View Full Version : Understanding Bi Polar


Brooke85
11-11-13, 11:19 PM
I have a male friend with Bi-Polar. I'm not sure which type it is. He doesn't take medication for it, and hasnt during the time I've known him. He explained to me that basically he has learnt how to control it, without meds. He knows what to avoid, etc... I don't know if it is even possible to control Bi-Polar without meds, but he appears to do a pretty good job.

When he first told me, we were sort of dating, and I freaked out... Firstly at Bi-Polar, then at unmedicated Bi-Polar. I saw it as a big red flag, then ran. I'm sorry to everyone with Bi-Polar, I was ignorant and scared.

We have built a friendship since then. This guy is really special. He is so strong (he's usually the hero, and I'm the damsel in distress), he's intelligent, and hard working. He's gentle, sensitive, but still manly at the same time. I can tell him anything, and trust him with everything... If you can't tell, I'm crazy about him.

On the odd occasion, he does get into a mood... When i say 'mood', it doesn't appear to be severe, but I do pick up on it, and feel it pretty quickly. I can't actually tell if it's anger or saddness... It comes across as angry/down/withdrawn, lasts 3-5 days, happens rarely (kind of reminds me of just really bad PMS). During these times, instinct tells me to let him know I'm still here for him, but then give him space. I find this really difficult to do, cause all I want to do is hug him, and make everything better.

Am i doing the right thing with giving him space? I don't want it to come across to him like I don't care, or can't cope with him, etc.. I'm fine with it, this is just a small bump in the road. He puts up with lots of my crap, and I'm prepared to do the same with his.

Also, should I be looking for signs, before this mood happens? I'm yet to notice any patterns, the mood just happens abruptly.

I know I should be asking him this stuff, but I ruined it last time with my ignorance and judgement. I don't know how comfortable he is with talking about it, after that. There is no judgement. I just want to understand, and be supportive.

Reekwind
11-12-13, 01:45 AM
Are you sure he is Bi-polar and not borderline? Some people still call Borderline bi-polar, two quite similar but still very different things.

I'd try to find out If I were you so that you know what to expect and so that you get a chance to learn about it and how to help manage it in someone close to you. :)

someothertime
11-12-13, 01:52 AM
Your right about asking him. It's tough because you want to respect someone's nature and it often gets drawn into the "now" or "what exactly am i ding" or what's wrong with me" or "your treating me different because of the bi-polar/adhd"

I think it's good to develop some sort of system with these type of things, so each time around each person knows where it's at......

i.e. When your both feeling good just discuss a way you can let each other know your getting strong influences... Make it fun... Maybe name the disorder... like "gremlins"...

So you have these phrases between you...

"Do you need to go put the gremlins to bed?"
"My gummi bears are all excited today"
"I wanna give your gremlins a kick in the *****!"
"Is that you talking or is it Gizmo?"


Type of thing....


That's for the day to day........ Every so often you can sit each other down if you need to make some real and possibly confronting discussion about what's going on long term...

BellaVita
11-12-13, 01:58 AM
Your right about asking him. It's tough because you want to respect someone's nature and it often gets drawn into the "now" or "what exactly am i ding" or what's wrong with me" or "your treating me different because of the bi-polar/adhd"

I think it's good to develop some sort of system with these type of things, so each time around each person knows where it's at......

i.e. When your both feeling good just discuss a way you can let each other know your getting strong influences... Make it fun... Maybe name the disorder... like "gremlins"...

So you have these phrases between you...

"Do you need to go put the gremlins to bed?"
"My gummi bears are all excited today"
"I wanna give your gremlins a kick in the *****!"
"Is that you talking or is it Gizmo?"


Type of thing....


That's for the day to day........ Every so often you can sit each other down if you need to make some real and possibly confronting discussion about what's going on long term...

While it was funny to read, I think that naming it something silly may potentially be invalidating for the one experiencing it. Like the one pointing it out with the silly name thinks it's a joke, or no big deal, a silly matter when it's actually quite serious.

I also agree with Reekwind, to make sure it's Bipolar you're dealing with and NOT borderline. How you described him as the "hero" rescuing you sounds like typical idealistic borderline behavior to me. (Not necessarily on your end, I mean, for *him* to feel that way about himself and the situation.)

Reekwind
11-12-13, 02:16 AM
Yeah, the angry retreat- thing also made me wonder if it's Borderline and not Bi-polar.

