I have Bipolar II. A lot of people think of this as "less severe" than Bipolar I, and in some ways, it is. We don't have hallucinations. I don't hear voices telling me I'm a terrible person; I don't see non-existent people sitting on my balcony railing. And we don't have delusions. I'm not convinced that the FBI is spying on me, or that people are following me everywhere I go.
We don't have mania, we have hypomania. Hypomania is not so far out there that hospitalization is needed. That doesn't mean it can't have serious effects - I overspent my income last year by thousands of dollars buying things I didn't need. (A manic person, on the other hand, might buy two or three cars on the same day and be in a lot deeper hole than I am.)
What we do have that is often more serious in Bipolar II than Bipolar I is long, drawn-out depressive episodes.
Not only that, but even when we come out of serious depression, we're less likely to feel "good," and over the years, that gets worse.
A "good" day for me isn't one where I really enjoy my life - that's a "great" day. A good day is when I don't have to fight with myself to stay out of bed, to do the dishes, to do all the work I get paid for.
A good day is when I don't put off running my errands, when I don't forget to clean my cats' litter boxes. If I actually do some vacuuming or wash the kitchen floor, it's a triumph.
A great day is when I get a whole lot done and don't beat myself up over all the things I haven't gotten done during all the good - and bad - days.
It's a long, long time since I've put together even two great days in a row. I think my recent record for good days in a row is five - and it was followed by five bad days.
It didn't really surprise me when I read study results saying Bipolar II was just as disabling - for different reasons - as Bipolar I. We have, in general, longer and deeper episodes of depression. When the worst of the depression goes away, we still don't feel as "good" overall as people who don't have BP.
Yet I don't find this depressing as much as liberating. It's not my fault. It's still my illness. That doesn't mean I get to quit struggling and give in, but it does mean I don't have to blame myself for needing to struggle.
Does this sound at all like your Bipolar II? Share your experience and thoughts. I have more to say about Bipolar II and welcome your insights and topic suggestions. Comments below...
Published On: April 28, 2011
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