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High-Functioning Bipolar Disorder

January 17, 2011 Natasha Tracy

I have 'high-functioning' bipolar disorder so people think I'm not mentally ill. But the ability to function in public comes at the price of private pain.

Sometimes people don’t believe I’m particularly sick. They meet me, I look fine, I interact, I charm, I wit and all seems, if not normal, at least something reasonably normal adjacent.

And that’s fine. It’s by design. Being a high-functioning mentally ill person, I can’t really afford to run around with my hair on fire. But faking normalcy, happiness and pleasure is a tricky and very expensive bit of business.

Being a “high-functioning” bipolar doesn’t really have a definition, per se. The term indicates that I’m not in a mental hospital, and I do things like live on my own, pay rent, work and whatnot. I would suggest that being “high-functioning” seems to indicate that I can fake not being a crazy person.

High-Functioning Bipolar Weekdays...

It’s really important that I be able to put my bipolar on the shelf. I have to be able to put the crazy away so that I can talk to people, engage in business, produce technical documentation, write articles and so on. I wrote about 12,000 words last week for clients. You can’t do that if you’re pondering where on your wrist the best place to slice is.

...Followed by Low-Functioning Bipolar Weekends

I have 'high-functioning' bipolar disorder so people think I'm not mentally ill. But the ability to function in public comes at the price of private pain.

The trouble is, using all my control, sanity and energy during the week to try and produce enough work to pay my rent then leaves me with a really large deficit when I’m not working. I’m crazy. Remember? Not normal? I’m just faking the normal. And faking normal requires more effort than you can possibly imagine.

So then, as soon as I’m not working, I break into a thousand pieces all over the tiles on my kitchen floor.

Sure, you go out Friday night with friends. My Friday night is usually spent fairly catatonic trying desperately not to get suicidal.

Bipolar, High-Functioning Or Low, Is Exhausting

As I see it, everyone has a similar tank of energy. We expend that energy in lots of ways. We run after kids, we go to the office, we jump out of planes. All fine uses of energy. Me, on the other hand, I spend a massive amount of energy just trying to keep my brain in one place. I have almost no energy, or brain left, outside of that.

I Give Up a Life to Survive

I do know wonderful people and I do adore them. But that doesn’t overcome the inertia of having every drop of energy sucked from me so I can pay rent. So all the appearance of my functioning is paid for by utter decimation and exhaustion the rest of the time. I don’t have energy or brain space left to read, see friends, date or do pretty much anything else. The last thing I want to do is leave the house. I want to sleep. Forever. And ever.

Bipolar Sucks the Life You Don’t See

I’m the least fun person in the world. I work. I sleep. I have a schedule. I keep that schedule. I’m tired. I make excuses not to go out. I’m sort of the lamest person ever.

But that’s the mental illness sucking the life out of my ears. I want to go out. I want to see my friends. I want to do something fun. I want to have a drink with you after work. I just can’t. I’m too tired.

So yes. I’m capable. I’m talented. I work hard. I produce stuff. Yay me. But the price I pay for that is not being able to be anything else.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2011, January 17). High-Functioning Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2011/01/high-functioning-bipolar-disorder



Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Bluefirefly
says:
May, 13 2018 at 7:14 pm
"High Functioning Bipolar?" Personally, I was living with the "I'm just fine" part. I had a job in IT. Operations Management. I rocked my job. The Queen of troubleshooting anything on any network. Throw it at me. But then, there was that one psychotic manic episode that just did me in. I think it burned my brain. Up until then, I was also so high functioning that I didn't really believe I was bipolar at all. I could do every day. A belief that stopped me from taking any medication or seeing a doctor, because I just didn't believe it to be true. Or maybe it even went away. No one educated me as to what bipolar really was. Shame on the medical community. Now I no longer have my job of 23+ years and I'm on disability. I hate this "new" life.
Ktp
says:
April, 25 2018 at 12:16 pm
I know exactly how you feel because I do the same everyday and the minute I clock out it’s like I’m clocking out every last bit of energy I had to muster to get through the day to be as normal as I can to people in order to keep my job which I love and pay my bills. So your not alone ! Sometimes I wonder how I was even able to drive home.
Cindy
says:
March, 11 2018 at 1:56 pm
So true. I keep saying I don't feel like "me" anymore and from reading the comments I understand now that I am going through the motions just to get through each and every day. It takes a lot of work to manage my bipolar brain as I always say. I know how I feel inside but really couldn't pinpoint why I felt in a flat robotic state with no spike up or down with my emotions. I keep wishing for myself back but I have to weigh the consequences of not taking meds or managing this illness. Thanks everyone for your insight.
Richard
says:
February, 17 2018 at 3:54 pm
As i’m Reading this I am awe struck! I’m seeing a brain that literally is this web of electrical misfiring with no grey matter, just one big net of electrical circuitry that lights up randomly and has no decision. I have an associate that fits Natasha’s words to a Perfect fit. My heart sinks fathoms and wish I knew how to fix! One thing I do know is when the medicine is on board-I see a person who is able to move through the day high functioning with excellent business results. She can not afford the medicine and as a result fighting for her life beyond what is considered normal. I ask myself , Does President Trump know and understand or even care? Someone has got to be made aware of this gross travesty!! When one does not have the means to provide for their health and well- being, that is not acceptable in my heart and makes me venomously angry. As we know having a constant level in one’s system is key and one must have the assurance that they WILL HAVE medicines to do and keep that in place so they can be ALL THEY WANT. Surely there is in this United States of Americathe ability to Provide the Needed Medicines!!!
viv
says:
January, 28 2018 at 2:08 am
Wow! so good to see written down what has been going on in my brain. i can "function" but it takes every ounce of my energy and leaves me depleted. I cant do any more, see any future possibilities other than getting htrough this day. thanks natasha for being brave enough to speak our truths.
Beth
says:
January, 9 2018 at 4:40 am
Oh my. This is so on target. Living just sucks the live right out of me. Just to fake it through the week. Thank you for putting into words.
Rick B
says:
December, 18 2017 at 9:24 am
What do you do if you have been misdiagnosed as being bipolar? I am highly intelligent and functioning. After finding out last year that I have type 2 diabetes or had high blood sugar. NOBODY explained what my blood sugar levels should be and since they did not I refused insulin. Law enforcement threatened my wife with incarceration for not properly caring for me if she didn't sign the Baker's Act paperwork. They held me 8 days to cover up what law enforcement improperly did. Now I have a "diagnosis" of being bipolar. No signs, no symptoms and in NO way affected as you all have been. How do you get this totally removed? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Vanessa
says:
September, 4 2019 at 12:37 am
How can the diagnosis harm you? I did not agree in 2015 that I was high functioning bipolar and went to a neurologist who agreed this was adult add and put me on adderrall. It changed my life. A diagnosis does not mean the end?
Judi Johnson
says:
December, 13 2017 at 4:10 pm
My husband is high functioning but refuses to believe he has bipolar disorder. Even though he was diagnosed 35 years ago, recently a new doctor said he's not bipolar because he's been able to keep a job all these years. I'm so frustrated! My husband lives in hypomania-land and likes it there. I don't know what to do. At this point, I'm inclined to let him crash. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
says:
December, 14 2017 at 3:49 am
Hi Judi,

I have written on this topic on my personal blog. It is not associated with HealthyPlace. You can find it here: https://natashatracy.com/mental-illness-issues/person-mental-illness-accept-illness/

You may find that helpful.

