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Breaking Bipolar

Natasha Tracy
If you have bipolar disorder, there's a good chance you've wondered, "Is it my fault I have bipolar disorder?" In my experience, most of us wonder this at some point, usually early after diagnosis -- I know I certainly did. There are multiple reasons this seems to come up for people. If you're wondering if your bipolar disorder is your fault, read on.
Natasha Tracy
It's hard to know how bad a bipolar episode is when you're living it. That's because it's your brain that is sick. It is your perception that is skewed. Other people may look at you and think it's clear how sick you are and how truly bad a bipolar episode is, but these people are fundamentally missing the problem: you're so sick that you can't see how sick you are.
Natasha Tracy
Sometimes, you can't get to a doctor's appointment because you're just too sick. You might have too much anxiety to leave the house. You might be too depressed to get out of bed. You might be incapacitated by mental illness to the point where you can't get to a doctor's appointment when you need it the absolute most. This is a real barrier to mental health care that some people face. Read on for tips on what to do next.
Natasha Tracy
Recently, I've had to talk about bipolar as a disability way too much. I talk about it online as part of my advocacy work, but that's not the issue. I have no trouble talking about it in general. The issue is talking about my bipolar as a disability in real life. The issue is talking about it to a psychiatrist, to a family doctor, to a nurse practitioner, to whomever I need to in order to get the help I need.
Natasha Tracy
Sometimes sleep is the only escape from depression in bipolar disorder. I know that sounds bleak, but it's true. Depression can be a horrifically painful, possibly lethal and endlessly attacking illness. Severe depression can feel unbearable to live with. That's why people are looking for an escape. It's completely natural. And while, for the average person just experiencing sadness, escape might be found through a myriad of things, sometimes sleep is the only escape from depression.
Natasha Tracy
Because of bipolar and depression, I have a lack of motivation. Lack of motivation is not technically a symptom of depression according to the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition" ("DSM-5"), but in my experience, it's highly correlated. I must admit, I harshly judge this as being a personal flaw. Here's a look at how depression and a lack of motivation are linked and how a lack of motivation isn't really a personal flaw at all.
Natasha Tracy
I think hot weather makes bipolar disorder worse. It seems to do this in multiple ways. Some of this is my opinion, while some of it is based on evidence. Regardless, though, hot weather definitely makes my bipolar worse.
Natasha Tracy
Bipolar often makes me very irritated, and I suggest you not talk to me about it. Okay, I'm just kidding about that last part, but what I will say is that when I'm highly irritated because of bipolar disorder, I don't want to talk about it or anything else. And while irritation doesn't sound like the worst bipolar symptom, I can attest to the fact that it definitely impacts one's quality of life.
Natasha Tracy
Let me start by saying I'm not against bipolar disorder support groups. Actually, I recommend them to people and think they can be very helpful. That doesn't mean there aren't drawbacks, however. One of those drawbacks is the spreading of misinformation in bipolar disorder support groups. If you participate in bipolar disorder support groups, it's something you absolutely want to watch out for.
Natasha Tracy
If you've been interacting with doctors as a person with bipolar disorder for more than about a week, you've probably learned the fact that you have to repeat your bipolar story to every doctor under the sun. It's unbelievably frustrating. Mental health professionals treat you like you have never described your bipolar disorder to another person. This is almost never the case. Usually, doctors are asking about your bipolar disorder in front of a huge file outlining your history with bipolar disorder. And repeating your bipolar story over and over is distressing and isn't something we should have to do.