1. Is a “Bipolar” Person Crazy or Misunderstood? Mostly Misunderstood. People with bipolar disorder are not usually crazy in the mind like they might appear, even to themselves. While those diagnosed Type I are prone to occasional delusions of paranoia, delusions of grandeur, and other moments of unreality, even they are mostly confused, lost in a world that can unpredictably shift between, or be combined with:

  • tenacious ruminations, hyper-awareness of reality, motivation, creativity, hyper-sexuality, inappropriate spending, frustration, euphoria, sleep irregularities, diet irregularities, and irritability, compounded by difficulty communicating their real concerns, questions, and pain that might appear insane to even caring listeners; and
  • the more common darkness and despairing melancholy of mood, mind, priorities, motivation, judgment, spirit, and social isolation.

Most people feel they can relate to bipolar depression; however, it isn’t just a bad mood, it isn’t just sadness, it isn’t just lack of motivation, nor is it something that can be walked or jogged off, nor does it respond well to therapy that can be effective with classical depression. Mostly, it’s something that stays with us in varying intensity, and it takes all we have to wait through it, much less complete basic chores like fetching the mail. Every molehill is a mountain, and death is often desirable as the ultimate relief.

Bipolar disorder is usually co-morbid with at least one other psychiatric diagnosis, such as PTSD, childhood PTSD/DID, Tourette Syndrome, panic disorder, OCD, and/or agoraphobia. These can all add to the perception of insanity, only because of innocuous but unusual behaviors associated with these, which are unique for each individual.

People with bipolar disorder are not necessarily irresponsible with their medications, as often assumed. All medications operate on our constantly shifting mood. Sometimes a stimulant is over-stimulating; sometimes an antipsychotic is overly mind-numbing, making us sleepy and ineffective, along with other side effects, such as long-term cognitive damage, organ damage, and weight gain.

2. Is bipolar disorder about two ends of one pole, or two poles? Neither. There is nothing binary about bipolar disorder; rather, it is a continuous juggling of stimuli and depressants for two continuously changing mood states:

Mood-altering causes, for better or for worse, which people with bipolar disorder struggle to monitor and regulate 24/7. Note the frequent contradictory results for various stimuli and conflicting needs depending on circumstances:
mood-calming stimuli depressing stimuli mood-lifting stimuli manic-inducing stimuli
(unpredictable) organic bipolar shift
social isolation social isolation active social relationships active social relationships
SSRI and SNRI medications antipsychotic meds benzo meds being forced off benzo meds
nicotine and cannabinoids alcohol nicotine and cannabinoids alcohol
paranoia paranoia paranoia anxiety-inducing circumstances
sharing, and feeling heard sharing, and misunderstood companionship perceived antagonism
transitional objects clouds lights overstimulation or stress
silence silence music or voices overwhelming sounds or sights
canceling an appointment anticipation of an event, even as minor as needing to fetch a parcel a productive appointment a plugged calendar
routine and organization routine and organization being organized without requiring routine routine and organization
any individual with bipolar disorder could add to this table


3. Are you crazy?—Most of the time, I feel like I am, but believe I am not. I usually make sense to myself, but often avoid (or ought to avoid) sharing or revealing things about myself, for fear of losing friends and burning bridges over disconnected communication, and the projected fears and stigmas of other adults. However, I’ve lost interest in the question, because in my world of confusion, my only solid truth, hope, and joy is in the one only Son of God.

As for my litany of misunderstood coping mechanisms, I won’t talk about them with very many people.

2 Thoughts to “Bipolar—Two Ends of a Pole, Two Poles? No!”

  1. Great description. Important blog.

    1. paulj

      Thank you Mark.

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