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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 2022, August 18 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. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Amanda
December, 11 2014 at 7:56 pm

LOOK EVEN MORE BETTER!
However, the problem with bipolar disorder in present time is that drug treatment often vanquishes the creativity in the patient. (5) In earlier days when drug therapy was not implemented, the creativity would be free. Yet, through the attempt for affected people to cope with day to day living, their creativity must be sacrificed. It is remarkable how these "afflicted" persons exude extraordinary creativity. Therapists and researchers are on the constant search to provide treatment for the debilitating symptoms. In the case of bipolar disorder, the world benefits from the mood swings endured by a large percentage of these patients. Though their ability to function properly is of utmost concern, since the cycling between manic and depressive phases is so traumatic and energy depleting, the unusual existence of creativity of such caliber in these people is something to conserve. As more effective drug treatment is being sought after, hopefully there will be medication that will permit the creative genius of the patients and allow them to function in society as well.
I didn't know this.... (CLEARLY YA"LL KNOW WHAT MOOOOD I"M IN)
haha

Amanda
December, 11 2014 at 7:54 pm

I just read this: sort of says what i've been learning.
One common feature in mania or hypomania is the increase in unusually creative thinking and productivity. (2, 3, 5, 7) The manic factor contributes to an increased frequency and fluency of thoughts due to the cognitive difference between normalcy and mania. (2, 5) Manic people often speak and think in rhyme or alliteration more than non-manic people. (2, 5) In addition, the lifestyles of manic-depressives in their manic phase is comparable to those of creative people. Both groups function on very little sleep, restless attitudes, and they both exhibit depth and emotion beyond the norm. (2, 5) Biologically speaking, the manic state is physically alert. That is, it can respond quickly and intellectually with a range of changes (i.e. emotional, perceptual, behavioral). (5) The manic perception of life is one without bounds. This allows for creativity because the person feels capable of anything. It is as if the walls, which inhibit the general population, do not exist in manic people, allowing them to become creative geniuses. They understand a part of art, music, and literature which normal people do not attempt. The manic state is in sharp contrast to the depressive phase of bipolar patients. In their depressed phase, patients only see gloom and boundaries. They feel helpless, and out of this helplessness comes the creativity. (5) The only way bipolar patients can survive their depressed phases, oftentimes, is to unleash their despondency through some creative work. (5, 3)
http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1726

Amanda
December, 11 2014 at 7:34 pm

I have not read every single post here, I've read kristy, jenny, free spirit, and kary's post.
I am truly sorry to hear this. I've recently been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. A question I constantly ask myself is how should I perceive it. I was diagnosed in February 2014, so it's nearly been a year since I've began medication. I've been giving it a lot of thought. Please consider this perspective. Do keep in mind that I am very young. I'm also very new at learning to live with this, so those with more experience may see the flaw in my theory and perspective. In addition, if anyone has any counter argument, please feel free to comment. The following is a bit of my theory and some experience.
I'm formulating this theory. Speaking directly to those who have been diagnosed bipolar or believe they may have bipolar disorder. There is no denying that our reactions to our environments are extreme. We learn new things, and we respond emotionally, and many of those times, our emotions do not feel as if they are fully in our control. Have you ever wondered why most people are diagnosed in their late teens, early 20's, late 20s? Hormones are still settling, we're still discovering ourselves and our place in this world, and we're observing and analyzing, to some degree, our environment. And to some other degree, we're aware of what this all means.
I don't think this is a disorder in any sense. I think we are a special group of people who have these incredible insights about the world, but haven't had the opportunity to reach full potential, considering the restrictions that are set in our lives; whether they are self propelled or externally influenced. I do believe there are other people with incredible insights who don't develop bipolar disorder. We aren't special in THAT sense. (I think) But I think there is something unique about our blend of genetics and experiences.
I dunno if anyone else feels this way,
but i'm tired of feeling people's pity, i'm tired of people looking at me as if i'm a case problem, i'm tired of people's reactions when I am in a hypomanic state.
I look at myself, and I see a beautiful intelligent human being, who just has a different cyclical pattern than the average, who may be more sensitive to their environment than those around them, and may have bursts of intense energy, unlike the average.
I don't know anyone else in my social circle, nor in my extended help circle (psychiatrist, psychologist, guidance councillor) who knows what this is like. I don't know...if seeing our abilities...as an illness....is the most productive approach...as a society...
Who came up with this sentence anyway? Maybe the first few people diagnosed with this illness, weren't given a chance, really saw that this world was a fucked up place and didn't know how to respond to it, and the people who happened to diagnose them, didnt know what they were thinking, and only watched them from afar, to make the guessed opinion that whatever they were experiencing, was bad and wrong, and needed to be treated.
So far, I've learned...Medication has helped dampen the amplitude of my 'episodes'. The extremity is decreasing and with that, comes healing. It takes time. I've faced the majority of the environmental stressors. That included much crying, pillow throwing, running, deep breathing, panic attacks, singing, guitaring, cloud staring, meditation, and long solo walks. I walk away from them, knowing that they've been faced, and they are a piece of my past.
But now I'm left to consider what this is. What happened to me. Why do I feel guilty and ashamed for this? It's difficult when you feel alone in your viewpoint, no one else to talk to about this 'state of mind' we enter...
I still have so called 'manic episodes' even now that i'm medicated. They aren't as 'uncontrollable' as they used to be...but i think that's because a lot of the pain i welled up inside is...gone... and i was able to face it in a healthy way because of the..medication.
If I believe I am beautiful; If I believe that I am intelligent; If I believe that I am not ill and this is just, a really interesting lens to see that world; If I learn how to operate effectively under these 'uncontrolled' episodes; If I direct my energy in a positive and enriching way; If I learn how to treat my body with love, respect, and to care for my health; I think then, my 'disability' can be a strong ability.
I really have strong belief that there are people who operate within this state, and don't have to be on meds. I think those people, who get to think, feel, and make decisions that have powerful impact, feel this sense of fulfillemt. I think it's possible to live with this disorder and be highly functioning. It takes maturity I think, purpose, and reason to do this. But, if you have all this energy, yes the lows suck, but i wonder if they can dampen if you give yourself a very important task and stick with it.
I used to get anxious when I reached mania. I would start to feel scared knowing that this was 'bad' behavior. The feelings I got and the surge of energy I felt were bad and intolerable. This isn't the case. It can be an incredible power for you.
On the other hand, the cockiness and the irritability aren't fun. However, I think this is just the result of youth and immaturity. Given reason, I think they can be rectified with discipline and practice. I've noticed this trend in myself. You just have to realize that, HEY GIRL, there are people out there JUST like you. Who see these things too. You're not the only one. It works better if you question your faith.
Now I reach that state, I don't get anxious. I gave myself a purpose. Now, when i'm in that zone, I use that energy to create. I'm aware of my danger line. I cross it if I lose too much sleep, eat too little, begin to feel very irritable (lack of sleep)Since these are more negative sides to this disorder, I have to manage that consciously. That also takes practice and drive.
I'd say. Give yourself a purpose. I'm sure you see something wrong with the world, and you with you could do something. Know that you can. Know that you're capable. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Healing will come. Come to your own conclusions about what it is you have. Try not to feel guilty, you're a mathematical concept, and that's beautiful.
I dunno.
I could be wrong.
I talk like this, and I receive worried looks.
It always makes me doubt.
;)
please comment if you add, disagree, think i'm a stupid little brat girl, or need a 'real' wake up call.
(i still doubt...always..)