- Natasha Tracy
Vicki
says:
November, 9 2017 at 2:39 am
This is so relatable and I am thankful that it was written. We all need support, even if we don't feel like going out and getting it, just knowing that we can read about it in our pajamas helps immensely.
Grace Parsons
says:
November, 5 2017 at 3:38 am
I am one of those extremely emotional females taking everything that's said or happens as a catastrophic event, leading to many many tears. Of course it's my thoughts that brings all this on. My biggest issue is with my 20 year old son who is living with me at the present time. He wants to be in his own place. He told me yesterday that he can't forget about things that happened while he was growing up; and looking back, neither can I.
Emma
says:
September, 11 2017 at 7:44 pm
Wonderful!
I just hope that you can add some details on how to be high- functioning. I loved the web and I hope that I can write articles like this one with you. Is there a way?
Thanks a lot.
Emma
says:
September, 11 2017 at 7:41 pm
Wonderful!
April
says:
September, 9 2017 at 4:11 pm
Wow, this is me. I was diagnosed with depression years ago, and just thought it was brought on by stress. Recently I was diagnosed as being bipolar after a suicide attempt. It came as a shock to everyone. This article is definatley me. I look back and see the mania now and the depressive episodes. I function as I should at work but I go home and just collapse.
Jose
says:
August, 31 2017 at 2:35 pm
Hi Natasha, I'm also bipolar and also a writer. I don't think I write as much as you. I think the most I've written in one day is 2500, 3000 words, probably followed by a day of rest (I write essays for college students :P) . Fortunately I work online, at home, that makes things possible. I also want to be entirely functional, but its hard in terms of having to be in -the zone- managing side effects, dosing, etc. Great post!
Brenna
says:
July, 12 2017 at 12:09 pm
I was diagnosed BPI at 20, right smack in the middle of university. If anything explains just where I was, after being awake for three days without taking my
Contacts out, they were basically glued to my corneas. Hurricane Floyd was about to hit us, and I hadn't gotten any message or email aimed at commuters , though my friends who lived on campus had been warned. So, completely manic, unable to see, I was going to drive 30 miles in a hurricane so I could Lois Lane my school newspaper and get the story. My poor, dear, frightened younger brother didn't have a license, but he wouldn't let me go alone. So, I drove along cackling at the storm while my brother yelled directions to avoid flying tree branches and get me back in one lane. I wrote the story, changed the school policy and was the first student at my school to win a first place editorial AP award. This is how I see it now, as an adult facing my own cognitive impairments and the recognition that I'll ever get that back. There's a quiet grief that comes to all of us eventually, I think. Not talking crisis or even an episode, but an understanding of all the pieces we've lost along the way, either in episode or not. I'll never get it back, but my life is controlled, disciplined and defiant. There's no other choice, really.
Teresa Cosme Lopes
says:
June, 6 2017 at 8:51 pm
I cannot agree more with this text. Besides in denial, after being hypo what it's left are some little pieces to pull back again. I do not have social life because it triggers unexpected hypo, and after producing for 3 people I Just feel extremely tired that I have to lay down in bed. On meds and weekly CBT....:(. Thanks for your article.
Nancy p
says:
June, 4 2017 at 10:56 pm
I am 70 years old and been high functioning most of my life. Looking back I can see the consequences of faking it and being successful through the pain. After 20 years in a great and successful career, I couldn't hold it together for a new manipulative boss. I just tried harder and was fired. I have repeated that pattern in other situations. Let the driven hypo make me look energetic and too get her only to fail when anxiety and depression marched in. High functioning can be confusing to partners and kids. You want to protect them from unloving and sensitivities that comes with depression. So you fake it and when those close to you find out , I feel I am not normal and never will be good enough
Angela
says:
June, 1 2017 at 8:47 pm
Jesus, I feel like I just read a biography about my life. I spend all my energy just trying to keep the "crazy" tucked away that it leaves me exhausted and numb more often than not. I'm so high-functioning that I can fool most people, and sometimes that just feels fraudulent. But the alternative is that I wouldn't be socially acceptable.
Silvia Granger
says:
April, 12 2017 at 6:30 pm
Yes I am a High-Functioning Bipolar too. Often I feel excactly how you described it. The worst part thought is when you at work and the utter stress gets to you and you break done and listening to people's comments that you have to stop being so sentimental or takes things not so personal. [modreated] It is unbelievable how glueless and inconsiderate some people are. Just wished they could walk for one day in our shoes, I believe they would not survive the week. Yes it is also a very lonely world out there when you just barely able to breath. Yes the medication work for a little bit but the edges are still there and one day they won't work at all anymore. It is a very vicious cycle and the older you get the worst will still to come. Once it hits menopause then everything will spiral even more out of control. All I got left is my family, my meds and my dear therapist ( without her I would be already dead)! But it gives me hope to know I am not crazy just not functioning quite right and especially I am not alone! I thank you from my heart for writing this article, I could not describe it any better!
Mark
says:
March, 1 2017 at 9:33 pm
I can work but I can seem to find time or energy to take care of myself or personal stuff! I can't seem to move forward or to make any progress
Laura
says:
February, 7 2017 at 2:11 am
Excellent article Tracy. I too am considered "high-functioning ". It takes such great strength to brave the outside world yet I do it with a smile on my face. Unfortunately, at this point of my bipolar disorder, I am unable to work at my career. However! I'm very productive! I'm the one who does all the shopping, pays the bills, maintains the home, and ensures everyone in the family's needs are met. I agree whole heartedly that at the end of each day, after dinner cleanup, I'm totally spent. If I've pushed myself too hard with a larger task I will crash after. If I'm over stimulated from a social gathering, after I crash. People, other than my family, NEVER see that side of me. I only go out on "good" days so Joe Public sees me as "normal:.
DominicB
says:
December, 3 2016 at 10:29 am
Thanks for this. I knew it already but, like many important things in my life, it got lost. 'BiPolar' is my full time occupation, and everything else comes second, or third, or fourth. You know the drill. Much respect. Dominic
Janet
says:
September, 22 2016 at 2:14 am
I helped a recently widowed relative for a few months. She is able to get her daily needs meet with deliveries and goes out with cabs. She knows I haven't been sleeping right and that I have bipolar, yet persisted in pestering me to do more for her. Our relationship is a one way street. We are not close. I can no longer accommodate someone who makes me so agitated.
Thrown Under The Bus
says:
September, 10 2016 at 1:37 am
When I first started working for the Federal goverment years ago it didn't take me long to find the job and I certainly didn't need a post secondary education to get it. But my how times have changed and the people in it

