Obsessions and Bipolar Disorder: Why?

G.J. Gregory Community Member July 28, 2006
  • I’ve heard it said that with bipolar disorder a person either gets into religion or sex. Yes, it’s a blatant stereotype, but there’s a grain of truth there.

    I want to know why.

    Not just religion and sex, but any of the activities many with bipolar disorder engage in almost obsessively. It can be virtually anything for any of us. For me it’s been a long line of activities including work, golf, sports, fishing, sex, programming, writing…

    This brings up another point. There is so little information on bipolar disorder and it’s manifestations. You can Google any bipolar topic and return thousands of hits, but it’s all saying the same things. You get the clinical DSM-IV criteria for diagnosis, and you’ll get the same thing that everyone has tried to write in a more understandable format. You’ll see verbiage from the same studies coming up time and time again. You see the same “warning behaviors” to watch for, hypersexuality, money-spending, drug and alcohol use.

    But I still don’t know if an obsession with sex is a coping mechanism, a form of self medication, or a true physical need brought about by an over-stimulated region of the brain. Or all 3? Or none of the above? And are those of us that turn to religion doing so as a coping mechanism, a way to try and hold ourselves in check? Or are we more spiritual in nature, or accepting of spiritual principles?

    Does the fact that my bipolar disorder seems to run to the manic side of the spectrum make me more vulnerable to these types of behaviors?

    In the last year I’ve personally made great strides in understanding how this illness impacts me, and those around me. But for all this knowledge I am still totally clueless about certain things, the different manifestations, the many ways it can affect and impact us. I can track my moods, can watch for warning signs, and can prepare for manias and depressions. This is incredibly valuable, and potentially lifesaving. But why, when mania sets in, do I feel the need to buy a car?

    Drug and alcohol abuse is easier to understand in some respects. You want to quash the feelings in your head that are bringing you discomfort or pain. But why when already manic does a bipolar reach for speed or cocaine? Something that will feed the pain instead of easing it?

    So many questions. So little knowledge.

    Your thoughts? Share them on the message boards.





10 Comments
  • Anonymous
    G L
    Jun. 05, 2008

    Yes, I get obsessed with different things during my manic stages, and one of them is Jesus, this happens to me about once or twice a year. Then I will become obsessed with something else after that stage has passed. I don't understand why this happens, but I just decided to start googling it this morning to find out, because I am in my manic stage again and...

    RHMLucky777

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    Yes, I get obsessed with different things during my manic stages, and one of them is Jesus, this happens to me about once or twice a year. Then I will become obsessed with something else after that stage has passed. I don't understand why this happens, but I just decided to start googling it this morning to find out, because I am in my manic stage again and am becoming overly obsessed with stuff, and it's beginning to irritate me.

    • Anonymous
      mr jingles
      May. 17, 2009

      i get obsessed alot with things. to be honest i know so much more then most 17 year olds i hang out with. i had to go to a different school because i could not get good grades because i would be obsessed with something and coulnt keep myself on track. now i am an expert on human psycology and the mystical hemp plant. i enjoy treating my brain with some information...

      RHMLucky777

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      i get obsessed alot with things. to be honest i know so much more then most 17 year olds i hang out with. i had to go to a different school because i could not get good grades because i would be obsessed with something and coulnt keep myself on track. now i am an expert on human psycology and the mystical hemp plant. i enjoy treating my brain with some information if i dont then i get really bored and i start to think about scary stuff or really good stuff that is bad for me. i get my episodes really strong where i have delusions like im reincarnated jesus or when im depressed i feel like everyone is going to kill me. who knows those things might be true thats the thing about delusions you just dont know.

    • Anonymous
      WhiteLies
      Jan. 24, 2011

      hi, what you said about you feeling like a reincarnated jesus really hits me. my dad has bipolar disorder and he used to believe that, it was so scary because in his normal episodes he's not a very religious person. it was him but what he said was just... mind blowing. 

      please whatever you do dont push your family away, they will be there to...

      RHMLucky777

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      hi, what you said about you feeling like a reincarnated jesus really hits me. my dad has bipolar disorder and he used to believe that, it was so scary because in his normal episodes he's not a very religious person. it was him but what he said was just... mind blowing. 

      please whatever you do dont push your family away, they will be there to listen to you and dont fall into denial.