Jason
December, 7 2014 at 6:13 pm

I never thought of it as "High functioning" but I guess that's the label that makes the most sense.
I am absolutely exhausted with trying to keep up a normal existence. My partner feigns that she knows what BP is and how it works, but when the tide rises and I just can't swim any more, she is the first one to play the "I have things worse than you" card. So I am left fighting this thing on several fronts, mentally, physically and I have to fend of attacks of how I have put us into a financial position, or that I am not pulling my weight. Of course these things are never blurted right out, but they are implied blatantly.
We recently closed our small business, and I was due to start a new job 3 days ago. I went to work, and within 2 hours I was in full anxiety/ panic attack in the washroom. I had to tell the owner that I just couldn't do it.
I called my partner to explain to her the state I was in, and I was met with disappointment.
I feel as thought my family, relationship, and frankly my last shred of dignity is now finally gone too.

Reggie
December, 5 2014 at 12:34 pm

I'm also high functioning bipolar but it's slipping through my fingers. My cognitive functioning is running out. I'm scared. I can't leave my job because my husband has agoraphobia and we have two kids, and is mom who also has bipolar with psychosis lives with us.
There's nowhere to turn for help. I sit at my desk and wonder how long until the smoke fades and the mirrors break and everyone sees the crazy woman who can't get any work done?

Patty
November, 24 2014 at 3:03 am

I'm so glad I stumbled onto your page, Natasha! I've gone to other sites and forums because I wanted someone to talk to but all of the posts were more than a year old, so why bother..lol
So many of the posts on here I can relate to completely! Especially about "Feeling Nothing"..A walking talking shell of a person. Empty.
Not to write a book or anything, but I've lived a life of pure hell! Since childhood I've, been gang-raped twice. Abused at home, physically, mentally, and sexually. This didn't end until I was pregnant with my first child at age 17..I married the father..Right out of mommy and Step Daddy's house, to living with a husband. I don't know where my bipolar began, but I was obviously severely depressed growing up..
On top of trying to maintain,(even after yrs of meds)I am pretty sure I'm a Sensitive/Empath. I don't just throw those words around either because I don't want folks to think I'm a REAL NUT JOB! Lots of people brag about it..I don't, I just deal with it, but I don't know the difference between cycling or the sensitive/empath noise that I have. I take on everyone else's problems, I live with severe guilt because of the past, even though I know it wasn't my fault..I've had counseling my entire adulthood along with meds..I take them faithfully. I have all kinds of health problems...mostly heart and lungs..To put it plain and simple, I'M EXHAUSTED! Honestly, I hope to die soon..can't wait, yet I won't kill myself..Since I have children, I couldn't do that to them or anyone else in my family..Am I the only one that wants to die on a daily basis?

david
November, 16 2014 at 3:55 pm

This is an absolute joke . High functioning is another word for fake bipolar or bipolar type 2. You dont have it in other words. you people are an ignorant travesty. And this author needs to be choked. Another psychiatry victim.

sheena
November, 7 2014 at 12:52 pm

Wow reading everyone's stories really helped make me feel not alone. I really feel like this disorder have help groups because I would love nothing more than someone like me who would understand me. I have a hard time even using the phone .

Steve Hughes
November, 1 2014 at 11:31 pm

Hi, I am a 56 year male and had Bipolar since I was 25 years old. I have been in and out of Hospital half my life it seems. I have been married 4 times now and my 4th wife understand my problem. I live in the Philippines now, but from USA. I have taken every medication that I can think of. None of the medication every work, so I was given shock treatments for 1 1/2 years. It only made my memory worse. I can remember the past, but I have a hard time to remember what happen that day. When I moved to the Philippines I was married and very happy. I stop all my medication before I came here and now I exercise 5 days a week, sometime six days. It is very hard at time, but it will help and it has. I also have a pet monkey since he was 3 months old. He is 2 1/2 years old now and he has really help me when I am stress out. when I have a bad day I can just look at him and it somehow takes all the stress away for a while. I had plan to come back to the USA next year, but I am having problems with the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, GA. I use Rockie my monkey as a service animal here in the Philippines. Rockie is only cat size, he is a Long tail Macaque. If anyone has any idea, it would be nice to hear them. Rockie really help my manic problem, because when I get so angry and feel like doing something bad, I can look at him and he seem to calm me down. I don't want to look like a crazy man, but sometime I feel that way. Robin William had Bipolar & Manic and many ones. If you look at all the killing in the Schools in the USA, many of them had Bipolar & Manic. I only wish we had the same rights that blind people have. They use a dog as a service animal, so why can't one like us use a Monkey as a service animal? We all are disable and it seem like the USA Discriminate against ones like us. I am not putting the rights of a blind person down, because they need a seeing eye dog, but one like myself need a service animal that helps us calm down. Sometime it is very hard to control my Manic when out without my Monkey. If I am not allowed to go back to the USA, how will I act then. Yes, I can just stay here in the Philippines, but my parent are up in age and not in good health. I would like to return and see them one more time before they pass away, but if I did that without Rockie my monkey, it would only make my health worse. I don't believe in medication, because it has only mess me up. Thanks again for reading my letter.

