Bipolar is the wild card in my life. The official diagnoses came when I was around 30 years old. I am fairly confident bipolar has been with me since my early teens despite the late discovery.

Bipolar is a complex disorder. Bipolar disorder affects many people in their daily lives. I believe a vast majority of individuals who are unfamiliar or unaffected by bipolar see it as crazy mood swings. There is so much more to this disorder. While this does not apply to everyone, it seems to be a common theme.

Most days I feel confident my bipolar is under control and can relax the majority of the time. However, there are days when it sneaks up and rears its ugly head with no warning, and I am left bewildered. If you were to know me, you would know I am a control freak. I like organization; I like knowing what is coming next and have things just so. Being ambushed by bipolar is the last thing that factors into my personality!

Before bipolar treatment, I was up until all hours of the night and awake in the early mornings. Most nights I would get little to no sleep. Once or twice a month I would crash for 12-16 hours and be ready to go for the next run. At that time I had no idea my sleep pattern was a symptom of bipolar.

I found myself feeling embarrassed on a regular basis because I had opened my mouth and garbage had come out. No knowing when or where this might happen or why became stressful. Our friends were often the brunt of my displaced rage. I did not know how to keep it in check at that time, but I would soon learn. Being told by doctor after doctor it was depression, all in my head, or “just” some deep-rooted anger from the past, made things worse. I had been told this for the majority of my life about many things.

I finally visited a psychiatrist who seemed to care about her patients. She was willing to spend more than 15 minutes with patients to help get to the root of the problem. When I explained to her what I had been experiencing (anxiety, panic attacks, depression, finding myself doing crazy things, not sleeping, blurting out annoying, hurtful things at random times with no warning), she was able to tell me that I was bipolar. I had the first diagnosis, Bipolar I Disorder. We agreed to start a treatment plan to help balance my life. That was quite a while ago, and I still take those same medications. The treatment plan enabled me to feel human, be part of our social lives, and not feel like I was going crazy.

Part of the medication regimen was a drug to help me to sleep. Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to help yourself. A regular bedtime is best if followed by getting a proper amount of sleep. In today’s busy lifestyle, rest is precious; it is hard making it to bed at the same time every night. The goal is to make it bed within a couple of hours of your set bedtime, which is better than nothing. As for the amount of sleep you get, I am my best if I get 6 hours of sleep. Everyone is different. I believe most literature suggests that you get 8 to 9 hours of sleep to perform at your best. I, however, cannot sleep that long because of my fibromyalgia.

Overall I would have to say if someone were to ask me if it were a mood swing or me, I would have to answer “mood swing.” I am a very animated person normally but in no way violent. I don’t have rage issues, for the most part, I am level headed. When I do have a depressive or manic breakthrough, it seems to be the mood that takes over. The things I say or do aren’t who I am nor are they who I want to be but none the less they are part of me.

So I ask… Mood swing or me?

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