Symptoms of Bipolar Mania or Personality Traits?
Typically, when people talk about bipolar disorder, the extent of their understanding and knowledge about the disorder is that we have our ups and downs. We become depressed, followed by an episode of mania (intense energy and ups). Many people who do not live with bipolar disorder or do not have experience with it do not understand that we live with so much more – the good and the bad.
However, I frequently wonder if some of my traits, such as my irritability, is really a symptom of the bipolar disorder as my doctors say, or if these are really just personality traits of mine. These bipolar symptoms, though, that are often thought of as personality traits, are rarely mentioned outside of the doctor's office, and I think that these are very important things to talk about with those in your support system.
Infrequently Mentioned Symptoms
Irritability and explosive behavior: I was diagnosed with bipolar II, and I live with severe irritability on a daily basis. During a manic episode, it is very difficult for me to be out in public. When out in public, especially crowded places such as malls, I feel as if the entire world outside of my brain, such as the speed at which people are walking, is moving much slower than I am, and I can become explosive, feeling as if my body cannot contain all of the energy and irritability that I am feeling. This can also lead to urges to act on dangerous impulses due to the feeling of wanting to crawl out of your own skin and to release this awful energy.
Impulsivity and recklessness: impulsivity often contributes to risky sexual behaviors and excessive spending sprees. A few years ago, I applied for a credit card, and racked up debt to almost $1,000 over a somewhat short amount of time, and I can never keep any money in my pocket whenever I receive it. I buy things that I want, things that I need, and things that aren't even close to things that I like. As for recklessness, I believe this goes hand-in-hand with impulsivity, and it often causes excessive speeding, for example, and feeling as if you can do and conquer just about anything. When I get this way, I drive like a maniac -- the complete opposite of how I normally am.
Obsessive behaviors such as excessive cleaning and obsessive exercising is common due to increased energy levels and reduced need for sleep. My first major manic episode was in 2009, and I didn't sleep for about a week that I can actually remember. I stayed up constantly, reorganizing and thoroughly cleaning my entire house, refolding all linens in the closets, relining all cabinets and drawers in the kitchen, and when I wasn't cleaning, I was looking for new ideas online. I don't remember ever feeling tired. I just embraced this new amazing feeling and rode it out until I knew that something was wrong.
Increased interest in pleasurable activities: due to increased levels of energy, many people often pile on the activities and goals onto their to-do lists – again, feeling as if they can accomplish anything. I clean everything, reorganize everything in my living space, get school work done weeks in advance, and write for hours, among other things.
Tell me, what symptoms do you experience that you wish others could be aware of and understand? Are there any symptoms that you wish your doctors would specifically recognize? Share your thoughts!
Poe, A. (2013, July 23). Symptoms of Bipolar Mania or Personality Traits?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/bipolarvida/2013/07/rarely-mentioned-symptoms-of-mania-or-personality-traits
Author: Alexa Poe
While I personally haven't physically "lost it," I do think about it quite a lot when I get so overwhelmingly irritated and angry. However, I do know quite a few people who do get physically enraged as you describe. I am not quite sure how I can help you since I am not a doctor, but I think one of the best things you can do is to keep seeing your psychiatrist and to attend a form of therapy. Also, I say this a lot because I firmly believe it, always remember that you're not alone and that you're not the only one who suffers with the same things. I'm sure that many readers here and elsewhere experience the same things.
I hope you're well tonight, and hang in there.
I know it can be hard to explain to people, I have the same problem. I hope that this can help you, and I hope your moods become more stable soon.
I'm sorry about being teased and misunderstood by your loved ones. I know that that is always terribly painful. Hopefully now you don't experience such severe episodes of paranoia that causes suicidal ideation, and I sincerely hope you're well.
Alexa is right, it is a constantly changing disorder, meds for me change every 5 or 6 yrs, and added meds when I fall down hard. Then when I come up for air, they go back to the reg 5 scripts a day. Weight gain is a problem for me with many meds. Some of the people I work with are aware of my fall coming about as I tend to laugh uncontrollably, that a red flag for me and people who know me. ( not my family as they refuse to believe mental illness, to them, I choose to be this way. I could will it away like quitting smoking or something) spending? I wish it was only a few thousand, its Not!!
I take inventory at stores, ( my obsession) I can tell you where to buy, and for how much, and if a store has what you want.!! I've had this depression, Bi-polor, since age 16, it has now progressed to Borderline Personality Disorder. ;-(
Driving is my release but you can find me driving 100-120 mph if I'm upset.
I'm babbling now I'm sorry. I find it helps if I just tell people my meds are not working well, if I'm having a problem. I'm not embarrassed about my illness, I'm up front about it. That way, people either like me or go away. I also cut, but have gone as long as 34 years between those episodes of (Self hatred to the extend of using serrated knifes)
I wish they would change the name, instead of "Mental Illness" to brain in balance or thought process disorder, something that sounds more real, or definitive , mental illness has a bad connotation from so, so, long ago, it scares people. Or your just thought of as a "Wing-Nut" ;-/ thanks for listening or reading if you got this far. ;-) P.S. I'm 55 now.
I never really thought too much about the laughing uncontrollably as a sign. This happens to me every so often and leads to episodes, but I never thought to associate the two. Also, I understand that self-hatred and self-injury very much, and it's amazing that you've gone so long in between episodes!
Again, thank you for commenting and sharing, and I hope you're doing well!
I hope you're well!
I hope things really turn around for you. Remember that you are never alone, regardless of how you may feel.
Hang in there, and I hope you're doing well!
I sometimes wish I had the obsessive cleaning and organising issue, or exercising-at least it would be useful! I can't even finish doing the dishes without getting distracted....hahaha!
Then when I'm down-well good luck getting me out of bed.
Still, I accept and manage how I am and consider myself to be a sort of organised chaos. I have to be careful not to overload myself with mountains of things to do.
What I find hard is that bipolar is considered to be highs and lows- it makes it sound like the highs are somehow positive....mostly I found them downright unpleasant, unsettling, uncomfortable.
I hope the two of you are well, though, and keep in touch!
Self hatred is another thing that I deal with on a regular basis. I hate myself for being angry, upset, emotional, or when I just can't do something like I expect to be able to.
Thank you for sharing, and I hope you're doing well!
Again, thank you for sharing! I hope you stay well!