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.
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