It feels super hard to bring it up and I really have no right to get involved but, if he is borderline please be careful with what you get yourself into! People with BPD aren't evil or bad people but they are so hurt and fragile that they, sadly, usually end up hurting those they love. BPD is a serious condition and cannot be cured with love alone, it requires a lot of therapy for a long period of time!

I hope this doesn't offend you, I'm just concerned! :)

Brooke85
11-12-13, 02:26 AM
Its defintely Bi Polar, not BPD.. I asked questions when it first came up, made sure it was just Bi Polar

BellaVita
11-12-13, 02:27 AM
Yeah, the angry retreat- thing also made me wonder if it's Borderline and not Bi-polar.

It feels super hard to bring it up and I really have no right to get involved but, if he is borderline please be careful with what you get yourself into! People with BPD aren't evil or bad people but they are so hurt and fragile that they, sadly, usually end up hurting those they love. BPD is a serious condition and cannot be cured with love alone, it requires a lot of therapy for a long period of time!

I hope this doesn't offend you, I'm just concerned! :)

Quoting this, as what Reekwind said is true and significant.

BellaVita
11-12-13, 02:28 AM
Its defintely Bi Polar, not BPD.. I asked questions when it first came up, made sure it was just Bi Polar

Ah, okay. (There's always a chance it's both, too. Just to throw that out there. :) )

BellaVita
11-12-13, 02:35 AM
Okay, honestly, I don't think it's a good idea for him to go without meds. He may be under the illusion that he's got it controlled - but he doesn't.

I'm guessing that the angry bits are dysphoric hypomania. But I'm no doctor, of course.

Does he ever take his anger out on you? If so, that's a big red flag and I would refrain from getting into a relationship with him, unless he gets himself medicated and perhaps the anger will die down a bit. (Not saying he has bad anger - I couldn't tell from your post.)

He sounds to me like he needs better coping strategies. He can't hide from his bipolar forever. One day an episode WILL pop up, and if he's not careful it could ruin him.

Does he experience psychosis that you know of?

Brooke85
11-12-13, 02:38 AM
Hang on, when i say he appears angry, its what I see as angry, because he isnt talking me (I usually assume he's angry with me)... Its more just quiet, withdrawn doing his own thing, not his usual self... If i push and push during this time, he's likely to get mad. Even when he's mad, he doesn't act aggresss, he just ignores me. He's usually very patient, I can be high maintence, annoy him, push and push, and he just puts up with it, takes it in his stride.

BellaVita
11-12-13, 02:42 AM
Hang on, when i say he appears angry, its what I see as angry, because he isnt talking me (I usually assume he's angry with me)... Its more just quiet, withdrawn doing his own thing, not his usual self... If i push and push during this time, he's likely to get mad. Even when he's mad, he doesn't act aggresss, he just ignores me. He's usually very patient, I can be high maintence, annoy him, push and push, and he just puts up with it, takes it in his stride.

Ah, okay. That actually sounds like my boyfriend lol. (He does that, too)

Okay good. So not letting his anger out on you. Got it.

someothertime
11-12-13, 04:39 AM
OK, let me say what I was trying to say a little clearer.

Often interactions are a soup of influences. When another person is "different" to how we expect them to be... or has certain behaviors that are in opposition to how we expect them to be... What has a tendancy to happen is that all sorts of conflicts arise from this, when often the person exhibiting the behavior has no control over it.


What I was eluding to was to know what's in the soup... i.e. instead of saying the soup is sour... ask if it's the gherkin that makes it that way. And if there is no way of knowing, be able to negotiate with the restaurant without offending them as to how you interpret it and whether that's what was intended.

Most times it just about your awareness. Eating the good bits from the soup and ignoring / leaving alone the bits that don't go down so well with you ( proving it's not causing you harm ).

Then rarely, you gotta give the restaurant some delicate input/feedback if something is just not doing them any favours with regard to your custom. It's important this is given more like a question than an absolute thing. Often our receptions mislead us and it's as much about you learning that it is them.

Most importantly, forgiveness and trying things (alterning activities, time of day, who chooses what..... think laterally )... ( pattern words as above, pushing through, honouring the space etc. ) and BOTH PEOPLE getting to have a say in the friendship. For instance, when you each talk or see each other....you might give a score out of 10 about how your travelling that day..... Promotes openness, self awareness and communication.

sarahsweets
11-12-13, 05:14 AM
I have never met someone with active bipolar that didnt need meds.