Three years ago more than half of my employment peers lost their job due to downsizing. I was extremely grateful at the time that I was not one of them

It was also 3 years ago that I received my bipolar diagnosis after I landed myself in hospital after a particularly rough ride of it. I was under so much stress at the time, both personal and professional. Despite feverish attempts to find appropriate help my world continued to crumble. It was my 3rd breakdown in 15 years and by far my worst. My employer didn't really care. They were aggressively trying everything within their power to break me so I'd voluntarily leave.

Most of the clerks I work with now are young part time or term employees who are grossly over qualified and usually quite eager to please by taking on extra work in the desperate hope of securing a full time permanent position.

As my mental illness began to level out this year I started to see some light at the end of the tunnel. My employer had recently gifted me with a nice watch for 35 years of service along with a framed certificate of "appreciation" for these years of service. It was signed by our Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau - His mother Margaret also has bipolar disorder) and with only one year away from conceivably retiring on a full pension I felt extremely hopeful and optimistic about the future.

With my energy level improving I also started looking for a part time job to supplement my income in order to hopefully pay off my debt sooner and boost my meagre retirement savings. Then last month BAM!!! before I could even secure a part time job I was unexpectantly blindsided by two coworkers who unfairly threw me under the bus to save their own ass at five minutes to closing. One was a term employee (highly favored by management) that was supposed to relieve me during the last half hour of the day so I could balance on time (I'm primarily a cashier). Unfortunately for me she didn't show up until it was far too late to made any difference. And although the other employee had handed me their clients paperwork in a timely fashion to process they had neglected to tell me the client was still there waiting. When it was finally brought to my attention I was certain there would not be enough time left to take in payment and process their paperwork before the end of day. I truly had no other choice than to ask the client to come back the following day. I was still struggling to balance on my own so another person could run their report before closing. Without processing that client I still didn't finish balancing until after my shift. Sometimes, but not often, it just takes a little longer than usual to finish up and this happened to be one of those days

Unfortunately because I had turned this client away (only FIVE measly minutes before closing!!!) I am now facing anywhere from a warning letter on my file to 10 days leave without pay. I have never faced anything like this before in my entire working career. I was completely shocked

Loosing pay at the end of the month will severely affect my ability to make next month's rent and afford the necessary transportation to get to and from work, not to mention all my other bills that will fall into arrears because of it. This also comes at a time when my security clearance is up for renewal. Our clearance is renewed every 5 years. It's only been in the last 3 years that the renewal process requires a credit check so I'm not really sure what to expect. Could I possibly lose my job as a result of this one incident and how easily would it be to find another one without a good reference at my age, with my limited education and mental health background.

All of this this has got me totally stressed out! I feel like I've just been thrown under the bus or rather hit by a bus

As a perfectionistic workaholic who rarely takes even takes a break it really hurts to know when I've done my absolute best, given it all, that it still was not good enough. Translation: I am not good enough. I'm just a worthless piece of shit. I mean why even bother to try anymore? What good does it do me anyway?

