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Bipolar Disorder

Words as Weapons – and Another Bipolar Myth Dispelled

Welcome back to the loony bin, my fellow freaks!

Before I get back to dispelling myths about bipolar disorder, I want to talk a little about words. As a writer, words are my bread and butter. Language can be powerful. It doesn’t just help us define reality, it shapes it. Just ask Pluto. Poor little Pluto isn’t a planet anymore. Why? Because we SAY it isn’t.

Wacko. Nutcase. Lunatic. Psycho. Freak.

Those words can be very powerful when used with evil intent. Some of you reading this might be offended by me referring to people who suffer from bipolar disorder with those sort of words. I can understand. Those words can really, really hurt. Especially Cheroceewhen they come from a “friend.” Trust me. I know. Keep in mind that I’m not just talking about people with bipolar disorder. I AM one of those people.

Just as words can make meaning, they can be made meaningless. It depends on two things: the person who’s saying them and his or her intent. Let me give you an example.

As a writer, I spend a lot of time indoors. I’m 1/8th Cherokee, so I WOULD tan well if I saw the sun more often than I do. The rest of my ancestry is European. Basically, my skin is as white as the driven snow. Now I’m going to say a word and then dive for cover.

Nigger.

Man… I feel crappy even typing that. That word was used by white people to oppress black people for a very long time. My people used that word like a weapon, and boy was it an effective one. It was the neutron bomb of the English language for very long time. That word was used to cause shame, which is why I feel ashamed just saying it once.

However, the N-word (sorry… I can’t bring myself to type it again) is only a weapon when it’s used like one. Watch any movie, go to any club, walk down any street and you’ll hear black people saying it to one another, joking around, even using it like a term of endearment. It’s OK for them to say it because they ARE black. Not only that, but they aren’t saying it with the intent to harm.

For me to say it? Not really OK. I can probably get away with it this one time because my INTENT is not to harm, but to help. Or at least I’m hoping I can. If not, please accept my sincerest apology.

Being bipolar, the nature of our illness ensures that we’re a sensitive bunch, but let’s try not to be too sensitive about words. They can only harm us if we let them. Let’s start with the one I hate the most:

Freak.

Freak freak freak freak FREAK FREAK FREAK!!!

If I say that word out loud, over and over, it starts to sound like a nonsense word, something I just made up. The more I use it, the less it means. The less it means the less power it has over me.

Try it for yourself. Pick the one word you hate the most and say it over and over. Make that word just as dead as the not-a-planet Pluto - not a planetPluto. Just don’t forget that your word isn’t dead to everyone. If that word bothers someone else, don’t say it around them. It’s all about kindness, folks. It’s that simple.

Well, once again, I’m over word count. And I haven’t even mentioned one myth, but I may have just dispelled one.

Bipolar Myth #3 – Being bipolar makes you a bad person.

I’m bipolar. If I was a bad person, would I go through as much effort as I have to avoid offending the black community? I hate the N-word as much as I hate “freak.” I hate ANY word used to make someone else feel like a second-class citizen.

There are people out there who are scared of people with bipolar disorder because of the actions of a few select individuals. Yes, there are some people with bipolarity who really are mean, vicious people who are dangerous to others. But there are many more people like that who DON’T have bipolar disorder.

Bipolar ImageMost of us are just like you. Some of us, and I’m not naming names here, are sensitive, loving fathers who try not to let their daughters see them cry during Disney movies.

OK. It’s me. I do that. Pathetic, right? Well… this whole article has been about freeing yourself from shame, so I might as well come out of the closet. Disney movies make me cry sometimes. That fact may actually make me a freak. Having bipolar disorder, however, doesn’t.

Until next time, my fellow freaks… keep fighting!

-Bruce Anderson

Click the link to read more from Bruce Anderson: How I Became the  Freak in the Corner

Dispelling a Few Myths about Bipolar Disorder

Dispelling myths about Bipolar Disorder

Hello again, fellow wackos and electronic rubberneckers!Bipolar?

If you’re here because you’re like me—just a little “off”—then welcome. If you’re here to learn about bipolar disorder, stick around, because I know a thing or two and I like to talk. If you’re here to watch the train wreck happen, hoping I’ll melt down and post something crazy about the talking wombats that live in my refrigerator and their TV viewing habits… well, you’ll probably be a little disappointed. I may be a freak, but I’m not crazy.
Yeah, that’s right. I just called myself a freak. I figure if other people are going to call me that, I can probably get away with saying it myself. Wacko, nutcase, loony, psycho… There are lots of things people say about bipolar disorder, and many of them just aren’t true. Let’s take a look at a few of those things right now.

