Living with bipolar disorder has its ups and downs. Okay, I guess that goes without saying, but in this case, I’m not talking about hypo/manias and depressions, I’m just talking about good days and bad days. Everyone has them, although, for people with bipolar disorder they are more exaggerated.
Likely, if you’re in treatment, your down days are lessened, but I think for everyone they still occur. But what happens when you seem to just have downs?
What’s a Down Day Like in Bipolar Disorder?
I think down days vary for each person but what I find, because I’m in treatment, is that full-blown moods don’t tend to occur but some of the symptoms do. And these symptoms can be very severe even if there aren’t enough of them to formally constitute an actual mood episode.
For me, bipolar and physical pain is a major reality on down days as are anxiety, fatigue and racing, negative thoughts (and that’s when the medication is actually working). I know these are symptoms of my bipolar disorder even if they happen outside of official depressions and hypo/manias. And believe me, these lingering symptoms absolutely have the ability to ruin an otherwise perfectly fine day.
And I suspect each person experiences different lingering symptoms of bipolar. We all tend to be so very different.
Down Days Can Lead to Formal Depressions
And there’s no doubt that feeling down, in any way, can lead to feelings of depression and then, perhaps, even a formal depression itself so down days are important to recognize and deal with.
Dealing with Down Days in Bipolar
What I think is important to remember about down days in bipolar disorder – even if you have a lot of them – is that down days don’t last forever. There are ups and downs in bipolar so you will get an up, even if it feels like you won’t. Reminding yourself of this can actually make the down days more bearable. Yes, the pain is here today but it might not be here tomorrow. I just have to make it until then.
[And, of course, if your down days get too pronounced or if you have too many of them, you should definitely see your doctor as it could be the start of something you need to handle more aggressively.]
[One other thing: ideally, you won’t have any lingering symptoms when your bipolar disorder is optimally treated. This should always be the goal because we know that people who have lingering symptoms are far more likely to experience further mood episodes. However, I know this just isn’t a reality for many.]