Anxiety and Bipolar: What It's Like to Have Both?

October 17, 2018 Hannah Blum

Anxiety and Bipolar: What It's Like to Have Both

Anxiety, when you live with bipolar II disorder, accentuates feelings of extreme worry and emphasizes our already existing insecurities. Acknowledging the triggers of anxiety and discussing how it makes those of us with bipolar disorder feel is an essential part of managing our mental health.

Anxiety Triggers When You Live with Bipolar II Disorder

In my experience living with bipolar II disorder, stress and periods of uncertainty trigger my anxiety. It affects my work, relationships and even friendships, periodically.

When I was in school, elementary through college, anxiety was ever-present (read more about school anxiety). I struggled academically, and the pressure to follow the standard curriculum of academics made me feel inadequate. I could be doing an assignment and anxiety would make me physically ill; to the point that I had to be excused from the classroom. Then there were exams which would trigger bouts of severe anxiety. In the days before taking an exam, I could not sleep or eat. Depressive episodes would suddenly appear that left me isolated in my room. It didn't matter how much I studied before a test; the emotional extremes would prevent me from being able to focus on the material.

What Anxiety Feels Like When You Have Bipolar II

Anxiety makes those of us with bipolar II feel alone. It can keep us from doing things that many people do not consider hard, such as grocery shopping. It feels like a roadblock that prevents me from accomplishing my goals. Anxiety emphasizes my fears of failure and disappointment which leads to self-doubt. It acts like a bully inside my head and makes me question everything from what I say to what I wear. The overthinking and over-analyzing elements of a situation are exhausting and unhealthy.

Thoughts and questions race through my mind at a higher speed. It feels like I have to accomplish everything all at once and improve myself overnight, which is impossible. However, over time and with experience, I have realized the power of "letting go". Self-help books, such as, "You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Starting Living an Awesome Life" by Jen Sincero, have helped me cope with anxiety.

I have no control over the way people perceive me and the outcome of certain situations. For me, that's difficult to accept, but necessary for living a good life with bipolar II disorder. Prioritizing projects and focusing on one realistic goal at a time makes me feel less anxious as well.

Anxiety can be debilitating for many of us living with bipolar II disorder, but with hard work and patience, it can be less extreme. We cannot erase anxiety from our lives with bipolar, but we can learn how to manage it. Opening up about the way it makes us feel and sharing different anxiety coping skills and ways of dealing with those extreme emotions is beneficial for all of us living with bipolar disorder.

APA Reference
Blum, H. (2018, October 17). Anxiety and Bipolar: What It's Like to Have Both?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, July 6 from

Author: Hannah Blum

Hannah Blum is the HealthyPlace YouTube bipolar disorder vlogger. Check out her I'm Hannah. I Have Bipolar 2 playlist and subscribe to the HealthyPlace YouTube channel. You can also find Hannah on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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