Erica D
October, 31 2014 at 10:28 pm

I'm truly blessed to have stumble upon this blog/ website. I'm so tired of knowing what needs to be done but can't do it because of my brain going faster than my body.. It just don't come together well and it's frustrating, it discouraging,it's horrible. No one wants to help but they love to point fingers, and put you down. Me personally think they are the sick individuals. Who are just so cruel to one another like most people now n days.. But I have to put away my anger and pray for them. And we all need to stick together also and pray for one another. Because everything happens for a reason so I say LIVE LOVE LAUGH LEARN and do ur best and all else will come together.. Love you all

Lynn
October, 31 2014 at 3:13 am

This article is spot on and the author, as well as all the commenters could be me. I worked very hard for many years and I was fried - I am fried. I am on disability now,but whoah, what a shock to have to live on less money. I can do it and will. I just can't keep up the pretense of being normal. Being around others (even my husband) sucks the life out of me. It is interesting to note how many of us are high functioning bi-polars and the best vehicle for us to connect is through this blog. Thank goodness we have the strentgh to connect through our computer and words. It eases some of the loneliness we experience. We are not lazy - we have a mental illness - though others forget, we cannot.

Robinn G
October, 30 2014 at 7:39 pm

I'm high-functioning bipolar 2. I'm always depressed, to varying degrees. I love to work full time but can barely manage part time work. I've always said that whenever I work, I have 2 jobs: pretending to be normal and the job itself. I tried to go back to work full time after being on Social Security Disability for 6 years. I managed doing it for 4 years; the last 2 years were horribly difficult and when they laid me off, it was a relief. I went back to full SSDI. I have the same problem even with working 20 or fewer hours per week! I'm barely managing it but need the money for my medication, my cell phone, and a few other things. At my current job, I am now self-sabotaging, almost hoping they'll fire me because the stress is getting worse and worse.
Thanks for letting me vent! I didn't know that other people had this problem too!!

Sharon
October, 30 2014 at 6:22 pm

It is sadly true It does get worse with age. Just as any physiological disease worsens with age. I have been diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar for the past 22 years. But I know I have been bipolar since I was at least 14 yrs old. I am not 56. And my husband and 2 boys used me as a punching bag. Of course. Most people take the easiest route. And here I am over here. Loonie Tunes. Just waiting for some action. So I got too much action and left. That was only due to the fact that I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, herniated discs, some kind of degenerating disc disease. etc. And you know what. I was actually one of those characters in the movies. You know, the family member who gets ill and then her "loving" family abandons her. And after I baked pies at 2 a.m. before work for them. But now they have no one to dump their toxic waste on now that I have left. It's just me and my dog and I should have split a long time ago. All the best to those who are still figuring things out.

Nutty in NJ
October, 25 2014 at 2:48 pm

Hi,
Due to family grief and on-going issues with a husband who suffers from ED, impotency, aggression, anger-management and then some, he will pick fights with me due to his problems and issues. Making a long story short, with extenuating situation, as his not wanting to cut the chord and have our 37 yr. old son and 33 yr old daughter, finally move out on their own long overdue, he continues a close knit relationship and the three are a weir symbiotic trio, all gang up and are antagonistic towards me for years now.
After one of many bouts with my husband starting an argument and it leading to domestic violence on his part, I called a crisis management team a half hour from my home. I was of course upset and crying when I spoke to a rep, as the person I had spoken to there regularly was not available. My daughter, who gets involved on my husband's behalf, as does my son, happy with their dad treating and enabling them like babies, constantly,
grabbed my cell phone out of my hand. She and my husband proceeded to go into her room, and speak to the crisis mgmt rep, giving her their false, bogus interpretation of what really occurred. My husband, due to my leaving him papers on his computer explaining my care by a nurse practitioner and clinical social worker, in anger came up to my computer, to grab it, try to break it along with part of my desk. This is when I started to cry and proceeded to call crisis mgmt. Sorry the story is a bit out of order. The end result was, crisis mgmt called the local police who suggested I go to the local hospital to talk to someone from their psych dept. I did so, but was forced at this point, through no fault of my own, to stay there for a few days for evaluation.
Upon speaking to the intake psychiatrist the next morning, he said" I see you are bi-polar", I replied by stating, I was never diagnosed with that, and would hope that he as the dr. treating me at that facility would make his own diagnosis.
I provided both him and the social worker I met with while there a few days with the phone numbers and contacts of the psych. nurse practitioner and clinical social worker I have been seeing for the last 20 months, to get their diagnosis. I did tell the doctor I was being treated for depression, due to a sad failed marriage, with a husband I am still stuck living with due to financial constraints. I believe I was misdiagnosed by this Dr. as his findings were in haste and not based on my history I gave him in great detail. I was given Tegritol for Bi-polar disorder. What it did do in the course of the 5 days I took it is, made me sleep half the day away, when awake made me nauseous, dizzy, foggy and totally out of it. I stopped taking it as the side affects were totally adverse, and there were no redeeming affects for me, as I believe as do my nurse practitioner, who speaks to a psychiatrist about my case regularly as well as my clinical social worker, that I do not have bi-polar disorder! So here I was with the only upside to my story being, I got to spend 4-5 nice, tranquil, peaceful days with people who were suffering from various mental illnesses, but whose staff and they were all kind, caring, nice compassionate and all unlike my family I am sadly relegated to stay with, until I can now save to move out on my own, as all monies went into my household. More long story there too long and dreadful to continue with. I have been out of work after losing my job 3 years ago. I did some temporary work, but have still been unable to find full time work. I had to take early social security benefits to help myself and family. My 33 year old daughter was only a pt English adjunct professor at a local college for a few years, working only 6-7 hours per week with menial salary accordingly. My son quit a good lucrative job with a top accounting firm,because after 13 yrs of college hopping and only one 4 year degree he "did not like the job" My husband, the sick sad enabler allowed him to quit, while on credit card borrowing and no money at all, he went into a business from home with my son, selling sports cards, memorabilia, records antiques etc. Sadly, with no money for continued inventory after less than 3 years this past May, the business was defunct due to lack of cash flow to put it mildly.
Needless to say, our financial situation is in complete turmoil and fiasco. Now my daughter finally got a full time lucrative job, my son, who is fussy, is waiting on the "right job" with no room for waiting due to our dire financial circumstances! My husband and"kids" take all anger etc. out on me and I am the personal punching bag for all!My car was repossessed so I do not even have the ability to keep going on job interviews as I was without any transportation, and I am not near any public transportation either. I am now trying hard to work from home on my computer, as I am limited to a pt job and pt income at best due to getting my early social security benefits this past June to help me and family all around! You can see how grateful they all are! total lack of respect, degrading demeaning, etc. to top it all off, my husband has been suffering with ed and impotency issues since March 2005 and sleeps on a couch to avoid his medical, emotional psychological issues and overdue need for HIM TO GET HELP AS BADLY NEEDED! THIS IS ALL TOO TRUE AS I COULD NOT MAKE THIS UP NOR WOULD I WASTE ANYONE'S TIME DOING SO!!I just wanted to weigh in on how I was misdiagnosed with bi-polar, sadly, and right now, do not have medical coverage and limited ability to get to needed doctors as necessary. So I am unable to get a proper diagnosis, from a dr. other then that intake dr. who sees several patients only on a transient temporary basis, without real thought to curing them on a permanent and continuing basis, but rather just doing a very temporary job with them, as my stay there and everyone else is a week at most. Now you have my tale of woe, and why not to let yourself, get diagnosed wrongfully by an uncaring, temp. Dr.