This Labour Day long weekend was spent sick in bed with a cold from being so run down, deeply depressed and completely cynical about people and life in general

When I got home from work during the week I went straight to bed. I didn't care about a thing. It just hurt too much to allow my thought process go there
Ellen
says:
August, 28 2016 at 8:27 am
Hi Natasha,

I realize you posted this a while ago, but this was my exact experience for most of my adult life. Recently, I had a few changes in my life and was more down than usual, and the doctors decided to put me on medication. I am not sure about this, as usually I am 'high functioning'. Have you had a similar experience? Do you think it is possible to be medication free?
Kim
says:
July, 24 2016 at 2:36 pm
I have the same issue. I do my best to keep everything together and working but those 5 days of keeping control is exhausting. Like you im always tired. I cant go to bed early even if i only got 4 hrs of sleep the following night. I may only sleep the most is 6 hrs a night. Most of those hours im just laying there. I have to say this we are not "crazy". We should never think of ourselves in that way.
alex
says:
July, 23 2016 at 9:15 pm
me to
Shoshonna
says:
July, 17 2016 at 11:18 pm
I feel so lost, I have struggled with friendships and relationships my whole life. Oscillating between loving and kind to being direct short tempered and cutting everyone off. No friends quit my job of 8 years cause i couldnt remember anything and was paranoid and sharp with everyone. I stay up til 3am sleep till 2pm and struggle to do the simplest task. I feel like ive failed at every single thing, no friends, ive been a crap sister and daughter, no job, brother paying my mortgage, unhappy, and have pushed anyone who loved or cared about me away. I was high functioning but have crashed and every moment is a complete struggle. Just holding on!
Geoffry
says:
July, 17 2016 at 5:56 am
She is abusI've and then we fight. Most meds are junk. I work in MH but feel I need some MH support nedicinally. Panic is my companion.
Geoffry
says:
July, 17 2016 at 5:54 am
Could we chat sometime pls? I have been dx with pipolar2 and lithium plus e AEDs make me sick with what I think is NMS. I also gave ptsd a d struggled with my wife who ishould abusive verbally. I'm sort of lost now and a friendly chat would be great if possible. Geoffry Feinberg MEd.BA.AA just the GF part on fb....Jr Google. You're article was well written.
Candy
says:
June, 21 2016 at 3:58 am
OMG, thanks for all that. My family judges me because I come home from work (held down a job at the same company for 15 years!) and slip right into bed, watch TV, and play solitaire. I'm a programmer, so I have not one brain cell left after work... no I can't go outside in the blazing heat and trim the crepe myrtles, no I can't do the dishes, no I can't carry on a reasonable conversation... at least not for about 1-2 hours depending on my day. I spend a lot of time being a zombie. Thanks again for validating my struggles :)
WhirringPurring
says:
June, 18 2016 at 11:32 am
Natasha! Thank you so much for your amazing posts!!! They hit the nail on the head for so many little things that I thought were weird quirks but are actually connected to BP!! Not showering, no energy left after being high functioning all day, psychomotor agitation (which is more a mental torment that physical one).... Thank you!
isabel
says:
June, 17 2016 at 2:13 pm
i came across this article and it's kind of similar to how i feel, at least some parts, my family members know there's something different about me and all my childhood friends, i stay away from all of them so that i don't face the fact that i am different now, i do use drugs now, i didn't before but still felt something wrong with me, i used to have a good job, brand new car(which of course was repossessed), when i had my 2nd baby(10 months after the 1st) i went crazy you could say, humming rapidly even when babies weren't around, i decided not to go back to work after my leave from work was over, because i felt like i couldn't get out of bed anymore, i wanted to sleep forever LITERALLY but having babies you can't really do that, and i felt anxious all the time, a fear of leaving my house, wouldn't answer my phone, wouldn't answer the door if someone knocked, it got to the point where i was just cluttering my house and couldn't keep up with my own mess, i felt so hopeless and then started using drugs, my anxiety levels went way down which felt great, but the depression is still very much present, so now i'm addicted to drugs, no house, no car, no job, because my confidence went way down and i feel even bosses of a job i'm applying for notice it, worst mistake in all of this is i didn't put my babies first so there at dad's grandma's house and i'm on the street bouncing around, i feel really lost in my life right now, i have no plans, no goals i feel as if i'm frozen in this phase of my life, but the rest of this world still goes on, my babie's birthdays feel as if they pass by so fast i can't keep up, i have an outstanding warrant for my arrest due to an episode of assault and battery on a spouse, and the vandalism of their property, ive gone to mental health a total of 3 times now, but can't seem to keep up with the appointments and/or take prescribed drugs when needed, for about i'd say a whole2 weeks i felt great with the drugs they gave me (lithium, clonazepam, buephron or somethinglike that) i felt like nothing could get me down and i was most peaceful for a second of my life it felt then off i fell again, i want to be better, for my babies, i want to be able to put them first and the feeling i should have to make me put them first because i don't care what anyone says i love my girls with all my heart but i feel something in me like a short to where i act on these maternal instincts that i know i should have, SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT I SHOULD DO!!! i'm just sooo lost sleeping my days away, my motivation is completely gone and i need it back...
Shauna
says:
June, 10 2016 at 5:07 pm
Ann- is there a way we could chat privately?
Liz
says:
May, 26 2016 at 12:02 am
My sister fits the description of high functioning bipolar

However, she uses drugs of a "recreational" type and I feel that behavior is making everything worse and causing her brain unnecessary, additional struggles. She disagrees... Strongly.
She abuses whip it's and ketamine. One deprives her brain of OXEGEN and the other is an anesthetic.

