The Excessive Labeling of Our Bipolar Emotions
Wednesday, November 15 2017 Hannah Blum
The excessive labeling of our bipolar emotions, emotions related to bipolar disorder, can take away the joy of living. Here's what I mean by that.
One of the significant challenges I faced after being diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder was learning the 'correct' way to feel. It seemed that every emotion, idea or feeling I had was labeled as either good or bad. Unfortunately, it always leaned more towards the wrong side.
The excessive labeling of our bipolar emotions leads to not enough living. These are not labels related to bipolar stigma, but rather the labeling of our normal feelings and behaviors; the parts of bipolar disorder we tag as depression, hypomanic or manic.
Bipolar Emotions: How Am I Suppose to Feel?
If I am too happy, I am hypomanic. If I have too many ideas, I am manic. If I am sad, I am depressed. Those of us living with bipolar disorder begin to question every move we make, every thought we have and every word we say. It is more exhausting than the disease itself at times. We spend so much time trying to figure out what label to assign to our emotions or behaviors that we forget to live in the present moment.
After years of being in and out of doctors offices, and coming out more hopeless than I was walking in, I realized that continually questioning my life with bipolar disorder was too exhausting. I am not the only one. When I speak about this topic, I receive a large amount of feedback from people who always feel as though they are in the wrong, when feeling so right. The truth is, when you live with bipolar disorder it is part of our nature to be a bit wild. Bipolar and intense emotions can go hand-in-hand. We fight against it, and we do this by labeling every behavior, and deeming it as inappropriate. We are taught to over-analyze every aspect of our lives, waiting for the golden moment that everything seems completely stable, perfectly organized and routine.
In my opinion, striving to attain that type of balance sets ourselves up for failure. When I am feeling confident, happy and overwhelmed with creative ideas, why should I feel guilty? How is it fair that I have to question my happiness?
Knowing the Difference Between Happiness and Mania, Sadness and Depression
Those of us living with bipolar disorder have to sit down with a pen and paper and draw out a line that signifies to us that we are getting out of control. I have developed a range for myself with specific cues that help me decide when to seek out counseling or make adjustments to my treatment. For example, one of the signals for me is if I go more than three-four days without sleep. Hypomania and depression are a part of my daily life. I have learned to stop stamping them harshly with a label that deems them as bad. Instead, I have accepted this part of my life and learned to manage it to the best of my ability.
Sure there is a chance that maybe my idea of happiness and health is what others would label as manic or depressive. However, that is my burden to bear, and if at the end of the day I can fall asleep saying that I am happy, then I am complete. Labels are for overpriced purses, not for people living with bipolar disorder.