications. For example, I experience many mixed states, which is feeling manic and depressed at the same time.
I was first diagnosed with bi polar 2, but recently it's been looking a little fuzzy.
Most of the time when I am unstable, I am depressed or in a mixed state. Very rarely do I experience a hypomanic state only. I mentioned above the diagnoses of bi polar with rapid cycling, which is what I have. It's crazy to me to think that someone could just experience ONE manic and ONE depressive episode in their LIFETIME and still have bipolar. That is not what I know. I know my day can change on a dime from great to hellish. I am constantly fluctuationing from being ok to screaming my lungs out, or bawling my eyes out. My dog Benji is terrified of me when I get like that, it's the saddest thing ever.
I was going to put a little star besides the symptoms that I experience but I ended up basically starring everything.

I want to thank EVERYONE for all of there support and encouragement since sharing my blog publicly, I was doing so good after sharing and felt the prayers of those who prayed, which is big coming from me, a prayer cynic. Sunday evening brought a lot of turmoil back into my life and I was so angry that I couldn't hold onto that goodness for longer. It's like I've become angrier than ever, screaming at Ryan, throwing things, banging on the walls, I am just so angry. I can't find peace.
I am currently on lithium, as you know if you've read that here, and I hear of people feeling better in a matter of weeks. It's been almost 2 months now since starting lithium and I'm beginning to feel worse. It's just so discouraging you know? I want my life back already. But I have a doctor appt tomorrow so I hope something changes or gets dealt with.

Again thank you for your support.
Many of you have asked how you can help, and honestly, just meals. I have no motivation, concentration, energy to cook, and it's not fair to Ryan to have to come home and make me supper after he's been working all day. Talk about guilt trip.


  1. Praying for you and Ryan, Richelle.


  2. You are a very brave woman and I appaud you for having the courage to put a face to Bi-polar, deression and anxiety. You're right, there is still so much stigma attached to mental illness. It really saddens me and I pray things will start to change. I'm also praying for you and your family.


  3. Thinking of you. Although I do not suffer from bi-polar, I have been suffering from depression for the past 22 years (or longer - since I was a child) but didn't feel that I could get any help until relatively recently. Its a scary feeling. You will get through this. Praying for you.