Is it Bipolar II – or just plain Bipolar Disorder not yet recognized?
Google “Bipolar” on the “news” tab and see what you find. It is astounding how many semi-celebrities have come out and said “I have Bipolar Disorder”. Unfortunately, the story is often about Bipolar II, which somehow makes it “better”.
Bipolar Disorder is still a serious stigma – prevents people from getting jobs and such. Technically, as Bipolar Disorder is considered a disability, an employer who did not hire or fired an admitted bipolar patient based only on that fact would be in violation of the American Disabilities Act, but few people are willing to go to the carpet on that. Plus there is the little issue of being “able” to perform one’s job. I can perform a job if I am taking meds. If I am off of meds, I become highly unreliable with a lot of other liabilities – risky behavior that I have decided not to discuss.
Only a couple of years ago, I was warned by a well-meaning family member against posting too much on social media about Bipolar Disorder – and this in his mind included “liking” too many Bipolar pages. He was concerned about my ability to obtain a decent job. I don’t know if I have a “decent “job today – I have made my own way which works out better for me – no boss to annoy, no dress code, nobody else’s time clock. For the most part, I don’t worry about social media – I don’t think I will ever have a “real” job again – no more frequent flyer miles for me.
I was once diagnosed as Bipolar II – but really, both the doctor and the therapist thought differently – they both knew that I had regular Bipolar Disorder but wasn’t ready to accept it. Actually, I am pretty sure my doctor tricked me into taking Lithium for the first time by telling me that it would help boost my antidepressant activity.
In retrospect, I am astounded that I believed him since I know so much about medication – but I took the medication. How many of these people really have Bipolar I Disorder and just don’t say so.
It is much easier for people to say and accept that they have Bipolar II. In my opinion (which is obviously vast and knowledgeable – just kidding, no really), Bipolar II is a way of sliding by the real diagnosis. As in “I have Bipolar Disorder but not really”. “I have Bipolar Disorder but I am not crazy”. “I have Bipolar Disorder but I am not dangerous”. “I have Bipolar Disorder but I won’t embarrass you”.
When it gets down to it…wasn’t that true for all of us at one time? Or at least didn’t we believe it at one time? I still fit some of the criteria – I am “functional”, “productive”, “hypomanic” – except when I am not.
I often confuse my doctor when he asks how it is going by saying “good enough”. What I mean is that I am not manic exactly, I am not depressed. Actually it works better for me if I am teetering on the edge of mania. If I am just crazy enough that I know that I am crazy – then I will keep taking my meds. Because I forget.
I originally sought treatment for severe depression – depression bad enough that I had to decide whether to kill myself or study (I had a big exam the next day). In retrospect, I was actually in a mixed episode with plenty of energy but in a really bad mood. Oh, and then there was the slight issue of the hypnogogic hallucinations which I denied at the time. See, even if I know that I have Bipolar Disorder – Manic Depression – I still forget.
It would be easier for me to say that I have Bipolar Disorder but it is “just” Bipolar II. I thought that too.