marie
October, 24 2014 at 11:14 am

Hi, What a relief to hear I am not alone, I work in mental health and been diagnosed aytypical bipolar and spent many years trying to hide and cope, and right now am really struggling with hypomania trying to break thru - I wish I could be as honest about BP as I am about my diabetes but there is still that "look" or changed responses when they find out that just kills my esteem, Thanks to all helping me feel less alone,

sherry
October, 24 2014 at 7:40 am

I note a common cry in all BP high-achievers who have written in: I'M TIRED!
I used to be known for my enthusiasm & cheerfulness (during my frequent hypomanic moods) but after 23 years of a professional career (& 2 degrees), I cannot manage more than 2-3 nights out a week and by 7 p.m. I'm longing for TV and bed with my 2 cats. (BBBC is miles better than US crap!). I do enjoy singing lessons, choir and a band, but rarely find the energy to attend concerts. My family all live abroad and travelling to see them is getting out of my comfort zone. An added stressor is that my mother has dementia and insults me when I visit her. I think BPs are less able to withstand negative remarks than "normal" people. She persistently ignored my diagnosis, which makes me less able to take hers into account...
But I still enjoy beauty and nature and friends. I have a project that is dormant for the time being: writing a memoir of my BP, creative, well-known late father. But I lack the discipline after the meds, the pre-diabetes diet, making sure I get enough sleep, housework etc. Excuses, excuses! Nathalie is a big inspiration.

Starlafur
October, 22 2014 at 8:53 am

Thank you so much for this and all your other posts. I read them all the time and they keep me grounded to the truth of the matter. Mostly people around me have no idea what I struggle with except my counselor and of course my MD. It can be very alienating. Your courage to be out there in such a public way is what I hope to have one day. Off line I am pretty out about it but not online. Point is I an glad I stumbled over your twitter feed, emails and blogs.
I even decided to go to grad school to be an MSW because I wanted to help people like me. Maybe I just wanted to help me?
My family goes on and on about how high functioning I am and how much better I have gotten. It is all I can do not to outline that I am just a helluva lot better at hiding it. Also, I have strategies for coping that I adhere to. I take meds and I make sure I sleep. I take time for myself. With these protocols in place, sometimes I still curl up on the bathroom floor when no one is home and cry. Nice to know I am not the only one. Cheers!

Liz
October, 20 2014 at 10:26 am

I identify so completely with the exasperation and desperation expressed by so many here. I no longer work full-time because I averaged 18 mos-2 years for my career employment as well. It was as if my external energy only lasted that long. I have a college degree and "could" be doing so much better financially, professionaly, and socially. I am 38 and the "coulds" are what get to me the most right now.

Leslie
October, 14 2014 at 9:47 am

Thank you all so much for the posts! It's so encouraging that my struggle is not totally unique.
I badly want to work FT, but feel scared of again battling constant, unrealistic demands, or feeling too sensitive to handle social situations that suppose.
But I'm building my tool box to handle this disease: giving thanks, accomplishing small projects, earning income, asking for help, acknowledging bp as real and finding (or reading about) others who are successfully fighting bp, too.
May we overcome

Renita
October, 13 2014 at 3:41 pm

My psychiatrist tells me I am high functioning even though I have bipolar 1 disorder. I'm amazed that I have been able to hang on to my job for over 30 years. Before I was on medication I could process massive amounts of work. My employer was so pleased that they'd give me more work to do. That was okay with me because I was a workaholic. I'd also go on wild spending sprees during manic episodes then panic when I sunk into a depressive state because I'd be worried about how I was going to pay my bills. I'd have such a hard time staying on top of things at work, I'd worry about getting fired. I would have to double my efforts and stay late, sometimes very very very late to get my work done. It could get physically & emotionally exhausting at times & I was difficult to be around. I also struggled with an eating disorder. My work assessments were either very very good or very very bad. Since I've been on medication my life has improved drastically. I am so grateful for the help I received but my life is still far from perfect. If I don't eat right, exercise and allow enough time for proper rest I have no energy for a life outside of work. It's hard to be that disciplined all the time. It takes a lot of extra energy just to stay motivated and sometimes I just don't have it in me.

Jessica
October, 4 2014 at 4:19 pm

Im a high functioning bi polar person as well along with adhd.
But, it has gotten worse. Im in law school work and have a family. But all of that seems to be too much at one time. I sometimes just want to sleep all day. Am severely fatigued many times or want to cry for no reason. Bipolar disorder seems to be kicking my ass at times. How do you bounce from the crappy feeling it makes people feel????

Aria
September, 28 2014 at 2:12 am

Yes, yes, yes! I'm also high functioning (BP I, diagnosed in 2001), and I work full time as the primary bread winner for my family. When I'm euthymic or mildly hypomanic, work and school are a breeze, but any swing to the blue side means the "act as if" game starts. It's exhausting. Hiding in plain sight, hoping no one catches you out...there's a constant undercurrent of fear in every functional bipolar, I think. How long can I keep this up? Control my sleep, control my stress and control my diet on top of meds? No matter how well things are going, or how well you plan, how long before the rug is pulled out from under you again? Thank God, I have long term friends who know about me...my best friend snuck a Reese's pieces sundae (my favorite) into the psych ward when I was hospitalized the first time. A support system is crucial. Just like controlling you sleep is a speed bump for mania, having people you can be social with when you're down can be such a relief.