She thinks I'm being insensitive and wonders if she can trust me because I'm demanding that she stop doing these drugs.

Does anyone have an opinion on this?
Donna
says:
May, 21 2016 at 7:39 pm
Hi Dean,I feel the exact same way..I'm a horrible person during the lows and love,care and feel so guilty about the lows during the highs...never really knew nor understand this disorder until a few years ago...my father also struggled with this and back then nobody knew what was going on...I had to find a way to focus on the weakness though and not the wicked ness...it's a horrible disease to have and so very much still needs to be done to eradicate it forever
Dean
says:
May, 10 2016 at 1:50 am
Hi Ann...

I found your comments fascinating. I am currently undiagnosed as Bi-Polar. However I have for years considered this to be the cause of my manic and depressed episodes. I can be the most horrible person in the world to live with, and yet at times provide a great deal of entertainment and inspiration to family and friends when I am manic. I have achieved some truly amazing feats when manic and have many stories to tell. However at 42 years of age with three children, I am starting to think that I may need treatment as when I crash so does my business, and this is not good for family and future. As a mild antidote to living with bi-polar, I would say the following... As a young unattached man, I could endure the lows to enjoy the productivity of the highs. But as an older family man it puts too much strain on my relationships and future prosperity.

Let me know if any of you feel similar...

Thanks for reading - Dean
Nerb
says:
April, 26 2016 at 10:21 am
High functioning= very good actor or actress
Lacie
says:
April, 3 2016 at 6:38 am
Looking in the rear view of life I have been struggling with bipolar for most of my life from preschool on. I am now a 38 year old woman with 3 kids and 2 failed relationships. I however have never been hospitalized or in trouble with law enforcement to a degree that would give me a record. Recently trying to get help for my son who has struggled for just as long in his life (preschool) the doctor (3rd so far) said you can't be bipolar unless you are hospitalized or in jail! I was able to describe how that it was a possibility, due to parents refusal to help when suicidal or even acting out in mania was shoved under the rug. I had to learn how to be high functioning bipolar, I had only two choices suicide or fake it till you make it. I get a lot of surprised reaction when I say that I am bipolar, I don't look or act crazy! Well no one knows the person within or the crazy things I've done, but they do know that I am an unwavering supporter of my 2 bipolar children and always put the mental health needs they have first. Thank you for putting words to the "high functioning" part of our bipolar society.
Karen van Zyl
says:
March, 31 2016 at 9:11 pm
Is that what it is called? High Functioning??? Yeah sure. I am in full time Christian ministry, working with children. I was diagnosed with depression at age 24 although it was lingering since age 10. I was hospitalized a year ago, and even then the Bipolar was not diagnosed due to my A-typical Mania symptoms. It was only 5 months ago that they finally clicked. Now it is meds, and routines and just trying not to kill incompetent co-workers. Clinging desperately to my job and feeling as if the church board is on the brink of firing me. I am too tired to think at night, too tired to deal with my family and generally just trying not to start cutting again. This Bipolar thing sucks, and no one around you get that even the smallest of things set you off. Strongs to everybody out there.
Jorja
says:
March, 22 2016 at 1:03 pm
I am happy to find that there are others that are high functioning. I too am able to work in a high stress job but find that is about all I can manage. Fortunately I have a supportive spouse that is willing to do much of the housework when he gets home after work. What I really miss is not being able to socialize with people, I can't drink alcohol, I have too watch what I eat, take my meds by 7:30pm and be in bed by 8:30pm, all so I can get up and work 9-5. I don't want to spend the rest of my life like this but can't really find an alternative.