Bipolar Myth #1People with bipolar disorder aren’t really sick.
Bipolar SkelletonSome people say that bipolar disorder is “all in your head.” They say things like “everyone gets depressed. You just need to suck it up and deal with it like everyone else.” If this is true, then diabetics just need to get over their illness, too. I mean, too much sugar is bad for everyone, right?
Just as a diabetic’s body doesn’t process sugars properly, a person with bipolar disorder’s brain doesn’t process dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine quite right.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Take it from research scientists at the University of Michigan who’ve studied Abnormal Brain Chemistry Found in Bipolar Disorder. They know what they’re talking about.
I’m just some freak, remember?
So, you can tell me I don’t have a “real” disease and that I just need to deal with it, but first you gotta tell Ms. Diabetic to eat six Twinkies and deal with it. Go ahead. I’ll call 911 while she’s chewing.
This myth is so prevalent that insurance companies are allowed to treat it—or more accurately NOT treat it—like it isn’t a “real” disease. The last health insurance I had would pay for 80% of the bill if I had to have major surgery, but only 50% if I saw a doctor for bipolar disorder. Also, they limited the number of times I could see a doctor for treatment to 12 times a year. Tell you what… let’s limit diabetics to 12 insulin shots per year and see how well they do.
What? We shouldn’t do that because they could get sick and die?
Well, people with bipolar disorder die, too. In fact, without proper treatment, 20% of them commit suicide. That’s one in five, folks. I’d say that constitutes a serious health risk. Maybe this bipolar thing is a real disease after all.

Bipolar Myth #2People with bipolar disorder are beyond hope.
He’s got bipolar disorder. He’s crazy. He can’t be helped. He’s a lost cause. Or is he?
The fact is—he isn’t. Bipolar disorder is one of the EASIEST conditions to treat. There are several effective medications, some of which have been in use for quite a while. Lithium, for example, has been around since the 1950’s. Lithium doesn’t work for everyone, though. That’s why there’s Lamictal, Depakote, Zoloft, Tegretol, Wellbutrin, Prozac, Effexor, and a partridge in a pear tree. A psychiatrist can tinker with medications until he finds a combination that works.
Medications can help, but so can just talking. Talk therapy did me more good than any pill ever did. However, without the pills, I probably wouldn’t have listened to anything when I was at rock bottom.
The point is this: people with bipolar disorder CAN be helped. So if you have bipolar disorder or know someone who does, don’t give up. There is hope.
Well gang, it looks like I’m over word count. I told you I like to talk! We’ll talk some more next time when I dispel a few more myths about bipolar disorder.
So to all my friends and fellow freaks, until next time… keep fighting!

Bruce Anderson

Read more here: Words As Weapons And Another Bipolar Myth Dispelled

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

So, what causes Bipolar disorder?

It appears to be an interplay of genetic and physiological factors, coupled with stressful triggers, that causes Bipolar disorder…

Bipolar doctor

Manic depression, also called bipolar disorder, causes severe mood swings that can last for weeks or even months.

Everyone feels happy or sad sometimes. For someone with manic depression, however, these mood swings are much more intense. Scientists have not identified a single factor what causes bipolar disorder. Instead, it may have one or more of several different causes. These may be broken down into genetic, environmental and physiological causes.

There are three types of manic depression.

Bipolar Type I is characterized by at least one manic episode. A manic episode is a feeling of intense elation, restlessness and loss of inhibitions and over-activity. Sufferers during a manic episode may sleep for only three or four hours a night if at all.

Bipolar Type II, where there may be frequent episodes of depression with only mild manic episodes (called hypomania). Rapid cycling involves four or more mood swings over the period of a year.

Finally, there is Cyclothymia, where the mood swings last longer but they are less severe.

Genes is considered to be a contributing factor.

If one of your relatives has manic depression, there is a reasonable chance that you will develop it, too. Chromosome numbers 6 and 8 appear to have been implicated. Children of bipolar parents have an eight percent chance of developing the condition, compared with one percent in the general population.

A chemical imbalance in the brain may cause the disorder. Nerve signals travel from one neuron to another by way of chemicals called neurotransmitters. These include norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. It is possible that excess levels of norepinephrine may cause a manic episode.

During a depressive episode, levels of this neurotransmitter may be excessively low. The picture, however, is not that simple, as there are other neurotransmitters involved.

Mood swings can also be triggered by stress. Abuse; either physical, emotional or sexual, may trigger an episode. Bereavement or the breakdown of a close relationship may also be a trigger.

Not all stressful triggers are negative experiences. A positive change, such as a marriage or a birth can also make a contribution.

Once diagnosed, the condition can be treated or controlled, although certain risk factors may trigger a recurrence. Failure to comply with medication carries a high risk of recurrence, as do alcohol or drug abuse. Other risk factors include poor support systems. For example, the lack of caring friends or relatives or an erratic lifestyle.

Manic depression can lead to psychosocial disturbances.

For example, Bipolar Type I and Bipolar Type II are associated with a high absentee rate at work. There is also a higher rate of suicide attempts and hospital admissions with these conditions. While both conditions have high rates of attempted suicides, Type II sufferers seem to have fewer hospital admissions than Type I, and consequently miss fewer days at work.

So, what causes bipolar disorder? It appears to be an interplay of genetic and physiological factors, coupled with stressful triggers.

Complying with medication, adopting a stable lifestyle, and developing healthy coping strategies, may all keep the condition under control.

It is essential to consult a medical professional and not attempt self diagnosis.