Rebecca
September, 28 2014 at 2:03 am

Hi all,
I am high functioning as well. I am desperately trying to find out what that really means, if anyone else is high functioning.
I study at the moment, and my psychology part is making me look at bipolar, its affects on human development from childhood to adulthood (not a lot of studies I am finding)so if anyone knows where to look...
I have been diagnosed for ten years now. I am medicated and saw a psychologist for many years. I don't drink or take drugs. I am now a mother, student, and wife. I do agree that being aware of "acting normal" can be tiring, but I find I can participate in all facets of society. I have "normal" friends, go on play dates, have bbqs as well as look after a house, pay a mortgage and have my family duties. I cant wait to return to work. My work history has been a bit all over the place. I guess Bipolar I will do that, but I have found the older I get (I am 35) and the more I understand the illness and myself, I am happy and content. I have a great husband who loves me and tells me I am too smart for him lol. I don't have episodes anymore. I can sometimes have a small anxiety attack or feel a little "down" but that's it and it doesn't last past a day.
I hate the stigma still attached to bipolar. Not everyone knows what I have. I guess my only real downer is trying to find others like me, and to keep reminding my poor self esteem that I can continue to achieve. My son is my world and he has made me a better person, and I find my symptoms are even less thanks to him.
Sorry I am dribbling, just the first time I have ever shared. Bec

Jeanette
September, 27 2014 at 5:06 am

It is so refreshing to see that there are more people out there like me - High functioning … I never though of it that way - it is so exhausting and I don't believe the people who know that i have bipolar disorder believe it because I do put on a happy face - i am a great pretender… I think its is part of the disease. I never want my children to remember a mom who could not function due to the disease.
However - I feel like I am losing my battle lately - it is the first time that I have felt so helpless… I am tired - tired of the fight… I feel like I can't do it anymore - I just want to sleep , I just want to stay in bed… I still get up and go…. so I still have some fight in me… I am thankful to find your page and your blog so I can follow and see what others are going thru….

Kari
September, 22 2014 at 2:33 pm

What a feeling when I read this fantastic blog! I am you, only trending in the wrong direction. As a younger woman I enjoyed long periods of hypomania (shorter periods of depression) which allowed me to complete two undergraduate and two graduate degrees. I was successful at work, despite not truly enjoying the job.
I am now 56 years old and since 50, life has just seems to have become more difficult. Stress, suicidal ideation, fatigue, questioning the why (why me, why not go now, why do I stay...), spending weekends like a hermit, sitting with my dogs, playing meaningless games on my iPad, eating whatever is in the house (cooking? as if) and then returning to work on Monday, feeling exhausted and bracing myself for another week.
Sick time is gone, my attendance this past year has been spotty, and I don't know how much longer I can continue.
I'm interested in hearing from others who remember "better times" and/or those who feel their symptoms and ability to deal with life is lessening with age.
Thank you, thank you for letting me put a name to my disorder - I still deny I have B/P Disorder II. How could I have accomplished so much if I was sick? Now I know - it's not BP DO II, it's HF BP DO!
Kudos for your work challenging beliefs such as...those with B/P DO don't take their meds, they're Ca-ha-razy, and they've all done time in an acute psych facility. Okay, so I did take that one ambulance ride, but talked my way out of a 5150 (California Code for involuntary commitment)!

Katy
September, 18 2014 at 10:50 am

I am also considered "high functioning" and I can relate with almost every post here. I am sitting at work right now crying. I have already broken down twice earlier today. I can barely sit at my desk and stare at my computer hoping that nobody notices. I don't want to socialize or small talk. I don't want to be here anymore. I have to work because I am a single mom and don't get any child support either. My daughter is 17, but I still try to hide my depression from her too. I'm also trying to go to school for Esthetics and would love to be able to switch over to that. I love the healing I feel when I am giving a facial or body treatment to someone in a calming atmosphere, but there is no way I can switch jobs even when I done with school for a while because I wont make enough money as an esthetician to pay my bills. I feel I'm barely hanging on and with any little thing my world will come crashing down. It is nice to know that there are others like me. I don't see anyway around my current situation but I also can't see doing this day in and day out and making it. I'm so stuck.

Free Spirit
September, 17 2014 at 11:48 am

Hi I too am very high functioning. I have bipolar and it seems the older I get the more I struggle. For the past 10 years atleast my work history is very unstable. According to others I can not keep a job and I'm a quitter. I laugh nowadays because if only they knew??? Which they do but I show no signs or I'm educated and intelligent or I lead a pretty sane normal life according to them. Or as my ex put it it's all in my head and I'm just lazy. Well he is right about its all in my head but the laziness part, far from it. That's the problem. Whether I take meds or not I tend to run k 're o the energetic, super woman, mom etc, side. And everyone loves me especially when I work. So in turn that is what is expected of me on a daily basis. So when I crash that's when I'm TOLD, what's wrong w you, you are late or not keeping up or as my last job put it, " I am unable to fullfill my job duties and either resign or I was being let go. The first during allh my years of working was I told this.Well it's about time I Said. I've asked for help I let it be known but some how it has to get to me being in a Crisis StaTe for people to hear my words only because they can see it see, I've lost 20 pounds, dark circles under eyes, etc. This is my life . And I'm burnt. I'm back w no job, no home, my boys live w there dad now. All because I'm so high functioning according to all that before I look bad or lose something , no one listens nor believes me. SOS . What part of I'm not doing so well or I'm burnt I need some help in any way,don't people understand. I even tell them how they can help. I'm detailed in my explanations and still I'm on my own w myself putting back the pieces of my puzzle. I'm not a victim nor do I have pitty parties. Well they don't last very long.So when I stay away because I feel they are doing me more harm then good,I'm considered selfish, and there is simething wrong w me. It's come to this w me, love me and support me or get out of my face.plain and simple. I figure as long as I stay true to me and can still love others and be kind open minded and compassionate than I'm as human as human can be.My apologies, I went off on a tangent. One more thing. I can not seem to get any financial assistance like sdi, or ssi or ssdi because their reasons are, I have gone to school and obtained a degree,I have a history of working since age 16 and when I saw their psychiatrist and was asked to remember sequences and who the president is , well what the hell does that have anything to do With any of this. This meaning I struggle at keeping a job due to this mental illness.in school I was always seeing a counselor and my grades were so erratic my counselor even said it makes sense and it is a symptom of bipolar .thanks to the grace of God and perserverance and my boys, is how I got my degree. And trust me myself and all involved went through he'll during that time, be caused I struggled so much. My life now, I'm 41 is lifeless . After all these years I'm finally burnt and tore up from the floor up, all because I function at a higher level than society perceives one with a mental illness should function at. And mind you this includes my family and certain friends. Thanks for letting me share and God bless.