Any ideas?
M
says:
March, 20 2016 at 4:53 pm
Hi blitter2014

I'm sorry that you're going though such a dark period of your life right now and that you feel you have to face this alone

For what it's worth I think we all wear a mask of some sort or other whether we have a mental illness or not but I do get what you are saying. With a mental illness comes a whole host of unique challenges

For me when I get struck in that valley again it's a very humbling experience. On heavy doses of meds trying to climb what seems like an unsurmountable mountain feels impossible, without the energy, strength, tools or proper support. I find being willing and open to accept any and all help that may be offered is always a good start. I know if I keep on fighting eventually things will start to improve. You CAN learn to rebuild your life again if you don't lose hope. It just takes time... Believe in yourself. Learn to be your own advocate and ask for what you need. Try not to compare yourself with others who have not experienced what you are going through otherwise you will sink into a pit of despair and negativity.
blitter2014
says:
March, 19 2016 at 11:38 am
Masks. Its always about masks. We hide behind them in the vane attempt to appear normal.

I hold down a part time job cleaning public toilets. Up until twoyears ago I was building houses for a living. I had a nervous breakdown midway through a Job and ended up having to walk away from it all work wise. This put a huge strain on my marriage and child as I had been functioning med free for five years. My life is on complete shambles now, and my days besides work on weekends consists of housework and not a lot else. I see my tools in the shed and part of me longs for my former life. 16 years ago I went through a similar period , lost wife family business everything but managed to rebuild. This time my memory is so badly affected I do not think I will ever work in the building trade again. In my 40s and it feels like I'm 70 because that's now my interaction level. It takes everything to hold the mask for my family and the small amount I have to go out in public. Truth is no one wants to see the mental illness. Nor do they understand. It evokes if anything pity, but not empathy. I don't think it can, unless you have it.

I struggle daily with suicidal thoughts although strongly medicated. What's the point if this is the best now life has to offer. I believe in a creator, however my faith does not take away the daily struggle. I also realistically realize my insignificance in the grand scheme of things. Life is exhausting before you walk out the door, before you draw your first breathe in the morning, and its hard to convince yourself that its worth the struggle.

I've lowered my expectations. I know I have the ability for so much more, yet not the capability to cope with it. That failure right there is a constant reminder of an illness that you predominantly have to hide. Have a broken leg people understand and it will heal. Bipolar, people stay for a while then leave, it just becomes too much. Again, why bother with the masks. Because unless you want to live like a leper, we have no choice. And having to hold it together for any length of time, yes we can do it. The anger, frustration, lack of memory seeps out and shows eventually and people notice. Then when away from everyone you completely fall apart. You become absolutely no fun. My wife says that all the time, your no fun . its not by choice. But can you blame them. No. So we struggle and fight alone.

