It's very common for people with bipolar disorder to be diagnosed first with depression. Very often this is because hypomanic or even manic episodes aren't recognized by the patients as being anything to worry about. They may just be so glad they aren't depressed that they think they're "normal" for awhile.
That's exactly what happened to me. Looking back at my younger years, the depression colors them out so strongly that it's hard for me to see that there were, in fact, high periods as well. I started counseling for depression my senior year of high school, continued with two years of therapy during college, and ultimately it was depression that made me drop out of college. I went back into therapy in my late 20s. That continued for years.
Then over a year and a half came a series of events that crushed me into the most severe depression I'd ever had. My love of 11 years died suddenly, conditions at my job changed for the worse, and a new job I really wanted fell through in a cruel way.
For the first time in my life I could barely function. My inability to concentrate or make decisions got me into trouble at work, and when I got home, I sat paralyzed in my chair until bedtime.
That got me a prescription for Prozac.
The following year was amazing. I'd never had so much confidence. It had never been so easy to smile. I was a new person!
And I remember specifically thinking, "Oh my god, this is what NORMAL people feel like." I had absolutely no idea that I was too high, talking too fast, believing that in spite of too little experience I could easily handle projects that were beyond me - and convincing others I could do them, too.
That mood lasted a full year, then gradually tapered off. It was quite some time before I was brought to realize that it wasn't "normal" to feel absolutely wonderful all the time.
It was a great year - but it was not "the way normal people feel."
Published On: October 13, 2011
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