Jeni
September, 13 2014 at 2:11 pm

I also have been to university and have high functioning bi-polar; i do nothing more than take care of my child as a stay at home mom. I cannot manage the stress of anything else, including a normal social life or getting a job. I search job listings all the time when I am feeling good, but when I take steps to obtain the job, I am overwhelmed by the demands and unable to account for the lost years and poor work history/referrals. I am incredibly lonely and feel so inadequate. When people ask what I do, I have to say silly things like "i'm a kept woman!" or "The dog is just like a baby and so I have to be around for her!" My husband both claims I "would never be able to make it on my own if he didn't support me" and also that I "am totally lazy because I don't do enough around the house or for the family". Sometimes he is supportive, though. I cannot be friends with hardly anyone as I cannot reciprocate in the normal way of birthday lunches or helping with their kids and I cannot be friends with other depressed types because my husband does not support any relationship with "abnormal" people. I am very lonely, but obviously dependent. We make too much money for any help from public services, but my husband won't pay for therapy or doctor visits (giant deductible). I am very defeated and unable to connect with the world. Thanks for letting me post.

Kristy
September, 11 2014 at 7:45 pm

I have "high functioning" bipolar and only recently could I admit it can be seriously disabling. I have gone to university but due to a fractured work history and discrimination I have little self esteem left and I am considering a job in a sheltered workshop to make ends meet. Ninety percent of the time I have more energy then others, but I don't handle mornings well. One of the hardest parts of what I go through is people thinking I should get a job when I can't.
Today I am crashing I am too tired to do what I want to do. I feel I have to work so hard just to cope. I am tired.

There Too
August, 23 2014 at 2:21 pm

I have this bookmarked. Read it often and have shared it with certain loved ones who don't understand me. I could have written it. I'm adored at work for my wit, charm, vitality and output. I have to be a leader of the sane and responsible to moody management (and I hear all the irony in my calling them so). And, by the grace of God, I do it. Until I can't. Thankfully, I am perceived so well, I can leave midday on a bipolar darkened day and they assume I'm out working some new great project when I'm curled in fetal position in bed. In those moments, I'm afraid they will call while my brain is telling me I need to die and flooding me with terror.
Dating? My family thinks I must be in the closet. Outside of some manic bad decisions, I can't focus on more than work sleep eat repeat and do not break down...

cristine
August, 18 2014 at 7:12 pm

I also have bipolar I and considered high functioning, graduate degree from reputable school. I try to structure my free time like I do my workday or I find myself sleeping my life away. I know exactly what many of you experience on weekends, feeling too exhausted to accept social invites, staring hopelessly at a week's worth of cleaning and dishes and laundry overdue, rarely entertaining because it means having to expend more energy hiding my mess. I feel relieved to know I'm not the only "successful" crazy out there, makes me feel a little less inadequate. I know some feel offended by saying crazy but sometimes joking about my illness makes me feel sane if that makes any sense! Thank you all for sharing.

Kaidy
August, 5 2014 at 10:06 am

I am at work and I look at people and say to myself if only they knew the person that is handling multi-million deals. The person who is making sure that everything balances. I actually found this link because I just took my second set of meds for the day and I am just depressed as hell. Its kinda nice to know that others experience the same thing that I do, but the downside to that is that I am feeling good because others out there are as "crazy" as I am. I am not a fan of the term "crazy", yes I know I have a mental disorder and faking normal as become a skill that I have mastered at least in the public eye, because once my apartment door closes behind me when I get home I shatter into a thousand pieces. I cry for no reason, its just tiring pretending to be normal. Sometimes the facade I wear fools even me. The part that really sucks is that my apartment door stays closed from Friday evening to Monday morning. I just don't trust myself to interact with other people on the weekend because I am in my own world that time, I have never had to fake normal on the weekend. People actually thinks that I act like I am better than them because everytime I am invited to an event that takes place outside of my work time, you can be guaranteed that I will be rejecting that invitation. I just want to know what real normalcy is once without faking it. Sigh....

Robert
July, 26 2014 at 7:29 pm

Ethan S.: It is something about balance. And it is about initiative. I do deeply realize that these two are extremely difficult to achieve with this illness (and it depends upon the depth and condition thereof). It can be achieved. While I am definitely BPD Type I, I am also a highly functioning autistic with some exceptional level of intelligence - otherwise, I could not have run my own business writing computer software in C++ for 3D CG. So, my predicament is complex. Yours is complex. Simplify the complexity and focus on it. As i said in my previous post, the instinctive drive that keeps me alive is the only thing that drives me to achieve the 'goals' that keep me alive. It may seem antithetical, but focusing on some project or goal or achievement distracts from the depressive state for which BPD is well known. It is sort of a bad solution of using the hypomania to ignore the depression. Not an ideal solution but a constructive one that has helped me cope thus far.

Robert
July, 26 2014 at 7:07 pm

What a precise explanation of my life for the past years. The functioning bipolar lets that 'survival instinct' get into gear to go to work during the week to pay the bills and then gets all depressed on the weekends because time is precious, people are tough to deal with, and you are tired from the pretension that you must exhibit to function. And the current economic/employment situation doesn't make that situation any easier. I spend 6 hours a week just commuting to/from work and work about 50 hours a week. And that is just so I can afford to get that one item in a month that I need because it broke/disappeared/hasn't been fixed in years. My job is truly wonderful and I like my coworkers - but it feels like a sacrifice that I must make to exist and not a comfortable choice wherein I am easily working and vacationing every other month (I have not taken a day off in nearly two years!). And I run a computer programming business geared towards 3D CG on the side (which suffered immensely in the economic downturn). I think that we must equate the rise in the mentions of bipolar disorder with current events which exacerbate our precarious positions. I have been putting on the mask for several years and trying to cope with my condition in a work-related social situation for years now. It is not an easy task. Of late, the specter of giving up and ending this perverse game have been overwhelmingly looming in my mind. Hamlet and all of that. Is the game worth playing if you are losing that badly? (will not quote W.S. since we all know the soliloquy)

chrissyvt
July, 25 2014 at 6:03 am

Thank you so much for putting this into words. I feel this way week in an week out.

