I have bipolar disorder. When I’m depressed I draw in, shut down, and don’t function well. This is noticeable, this causes people to provide support and watch out for dangerous symptoms.
On the other hand, mania is a whirlwind of a time! Money comes, money goes – who cares if I spend it? Especially if it’s on someone else, because that’s awesome for everyone. I’m up, I’m energetic, I’m bright. It’s a fun, adventurous time. Actions don’t have consequences when I’m manic, so let the good times roll.
So why would people worry, I’m obviously feeling good, right?
Mania can be just as dangerous. What to do when you can’t pay the rent because “Money comes, money goes” led to massive over-spending? Those consequences you forget about come home to roost some time. Eventually your health can and will suffer from that lack of sleep and crazy hours. Keep a job, keep a schedule, keep anything resembling a normal life when you’re manic? Yeah, right. I could go on for days about the after-effects, or the current impact, of a manic cycle but I trust you get the point. It’s never the sweetness and light that it seems in the moment.
Sure, it felt good at the time, but it can really lead to some dangerous behavior, and people don’t know how to watch for it or recognize it as wrong like they do with depression. So there’s a danger equal to that of suicidal depression, that masquerades as a great sensation so it gets a free pass as it’s happening. There’s nothing that generally seems “wrong” during a mania phase, so why would you reach out for help? There’s no hotline to help, nobody’s going to call you out about it usually, and even if they do what’s the harm in ignoring their advice?
I’m very lucky – I’ve found meds that generally keep it in check, I have a support network that knows how to identify the wrongness and help me deal, and I’ve learned to spot the symptoms and realize something isn’t normal. But that took many years and some bad circumstances, situations I never want to find myself in again.
Bipolar isn’t just depression, the pendulum swings both ways, and both cut deeply.