What Bipolar Depression Feels Like… and How to Live Through It
Have you wondered what bipolar depression feels like? Do you have a friend or family member who is diagnosed with this condition? There are several preconceived notions about what it means to live with bipolar depression. Living with the condition does not mean you cannot live your life to the fullest.
What is Bipolar Depression?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder is, “A brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”
What this means is that someone who experiences bipolar depression struggles with feeling extreme lows and extreme highs, or mania. During these low points, everything slows down or just stops. You have no energy to for anything, let alone the things that bring you joy and happiness. Needless to say, bipolar depression makes it very difficult to function consistently on a day-by-day basis.
Other Symptoms of Bipolar Depression
Besides not having any energy, other symptoms of bipolar depression include:
- Sleep issues: sleeping too much or not enough
- Difficulty staying focused
- Lower levels of activity
- Inability to experience happiness.
- Persistent worry
- Trouble remembering things.
- Eating problems: eating too much or not enough
- Feelings of deep sadness
- Thoughts of suicide or dying
This list shows how bipolar depression is more than feeling down. It is like being trapped in a pit and not having the energy or will to be able to get out.
What Bipolar Depression Feels Like
One person able to describe what it’s like to live with bipolar depression is Ellen Forney. She wrote and illustrated a graphic novel describing what it’s like to live with the condition. Some of those images were republished in a piece in the Huffington Post. One striking panel shows a figure getting out of bed, dragging a blanket into another room, then lying down on a couch to sleep again.
Another panel in Forney’s novel features an image of a carousel with eight figures ranging from mania on the far left, a balanced state in the center, to depression on the far right. The final figure is depicted as not riding a carousel horse, but lying by the horse, asleep.
How to Live Through Bipolar Depression
If you experience a period of bipolar depression, there are several things you can do. Try to:
- Know yourself well and become more of aware when you experience shifts in mood towards bipolar depression.
- Make a note of any suicidal thoughts, a real danger for bipolar sufferers. Get help immediately when they occur. Immediately contact your mental health professional, a medical doctor, or even just going to the emergency room.
- See your therapist, even if all you can do is get out of bed.
- Don’t isolate yourself. This just makes the risk of suicide worse. Maintain contact with your therapist, a friend, or even a support group.
Doing Your Best Living with Bipolar Depression
You may not be able to avoid periods of depression, but there is a lot you can do to be ready and lessen its effects. Try the following:
- Take medication and stick to the drug regimen.
- Learn all you can about the condition and its effects.
- Stay healthy by exercising and eating nutritious foods.
- Avoid foods and beverages that affect mood, such as coffee.
- Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs.
Not everyone knows what bipolar depression feels like. Nor is it your fault that you have bipolar depression. When you are in those lows it can seem as if everything’s hopeless and that you have no control over it. However, you do control over how prepared you are for these depressive episodes. Through medication, counseling, and a healthy lifestyle, you can be ready. You can still live your life well, even with bipolar depression!