Kelli Anderson
July, 18 2014 at 12:36 pm

I wanted to tell you thank you so much for this article. i can't even put into words how it made me feel. i think if i said that you got into my head and put into words what I've wanted to say to people for so long, but somehow it felt so inadequate, and like such....a cop-out...that I've never been brave enough to do it....well, that's what I'd say to you. I'm sitting here with tears running down my cheeks because i don't even know you and yet i feel a bond with you because you get it. you KNOW that feeling inside me that makes me feel broken. that thing that makes me feel like a freak and a liar and lazy and well...no one that's not mentally ill could ever get it. my sister recently said to me, "Kelli you need to snap out of it and get off the couch and go back to living your life the way you used to. You're way to intelligent and you're wasting it." She went on further to say that she wanted me to know she loved me but someone needed to say this to me and it was just going to have to be her. I can't tell you how her words, in a text i might add, crushed me. i love her SO much. and i miss her SO much. but i can't forgive her for those things she said. it hurt me to my core. so, thank you. thank you so much for putting into words what I've never been able to. i feel not only a sense of relief that it's not just me, but also a sense of camaraderie that maybe there are others out there that i could talk with. I used to say, 'it's exhausting just to BE'. But again, you put it in words so eloquently. I just had to thank you. So THANK YOU! I will be following your blog from this point forward.

Bibiana
July, 18 2014 at 5:32 am

I agree with Ethan: we have to consider quality of life.Yes, I technically could push myself to work full time, but I would end up crashing, losing or quitting my job, and worse off than ever. As of now I work part time(VERY part time), go to a day program part of the week, and do some volunteering. I have a decent life with reasonable happiness. I may not have the house, the job, or the other goodies, but I do have things I enjoy, meaningful things to do, and people I care for, including a partner who loves me, and two sweet kitties. And that's not bad.

Daphine
July, 17 2014 at 3:27 pm

Interesting Read

jackie
July, 16 2014 at 2:49 am

hi
ive been biopolar for as long as i remember.
two years ago i wanted to leave this world
i shot myself.
its dificult coping with life and work.
it feels like everyday a part of me is gone.
im having nightmares i cry and scream,but i cant remember anything

Becky
July, 5 2014 at 5:00 am

Thank you for this article.
I too function, almost over function during the week. I love my job and live for the routine of the week
Weekends arrive and I am exhausted but have a racing brain and feel desperately lonely as my friends don't like close and my husband doesn't really chat to me... So I sit up, the hypomania starts to surface and I mull away in my own annoying little brain.
I am not sure quite how to balance this, whether my relationship is the problem or whether this will just work itself out... I am only 3monthd diagnosed. I feel like I functioned much better before I knew and everyone started watching me.. Well my husband really... I welcome the medication and the therapy, I want to manage it. But being treated like a child when I am the breadwinner and very successful is killing me.
Anyway, I am going off track, but I am comforted to know I am not alone :-)

Lala
June, 24 2014 at 4:41 pm

I'm a little offended by this post. I'm bipolar 2, and if you're crazy, I most certainly am not. I have occasional depressions and periods of a little bit happier mood. I have a mood disorder, which I understand and am in treatment for. Calling yourself crazy just encourages the stigma. Crazy people don't even realise they're crazy.

OC
June, 7 2014 at 5:08 pm

Sarah Ryan, if you still read this, what treatment options for fatigue are you talking about? thanks

OC
June, 7 2014 at 5:03 pm

Thank you thank you Natasha and everyone else so I don't feel so alone. I am exhausted and have a hard time returning calls. When I get a little hypomanic I socialize like crazy and develop friendships. I'm able to maintain them for the short while I can be semi-normal, whatever that is. Then I am totally unable to show up for events even though I say I'm going, when the time approaches I am so exhausted I can't move, and call off. I have had occasional days where I can't quite crying and have to call in sick. Other days I function so poorly at work I think it's amazing I can keep this job, but I've been employed for 30 years and previously was relatively successful. Now I feel like I'm on the brink at work, have such a hard time concentrating and remembering what I'm doing or should be doing. Started Adderall a month ago which helps a little in the morning but come afternoon I still can hardly function, think straight. Sometimes my mind is so muddled I'm afraid to drive home. I recently have been listening to podcasts from DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance) and was amazed to hear that recovery is possible and I shouldn't settle for being symptomatic. But my psychiatrist recently told me he doesn't know what more he can do for me. So sad and disheartening. whew. I so relate to Marion. I can do things for my dad, get out of the house and take him on a little outing, but can't do that for myself.