Brooke85
11-12-13, 06:46 AM
Can someone with Bi-Polar give me a run down of what it's like to have it, or is each person different?

I can't even begin to know how to bring up taking medication. I'd feel like I was preaching about something, that I really know nothing about.

I just feel sooo uncomfortable talking to him about it. At the moment, it doesn't get mentioned at all. I think he sees it as a weakness. I don't want to make him feel bad.

daveddd
11-12-13, 07:09 AM
its mostly different

true manic episodes are kind of rare, but they are wild

it felt like i was given the key to the universe

it ended in rage

my depression is the agitated type, i hate everything and everyone

im unmedicated now, and im ok

fracturedstory
11-14-13, 11:06 PM
When I get dysphoric mania, soon to be depression, I withdraw, go quiet and can't even stand being around people because they overstimulate me. The crowding around, the sounds and even being in a messy room is over whelming to me.

During this time people usually badger me about something (usually my bipolar sister who's experiencing her constant 6 month hypomanic high - sarcasm...she has more hypomania than me for longer than me) and I just break. Usually I start yelling a bunch of stuff.

People with bipolar can go through a period of symptom remission but eventually they'll start finding the symptoms harder to control.

Speaking of really bad pms I have severe pms (PMDD) and I spent about a week trying not to kill myself and having strange manic episodes where I thought my personality was changing.

For me bipolar is about very extreme fluctuations in mood. I get shorter moods than most people, however 6-7 days of almost constant depression was unusual for me. Mania has never lasted longer than 4 days for me.

During mania I get anxiety, agitation (very impatient when dealing with normally low stress situations), start coming up with creative ideas, want to do 10 things at once, might have some weird delusions and hallucinations - nothing too severe - however earlier I thought the woman across the road was spying on me. I can become very arrogant too and hypersexual.

Then it turns into depression where I experience just a slowing down of my thoughts, a lack of motivation to even do basic things, a crippling sadness, then emptiness, and often thinking suicidal thoughts in my own highly visual story teller type of way. There's motor slowness too. My whole body feels like it's in recovery mode from the last manic episode, although it depression can trigger prematurely.

I have mixed episodes too which to me is when I experience many emotions so quickly it's like they're just part of the same mood. All I can really do is sit/stand/lie there and hold my head that is in agony.

It's different for everyone though, but it's mostly about the highs and lows. Usually, people have symptom relief by having normal moods. I'm still trying to work out whether I have normal moods at all, or Borderline as well. I relate a little to the symptoms but I think I ruin my relationships. I do know someone like that though.

After my last depression I really felt like I need medication but my doctor doesn't think I need it. I can survive without medication but it will make a whole lot of things better. I could get a normal job, commit to something that takes more than a few hours to complete and get along with people better. The suicidal thoughts during depression are just unbearable especially when you add some PMDD in there. 7 days of it. That's not really pms - that's present menstrual stress. I get symptoms for about two weeks.

Brooke85
11-15-13, 12:21 AM
When I get dysphoric mania, soon to be depression, I withdraw, go quiet and can't even stand being around people because they overstimulate me. The crowding around, the sounds and even being in a messy room is over whelming to me.

During this time people usually badger me about something (usually my bipolar sister who's experiencing her constant 6 month hypomanic high - sarcasm...she has more hypomania than me for longer than me) and I just break. Usually I start yelling a bunch of stuff.

People with bipolar can go through a period of symptom remission but eventually they'll start finding the symptoms harder to control.

Speaking of really bad pms I have severe pms (PMDD) and I spent about a week trying not to kill myself and having strange manic episodes where I thought my personality was changing.

For me bipolar is about very extreme fluctuations in mood. I get shorter moods than most people, however 6-7 days of almost constant depression was unusual for me. Mania has never lasted longer than 4 days for me.

During mania I get anxiety, agitation (very impatient when dealing with normally low stress situations), start coming up with creative ideas, want to do 10 things at once, might have some weird delusions and hallucinations - nothing too severe - however earlier I thought the woman across the road was spying on me. I can become very arrogant too and hypersexual.

Then it turns into depression where I experience just a slowing down of my thoughts, a lack of motivation to even do basic things, a crippling sadness, then emptiness, and often thinking suicidal thoughts in my own highly visual story teller type of way. There's motor slowness too. My whole body feels like it's in recovery mode from the last manic episode, although it depression can trigger prematurely.

I have mixed episodes too which to me is when I experience many emotions so quickly it's like they're just part of the same mood. All I can really do is sit/stand/lie there and hold my head that is in agony.