  • Anonymous
    The Queen
    Aug. 01, 2006
    Jon- I get obsessed with things very easily. It can be very hard on my family...
  • Anonymous
    maggs
    Aug. 01, 2006
    Let me know when you find the answer to this and the meaning of life too. ***************************************************** LOL - Maggs, you mean you don't know the meaning of life? Maybe it's to serve as a warning to others... GJ
  • Anonymous
    Sage
    Aug. 01, 2006
    Today I am going to attempt to start and keep a chart. Don't know if I can be faithful in keeping it up on a daily basis, but dammit, I'll try.
  • Anonymous
    jane
    Jul. 31, 2006
    I always did downers, ie...reds, heroin. I've never understood how someone could do speed or coke when manic. It wasn't til a few years ago when I found out I was bipolar that I learned I'd been self medicating all those years. But looking back now, it makes all the sense in the world. When I got high, I just felt 'normal'. ***************************************************...
    RHMLucky777
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    I always did downers, ie...reds, heroin. I've never understood how someone could do speed or coke when manic. It wasn't til a few years ago when I found out I was bipolar that I learned I'd been self medicating all those years. But looking back now, it makes all the sense in the world. When I got high, I just felt 'normal'. *************************************************** Jane - for me it didn't much matter what it was, when I was manic I craved "enhancement". That's why I reached for stimulants as well as alcohol or marijuana. I'm forever thankful I never took a trip down a harder road, I'd most likely never have returned. But you're 100% correct, it was self medication. We're all lucky to have made it to the point where we have an understanding of what we're facing, aren't we? So many didn't... GJ
  • Anonymous
    cindy
    Jul. 31, 2006
    GJ, I hope you are feeling well. I am so glad you posted that about obsessions. I had begun to wonder if I could have OCD. My sister has OCD, but my experiences don't seem to line up with hers much at all. You mentioned bipolar and religion. I have noticed after being deeply convinced that I had to make a decision due to religious convictions, that when...
    RHMLucky777
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    GJ, I hope you are feeling well. I am so glad you posted that about obsessions. I had begun to wonder if I could have OCD. My sister has OCD, but my experiences don't seem to line up with hers much at all. You mentioned bipolar and religion. I have noticed after being deeply convinced that I had to make a decision due to religious convictions, that when I feel pressured, fearful, and exaulted it is almost always a result of a manic episode. Not that I don't have a spiritual life, but like other things, these times seem to be manic grandiosity in "the greater scheme of things". cindy ************************************************************* Cindy, I think many of us with bipolar disorder have a touch of OCD. I know I have some, but I know people that are full-blown OCD and I'm nowhere close. And I'm concerned that perhaps my religious analogy came off as maybe slightly negative. I think it's a great outlet, but like anything we have to understand how we're using it. And you seem to have a great handle on this. Thanks again for your comments! GJ
  • Anonymous
    Connie
    Jul. 30, 2006
    Jon, one of the things I know is that I am a curious person. If I don't stimulate the brain, I get bored and overthink everything. In my life I have done many things and studied many things. I do not believe the way we are wired is due to bipolar alone. Each nerve cell has at least 15,000 receptors. The fact that we function is amazing. Life is a roller...
    RHMLucky777
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    Jon, one of the things I know is that I am a curious person. If I don't stimulate the brain, I get bored and overthink everything. In my life I have done many things and studied many things. I do not believe the way we are wired is due to bipolar alone. Each nerve cell has at least 15,000 receptors. The fact that we function is amazing. Life is a roller coaster. As much as we like to believe, it is not all in our hands how we thrive. We are dealt a hand of cards and we are stuck to playing it best as possible. All the stuff we do is a journey. Some beneficial, some neutral. If we have someone by our side who loves us, we are lucky. Freud spelled everything out in blaming sex. What the ****, his main clients were prostitutes! The his students branched out and changed things. Each school of psychology has their own adamant directives. People who don't have bipolar overspend. Sex addict oversex without being bipolar. We need to remember our U>S> morals are rooted in the Puritan code. Many countries are not fixated over sex. It is considered normal and natural. Couples can make out in public and no one points a finger. Naked magazines are out on the newstand and children are educated rather than left in the dark to think wrongly. Bipolar should not be isolated to be a label. Just insight into why we do what we do. The practice is to learn and do no harm to us or others. Yet, we are human and we make mistakes but hopefully we learn. I got PTSD as a young child. Not diagnosed until the 1990s. The disorder was not tagged until 1984. Yes, all the wars had shell shock and whatever but it wasn't until Vietnam and the fact that nurses came back with PTSD that medical profession started looking into it. Now factor in the drugs used, our hostile environment, the shunning and judgement, our daily patterns, the weather, the moon, the food... I try to be aware but I can't always know when the trigger hits and boom I am stuck with the flashbacks. Not pretty. Very scary. So when it happens I shut down and withdraw. I don't lash out cause I eventually recognize it is happening in my head and if I have the guts to see it through, I will see different results. Personally, I gave up on asking why when after my adult children turned against me during my cancer surgery. I did not raise them cruel, mean, and belligerent. I was a good mom and took good care of them and taught them and guided them and let them grow wings but stayed available when they needed support. And it does not matter why we are what we are, at least we have people we can share with and not be ostracized. We are all valuable. Cherish the being we are, warts and all. You are somebody special so just be yourself cause somebody loves you, somebody loves your life. (words from Santana. ***************************************************** Connie, An interesting comment. First, I'll bet your kids turned against you as a defensive mechanism. Cancer is a scary thing, and they probably couldn't handle it. I've seen it happen many times, when my wife gets sick, I get very irritable with her. Yes, I'm a jerk in that respect, but it's nothing I try to do. It just happens. I think that's a defensive mechanism that kicks in for some of us. I hope you're OK now, and that those relationships have healed. On the sex, it's just one of many potential obsessions, just like so many others. And while you don't have to be bipolar to have these obsessions, it seems to be one of the defining characteristics. As always, thanks so much for your insightful comments. GJ
  • Anonymous
    Sage
    Jul. 29, 2006
    Funny that you wish to buy a car and I want to buy a watch. Mine is cheaper but I own over 50 watches. Glad I don't have your fetish! The sex seems constant in most of us though. I feel that is because it is an all encompassing activity when we are engaged in it however the same can be true with the religious zealot. It becomes quite easy to engross ones...
    RHMLucky777
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    Funny that you wish to buy a car and I want to buy a watch. Mine is cheaper but I own over 50 watches. Glad I don't have your fetish! The sex seems constant in most of us though. I feel that is because it is an all encompassing activity when we are engaged in it however the same can be true with the religious zealot. It becomes quite easy to engross ones self totally with a Deity and throw everything into it much the same as sex. How many people who obsess find themselves to be self-proclaimed experts on that subject as well!!! **************************************** Sage, I doubt a more interesting person exists! Your comments always get me going. At least it's easier to walk away without a car, I've done it for the last 4 years. With a watch you don't have down payments, financing, deposits, and so forth. I love car shopping until it's time to take out my checkbook! But you absolutely picked up the point, that we have to be aware of our obsessions, and not let them run our lives. Thanks again for reading and commenting! GJ