Marion
May, 21 2014 at 1:21 pm

Hi. I'm a 30 biology teacher with bipolar I and ADHD. My father, his sisters, his father, and his paternal grandmother all have/had bipolar disorder. My sister has bipolar I with schizotypal tendencies and ADHD. So needless to say it runs in my family.
I come from an old school Italian family that doesn't put much creedance into mental illness. Growing up was difficult because my father was verbally abusive. When I think of memories of my childhood, they playback as if they all occurred on dreary, rainy days. Even as early as five years old is a time filled with anxiety about school or going to a party and having to fit in.
I never realized I wasn't typical and that my family was extremely dysfunctional. Anytime we went out to eat once my sister was in her teens, she and my father would get into loud and embarrassing fights in the restaurant. These fights spilled over into the house.
I am six years older than my sister and our relationship has been rocky. She is vain, confrontational, manipulative, and not to mention a pathological liar. I was always quiet and timid because of my anxiety and depression, but that changed when I was in college, at around 20 years old. My sister and I would out with different guys, go to parties, and stay up most of the night. This is when signs of my bipolar reared their ugly head. My sister has always been a rebel. She started drinking, smoking, and having sex at 14 years old. This was the first time I experienced a manic episode. My sister was usually manic, with periods of depression; she was always paranoid (when I say paranoid, I mean she refused to spit out her gum because "they" might take her DNA). So both of us being manic meant excessive partying, smoking pot for hours on end, and drinking til we were numb. My personality was totally different, I became rebellious, flirtatious, and promiscuous. My sister and I were on a pleasure bender, and after about three months of sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, and drowning ourselves in alcohol and weed, I crashed.
This was the first time I saw a psychologist. He misdiagnosed me as depressed with acute anxiety. After five years of taking the wrong meds and feeling numb, I went back to smoking and drinking. This eventually caught up with me about three years ago. I was working as a tenured biology teacher; so I was getting by at work. Then, at the beginning of the school year I developed intense social anxiety. I sought treatment, was properly diagnosed, and after two months of intense therapy and weekly psychiatrist visits, I was able to return to work. Talking about everything I have been through, including rape and molestation helped, which is surprising because I am not a big talker. Therapy helps me decompress and it's cathartic.
Do I feel better yes? Do I feel normal? No. I struggle to make sure I do not exceed my 10 sick days at work. With increasing demands and deadlines, I find work more and more difficult.
I live at home with my mother, sister, father, and husband (who is bipolar and collecting SSDI). My father, sister and I all were diagnosed and began treatment within the past three years. My mother and I are the only ones who work. My sister is unemployed, and my father collects SSDI.
Over the past few months, I keep checking teacher retirement information. Working is so hard and I'm always tired. Keeping my temper in check at work and at home is a challenge, but I have to grin and bear it.
The plus is my husband is a good man, and he makes me happy. We both monitor eachother's moods and avoid overspending. I am in charge of all of our medications, insurance information, and his SSDI information. This is more responsibility that wears me out. The thing that keeps me going is helping my mother. She is drowning in a sea of bipolar people, and my father has made her life unnecessarily hard by cheating on her and piling on the debt. So if nothing else, I will be successful for the love of my mother and husband. I have always found doing difficult things a lot more manageable if I do them for the good of my mom because I don't care about myself enough to motivate me.
I'm not sure if any of what I have said means anything, but it's nice to know we're not alone.

Marlena
May, 14 2014 at 11:41 am

I found myself getting only part time work in lower skilled jobs after I got fired from a sales and marketing job when I went off meds. Even then, I went manic, left my job one day and started traveling around the state having a delusional episode. I ended up in jail. After I returned, I decided not to work anymore and my only income now is disability. I will never own a house, my dad died and left me an older car that runs, and a friend gave me a bedroom in his house for minimal rent. I am grateful. Each day I count my blessings. My children and grandchildren are all nearby and I have repaired broken relationships with my sisters. I shop at Walmart, buy food at Aldi and Medicare pays my doctor and pharmacy costs. I do feel unproductive, but am writing a book about my experience with bipolar disorder. Life is what you make it. My faith in God gets me through. I feel some days that I have let this disorder get the best of me, but I can't fight it anymore. Some days I call it surrender; that just sounds a little better. Doesn't it?

Lou
May, 13 2014 at 3:44 am

I have really had my eyes opened by this post and all the comments that have followed. I have been bipolar for over 15 years, although I was misdiagnosed in my early 20s and I left the country during a manic episode caused by antidepressants.
I have had many jobs in my life and my last job, as a teacher and tutor I lost because of a long destructive manic episode. I loved my job and I would give anything to go back and do it again, but since that episode and various stays in hospital I have woken up a different person. I cannot fake it anymore and I used to be so, so good at it.
I have three children, two of them have autism and ADHD. I live with them and my mother in her house and it takes all of my time and energy to get up every morning and make sure they are washed dressed and fed and taken to school. When they are at school I try to focus my mind and get all the chores done, but this is a huge, huge effort. However, my meds have been reduced and I'm starting to get to grips with it. I'm applying for home based voluntary work and hoping that I will be able to get my 'fake' persona back. I was very productive when faking it, but I worry I won't be able to support my children in what they need if I put all my energies into work.
One step at a time I hope to get myself together and become a productive member of society again. Something that eats away at me every day. I spent so long in education and gaining experience and I feel that it is totally wasted and that people are disappointed that I haven't made more of myself.
Thank you again for posting this very honest article.

Jen
May, 10 2014 at 2:31 pm

Wow, I feel differently about where my level of bipolar sits after reading all the comments. I am grateful I have never had to miss work or get so low that I wanted to end it all because of bipolar. I was diagnosed 3 years ago and just coming down from my second episode of mania. I gained weight on lithium so I've been unmediated for the past 2 years. I wanted to learn more about other peoples experience with bipolar because this episode took me by surprise and scared me. It wasn't as bad or damaging as my first episode but this one had no trigger-came out of the blue. I have read that bipolar gets worse if left untreated but the subjects in the study had debilitating bipolar to start with including inpatient stays in hospitals etc. I hope there is a low ceiling on how severe my bipolar gets. I guess I'll just try my best to watch out for signs of worsening and continue to do the risk/benefit analysis on seeking treatment. Good luck to us all in our pursuits of happiness with the additional bipolar balancing burden.

Valerie
April, 28 2014 at 10:43 am

Thank you Natasha-I swear you are my twin. I definitely do alot during the week, with my full time job but come the weekend, the bed is my best friend. Friends ask me to do things, and sometimes I just can't so I say I am sick, not feeling well etc. Honestly they are not excuses it is the truth. The truth sucks though! Thank you for everything you do and for letting us all know we are definitely not alone!

Jo Humphreys
April, 14 2014 at 7:35 am

I had to give up work for that very reason 13 years ago, I have suffered with bipolar disorder for 25 years. By the time I was 25 I had 3 children under 5 and was working full time in a job I despised with people I couldnt relate to at all and was struggling so bad I was always wondering why I couldnt cope as well as other women in my position were. My son was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome at 3 years old and I just felt like I was on a rollercoaster I couldn't get as both my husband and myself needed to work to pay the mortgage. Finally in 2002,my body told me enough was enough and I had a complete breakdown to the point that I was in so much physical pain that I thought I was dying of a terminal illness, and actually hoped I was at that time being so depressed and worn out with life. I attempted suicide a year later after not being able to leave the house or function at all for that whole year and finally I started receiving more help than just being sent away with anti-depressants by my GP. However, I was only diagnosed with bipolar disorder 3 years ago and have since been put on medication and become stable. I have started drawing again and hopefully will be able to make a career out of it. I finally feel like i am living not just existing.

Bob
April, 6 2014 at 10:29 pm

Wow, your post just described my entire 20's & 30's, sadly I am now 40.

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