It's different for everyone though, but it's mostly about the highs and lows. Usually, people have symptom relief by having normal moods. I'm still trying to work out whether I have normal moods at all, or Borderline as well. I relate a little to the symptoms but I think I ruin my relationships. I do know someone like that though.

After my last depression I really felt like I need medication but my doctor doesn't think I need it. I can survive without medication but it will make a whole lot of things better. I could get a normal job, commit to something that takes more than a few hours to complete and get along with people better. The suicidal thoughts during depression are just unbearable especially when you add some PMDD in there. 7 days of it. That's not really pms - that's present menstrual stress. I get symptoms for about two weeks.


Thank you so much :)

Ok, so.. (tried to make these questions as clear as I can, to avoid misunderstanding. My apologies in advance, if I've said anything that comes across as insensitive, or if I've used the incorrect jargon, etc..)

When you're experiencing an episode, are you able to control yourself? I don't mean control the mood, I mean are you able to control your actions, caused by the episode?

Is the duration of an episode/mood always the same for a person, or does it change in length?

What sort of stuff 'triggers' an episode/mood?

Do you get warning before experiencing an episode/mood, or does it just come abruptly, out of no where?

Are you able to recognise when you're having an episode/mood?

When someone is experiencing an episode/mood, can I still take what they say at face value, or are they likely making promises that they wont be able to keep, or will no longer feel the same about something, when the episode/mood has finished, etc..?

I'll let you if I think of anymore,

Cheers

peripatetic
11-15-13, 12:22 AM
Am i doing the right thing with giving him space? I don't want it to come across to him like I don't care, or can't cope with him, etc.. I'm fine with it, this is just a small bump in the road. He puts up with lots of my crap, and I'm prepared to do the same with his.

Also, should I be looking for signs, before this mood happens? I'm yet to notice any patterns, the mood just happens abruptly.

I know I should be asking him this stuff, but I ruined it last time with my ignorance and judgement. I don't know how comfortable he is with talking about it, after that. There is no judgement. I just want to understand, and be supportive.

tell him this
and ask him how he will feel most supported

have faith in your friendship with him
and trust in his desire to be friends with you and to share his life with you
be brave enough to broach the subject
though i'd suggest maybe try to do it when he's not having as much going on

and here's why:
there's knowing the diagnostic criteria and reading up on and learning how others experience the world by getting their thoughts
and then there's knowing how the person you care about experiences the world, what things are meaningful to that person and listening to try and understand what you can do or not do

i don't have bipolar myself and so have been in what's perhaps a position similar to the one you find yourself in now
and each person i know/have known with a bipolar diagnosis--or any diagnosis i don't have and even those i do--is different
i've ended up, by necessity, reading a lot of research and even now... i know people with bipolar and what it looks like in/for them...but not what bipolar looks like universally, if that makes sense

how things manifest in an individual's life...there's so much variance that going in with pre established ideas might obscure the person you're trying to help
supporting the person in your life you care about is going to require you to hear what his needs are...where he is with his mental illness...and there's no one-size-fits-all in these matters

some people are going to have periods where they want space and will find you when ready
some are going to begin to isolate at times and though they'd never voice it during those times, the single best thing one can offer in support is just a regular check in to combat the negative thought patterns, and they value that even if they can't say so at the time
some are going to want to just have someone who will listen, distract them, reassure...do all of that...do something else entirely...

bipolar is often something that creates mood disturbance for "no apparent reason", but can be exacerbated or certainly not helped by any number of factors...
what might be difficult is learning how little influence you can have at times when you might want to have a lot

some people respond well to having patterns brought to their notice
others...not so much

whether and how you can help him when he's struggling is going to be something that he needs to be willing to share with you...even if it's something that's to be determined because he might not know what would help, if anything
i can only suggest being patient as you navigate this together... it's probably a lot more complex than it might appear from your current vantage point

if he isn't open to discussing...and by "discussing" i mean more him talking and you asking for clarification and not so much you offering advice or wanting to "resolve" things...then all you can really do is respect that and let him know that should he want to ...you are there and interested in supporting in whatever way you're able.

you certainly come across as sincerely caring for him and he sounds like a great guy...give him a chance to let you in
i've literally not met a single person who both cared for someone and refused to forgive moments of ignorance when offered a genuine apology
i think you have a great opportunity here to make a fresh start on the subject and strengthen your friendship by learning more about each other

best wishes to you both x

peripatetic
11-15-13, 12:41 AM
Can someone with Bi-Polar give me a run down of what it's like to have it, or is each person different?

