Most of us have experienced some type of mood swing. For some of us, the extreme emotion may have led us to exclaim: “Wow, where did that come from?” Whether it involves intense anger or sadness, I know for myself that it is when I am driving in traffic on I-405 that I experience some type of intense anger and frustration. Sometimes it can overtake me and lead me to make rash decisions, such as honking at someone or cutting someone off. Mood swings are a natural part of everyday life for every person. We can feel sadness and happiness at the same time, but most of us live in a middle ground of emotions. This is also true of the emotions that “overtake” us, as most people don’t go to either extreme.
But bipolar is different – it is extreme. Bipolar means that someone lives in the extreme ranges of energy, namely, extreme depression and extreme mania. This is beyond the “normal” range and beyond the brain and the body’s capacity to handle. This extreme energy affects both behavior and thoughts, making them negative for those individuals who live with bipolar.
Here are some commonly accepted descriptions of bipolar symptoms.
“Bipolar mania, hypomania, and depression are symptoms of bipolar disorder. The dramatic mood episodes of bipolar disorder do not follow a set pattern — depression does not always follow mania. A person may experience the same mood state several times — for weeks, months, even years at a time — before suddenly having the opposite mood. Also, the severity of mood phases can differ from person to person.” (WebMD)
“Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. Hypomania is a mood that many don’t perceive as a problem. It actually may feel pretty good. You have a greater sense of well-being and productivity. However, for someone with bipolar disorder, hypomania can evolve into mania — or can switch into serious depression.” (WebMD)
“At first when I’m high, it’s tremendous … ideas are fast … like shooting stars you follow until brighter ones appear… All shyness disappears, the right words and gestures are suddenly there … uninteresting people, things, become intensely interesting. Sensuality is pervasive, the desire to seduce and be seduced is irresistible. Your marrow is infused with unbelievable feelings of ease, power, well-being, omnipotence, euphoria … you can do anything … but somewhere this changes.” (WebMD)
“The fast ideas start coming too fast and there are far too many … overwhelming confusion replaces clarity … you stop keeping up with it … memory goes. Infectious humor ceases to amuse. Your friends become frightened … everything is now against the grain … you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and trapped.” (WebMD)
“Some people with bipolar disorder become psychotic when manic or depressed, hearing things that aren’t there. They may hold onto false beliefs, and cannot be swayed from them. In some instances, they see themselves as having superhuman skills and powers — even considering themselves to be god-like.” (WebMD)
“If you have periods of unusually high energy and high mood along with three or more of the following mania symptoms most of the day — nearly every day — for one week or longer, you may be having a manic episode of bipolar disorder.” (WebMD):
Mania (taken from WebMD)
- Racing thoughts
- Needing less sleep in order to feel rested
- Talking very rapidly or excessively
- Tendency to show poor judgment, such as impulsively deciding to quit a job or giving car away
- Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity — unrealistic beliefs in one’s ability, intelligence, and powers; may be delusional. Thinking they are “God’s only voice in the world.”
- Reckless behaviors (spending sprees, sexual preoccupation, alcohol, or drug abuse)
Depression (taken from WebMD)
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once pleasurable, including sex
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
Bipolar is a very extreme, but healing is possible. The bible does not talk about bipolar, but it does talk about the war going on in our body and our heart. Bipolar is a mind at war against itself and God wants to bring peace to our lives. It is very clear that He wants to bring peace to our minds and hearts. Bipolar is very real, but healing is also real. Healing becomes real through the use of medication in combination with counseling – both are needed, for one would not work very well without the other. Bipolar is a difficult and lifelong disorder that can be managed. This is done by means of medications that address the missing chemicals in the brain, while Christian counseling addresses the hopeless, anxious, and depressed feelings that it brings. It also helps to set boundaries when managing the symptoms of mania. A compassionate and stable therapist is a must as you go through recovery. The understanding and relationship provided by a Christian counselor is vital during extreme times. The therapist brings perspective but also provides support, both when times get lonely and when things are going well.
If you or a loved one resonate with this article, you need to know that help and healing is possible. Healing comes in many forms, but in my professional experience it comes from both medication and counseling. The first thing is to schedule a counseling appointment, while at the same time arranging to see a psychiatrist (which can take longer to arrange). Counseling and medication together can lead to stability so that the extreme ranges become more “normal.”
Christian Counseling Provides Hope for People Living with Bipolar Mania
As a Christian counselor, I have had the privilege to walk with clients as they heal from bipolar. I have seen individuals that have been in and out of hospital and now have successful careers. I bring a compassionate and deep understanding to individuals struggling with this complex and difficult disorder, while also bringing an element of spirituality into the session. To find out more about how Seattle Christian Counseling can help you to overcome your mania depression, please contact me. My contact information is below.
“Depression,” courtesy of ryan melaugh, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “All in one . . .” courtesy of #L98, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Theatreland Masks,” courtesy of Garry Knight, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)