And for me that's the hardest part. Having people around you yet feeling totally alone and abandon.
Tasha
says:
March, 6 2016 at 10:08 pm
When I read this post I felt that someone finally understands me and puts into words the things that I always scream about in my mind. I am a college teacher and have spent years of my life trying to land a good job. At the moment I work part-time in two colleges (16 hours in total-double that time for home preparation). I am barely able to do the work. I also have resistant depression and this year relapsed and it was a living nightmare. I feel such shame it is incredible. When I wake up in the morning and I feel like crap from all the medication I am on and still have to go to work and pretend I am fine. And they know that something is wrong because I look like a frump, like I dont care about my appearance. It also seems like I am absent minded and I am always behind with work and marking essays and that doesnt reflect well on me. So I Refused a class early in the morning because I am unable to drive so early and was told in no uncertain terms that next year I will not be employed. I have very little energy. Everything feels like a chore. I am not the person that I used to be, that relaxed person that had immense energy and could achieve so much in one day. Now everything has to be put into a schedule. Make sure I see my friends so that I wont lose them. Make sure I am ok with my fiance so that he doesnt feel left out. Make sure I work enough to keep my job....I am always running, trying to make it in a life that is not created for us but for people that have no problems, are healthy. The only reason I dont file for disability is because the money they give in my country are so little you literally starve! I have reached the point though that I understand I am unable to work full time and fulfill my dream. The cost is immense. Work like everybody for a week and collapse for two! Do what others do in one day and cry for the next two. I know the solution. It is to cut down on work hours even further. Be "humane" to myself. But the guilt and the shame comes back and bites me in my behind. Three Masters Degrees, so many years of studying to sit at home and pretend I work?? Is this what my life has amounted to? A game of "pretend"? Pretend to friends I had a cold because I couldn't go to their party? Pretend to my boss that I have serious family problems so they feel sorry for me? Pretend that I dont care about superficial stuff like appearance and my extreme weight gain and that I dont see the looks on their faces? And life doesnt stop because WE are unable to speed up like the rest of the people? Because we fight with medication and relapsing all the time? The secret battle we give every day that nobody knows about.
Stephanie
says:
February, 9 2016 at 4:57 pm
Hello to you all!
Guess we're all in the same boat. Was diagnosed with bd at 16 after 3 suicide attempts between 12 and 16 y/o. I've been suicidal w multiple highs and lows since I was 9 y/o. When I started consulting, the psychiatrist didn't diagnose me right away because she said "it could just be typical teenager symptoms". What a bunch of crap! I'm now 21 and not taking any medication. Can't really afford it and truth be told, I don't want to. The feeling of taking medication to try and be "normal" plus the fact that it takes years to find the right mix sounds annoying. Probably less than feeling and living my ups and lows though. I have long episodes, from months to a few years. I've normally been able to be high functioning, but the last four years were disastrous. Dropped out of school, couldn't get out of my bed, packed on 50 pounds... I'm only just starting to get out of it but I'm afraid I'll fall back. There's no way to explain it to people. It's like there's you and bd and then there's the outside world. You're in it, but not really. Kudos to all of you who have a family. It must be so hard to maintain it all on top of it. I can't deal with myself. I'll never have kids if it means being able to protect them from my behaviour, my episodes and everything that comes with bd. God forbid that I bring them down with me. I have more lows than highs and I have yet to feel a real feeling of happiness or gratefulness for being alive. I just don't see myself ever coming out of this. I don't know about you guys, but I feel like whatever happens, whenever it happens, I'll still end up taking my life. That's how I see it end, even if I get better.
Susan
says:
January, 16 2016 at 5:04 pm
This is for Lucy with the husband with folliculitis. I'm bipolar 2 and last year I had folliculitis. Horrible, painful pimple-like bumps all over my head. I was on massive doses of steroids which can play mental havoc with a "normal" person. So, I have some empathy for your husband if he's on steroids.
That said, I know how hard it is when nobody understands what's going on inside your head. The time I had folliculitis was probably the worst time I've had with my BPD because both the inside and outside of my head were turning against me and I'm not sure my family had any idea what I was going through.
Bryan
says:
January, 8 2016 at 6:54 am
I am 40 and I have been in a fight with this my whole life but never understood what it was. I went to a few psychiatrists, psychologists and the lot. They all diagnosed me with Adult ADD and prescribed Adderall. That felt wonderful at first but in the end just made the problems worse. The highs were higher but the lows were about as low as you can get to the point of sitting straight up in the bed at 3:30am more or less screaming about how bad life sucked and I didn't want to be here anymore. This was more than my wife could handle and she told me to get off the Adderall and find another doctor because she didnt know how much longer she could handle these mood swings, at that point we had been married for 18 years and now in retrospect, she dealt with it all of those years the best she could.


I switched family doctors 2 years ago to see the same doctor that my mother does. I thought that may help because he knew her background. Unlike the psych's that I had saw in the past where $130 = 15 minutes of nothing in my opinion the MD was much more interested in what I had to say and how I was feeling than just saying here is a prescription, and if the appt. took an hour then it took an hour that was his view. After 2 appointments, one with my wife in the room and one without and using the reference of my mother's bi-polar he told me he though I was bi-polar but not exactly like my mom. He diagnosed me with rapid cycling bi-polar 2 which was aggravating an anxiety problem I already had but had partially learned how to control. The end result was being prescribed Lamictal once per day and small dose klonopin twice per day.

I felt pretty flat and lame the first month or so but no major mood swings. As time went on I got used to it and feel pretty normal now. I will say that this year around the holiday period things got hectic and I forgot to take the Lamictal for 2 days, that made me feel horrible then when I did remember to start taking it again it took about a week to get back on the level again. I wish I could stop taking these meds not because they make me feel bad but just because I dont like taking meds just to feel "normal" but they work and if not both I will probably be on Lamictal the rest of my life.
Cheryl
says:
December, 31 2015 at 5:44 am
I have never been diagnosed, but I have all the symptoms of Bipolar. Reading these post is the first time I have ever felt understood and not alone with my shameful secret. I am highly functional if that mean having a job and an apartment....last year I walked out of my 7 year marriage, walked off my job and refused to take calls from my friends and relatives. I spent the next couple of months in hiding...mostly sleeping and crying. Feeling completely ashamed. I packed my bags and moved out of state to get a fresh start. I have a good job, a nice apartment and car. Everyday I pray and ask God to help me get through the day.

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