I can't even begin to know how to bring up taking medication. I'd feel like I was preaching about something, that I really know nothing about.

I just feel sooo uncomfortable talking to him about it. At the moment, it doesn't get mentioned at all. I think he sees it as a weakness. I don't want to make him feel bad.

i just saw this bit and until you know a lot more about him and his experience i cannot strongly enough encourage you to avoid broaching the medication topic.
if he wants to discuss treatment, he almost surely will
it's the one line of inquiry that can divide more than bridge


as i said above, i don't have bipolar

but i do have a history of treatment discontinuation and more than a small chip on my shoulder about it
and there's almost nothing a person could say to poison the well with me more quickly and perhaps more longlastingly than to start asking questions about my meds
*especially* if i'm not taking them--because that's a decision...and it sounds like he's made a decision not to take meds...it would be different if he had his insurance cut and is trying to figure out treatment or something of that nature

i can't speak for everyone, and he might not mind it as much, but people who don't take medication, or engage in any number of treatments, have reasons and more often than not meet a lot of opposition to their decision
i personally loathe people, especially people who aren't in the same boat, suggesting this or that or arguing in favor of something they aren't faced with
there's a lot that he can share and for you to learn apart from treatment concerns or refusal, etc
if i were a betting person i'd say odds are best to not have that be a topic you initiate
if you do bring it up and he balks...i suggest backing off in a big way and not pressing

my point: medication can be a touchy subject for a lot of people and as i said above, the key is listening to him and not having a goal apart from understanding his experience and what he would find supportive

fracturedstory
11-15-13, 12:45 AM
Thank you so much :)

Ok, so.. (tried to make these questions as clear as I can, to avoid misunderstanding. My apologies in advance, if I've said anything that comes across as insensitive, or if I've used the incorrect jargon, etc..)

When you're experiencing an episode, are you able to control yourself? I don't mean control the mood, I mean are you able to control your actions, caused by the episode?

Is the duration of an episode/mood always the same for a person, or does it change in length?

What sort of stuff 'triggers' an episode/mood?

Do you get warning before experiencing an episode/mood, or does it just come abruptly, out of no where?

Are you able to recognise when you're having an episode/mood?

When someone is experiencing an episode/mood, can I still take what they say at face value, or are they likely making promises that they wont be able to keep, or will no longer feel the same about something, when the episode/mood has finished, etc..?

I'll let you if I think of anymore,

Cheers

I can sometimes control my actions if I realise what's happening and take myself out of a situation. And this is more likely to work if I don't aggravate my symptoms with alcohol or caffiene, or I'm not under too much stress already. I suppose a good night's sleep goes a long way too.

the duration is usually the same but in mixed episodes can shorten and sometimes can go longer. It depends on a number of factors. Drugs and alcohol can knock things way out of whack. I had a few weeks of mania where I'd go out to gigs constantly, crash hard, stop and go out again over the next few weeks. It's starting up again too. Band photography is a part of what I do so it's not a complete waste of time.

What triggers a mood can be different from person to person. With me it's when people I care a lot about seem to ignore me, especially when I want to talk to someone but we barely know each other and I really don't know how I'm going to talk to them. Basically, they're a crush. For me it can also be when my photography feels under appreciated. When people don't realise that certain symptoms keep me under a lot of stress and I can't control how I behave on them, like noise sensitivity or the fact I don't adjust well to change.

I've got quite a lot of triggers. Getting into silly arguments are probably the most common.

I can tell when I'm going to be depressed. I'm not so good at hypomania. Yesterday I was feeling giddy, silly and like I was going through a burn out from all the stress I was under before, then boom - hypomanic. I suppose not being able to sleep and getting motivated to do projects are kind of signs. I'm just not really good at picking up on them when they happen.

I'm now aware when I have moods. Before I really didn't know what was going on. I thought I had some type of brain damage.

I know from dealing with my sister that what is said doesn't really matter too much later and personally I seem to forget how I acted or why I acted that way in the first place, until a similar mood comes back. It's still really hard for me to work out. I'm really over reactive to her angry moods but I don't want to take them to heart because later she will be fine. But we don't exactly talk about it so we're not aware of what we're thinking about.

I just know that if you act as though it doesn't matter during that person's mood episode, there's going to be trouble.