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3 Stories of Rapid Cycling

Rapid cycling feels like a roller coaster

Rapid cycling is defined as four or more manic, hypomanic, or depressive episodes in any 12-month period. Rapid cycling occurs in 10-20% of all people with bipolar disorder, and is more common in women (read this article for more facts about rapid cycling). 

Bipolar disorder varies greatly from person to person. Similarly, rapid cycling can also mean different things for different people. To meet the clinical definition, there must be 4 episodes in a year. But some individuals can experience multiple mood shifts in the same day (for a visual depiction of this, check out the graphs in this article). Rapid cycling can also vary in how consistent it is: some people see the same patterns year after year, and for others it seems to be random. In this article we will hear from 3 different perspectives:

  • Melanie, who often experiences several cycles in the same day 
  • Lauren, who’s rapid cycling changes throughout the year
  • Lyndsay, who consistently has around 4 mood shifts per year 
What does rapid cycling feel like? 

Melanie: For me, rapid cycling is when I experience multiple “highs” and “lows” in a day. I am an extreme rapid cycler and I have several mood shifts throughout the course of a day. It’s really hard to handle, and it’s exhausting, as someone who works full time in an office setting. It doesn’t change minute to minute, but it sure feels that way! It really affects my energy levels and how I interact or want to interact with other people. 

Rapid cycling feels like your mind is playing tricks on you. You are sad one minute, hyper the next, giddy, and then back to sad, teary, and wanting to hide. It’s very confusing and it’s scary how fast your mood can change and change and change. You feel like your moods are changing so quickly and you don’t know when you will feel “right” again. It is one of the most frustrating parts of having bipolar disorder. 

I have to say that I have had to become a very good actress and very good at suppressing my moods at work, and as a result, at the end of the work day, or on the weekend, the moods can be more severe. I become frustrated with how emotionally labile I am, and I feel terrible that I have anger outbursts, am agitated and rude when I am in a  hypomanic state, or that I am “useless” and amotivated when in a depressed state, i.e. unable to cook, clean, empty the dishwasher, put things away etc.”

What is also confusing and frustrating about rapid cycling is that you can be anxious regardless of what state you are in. Or at least, that’s what happens to me. 

Lauren: Rapid cycling feels like a large roller coaster- but one that is never ending, with highs and lows of unknown duration and height/depth, going around over and over again. The depression of knowing you’ll fall, and the happiness when you’re climbing up, the anxiety when you realize you’re going to start falling again any moment.

Lyndsay: It feels painful (mentally and physically), stressful, scary, and dramatic. Most people think mania is great, but it’s not. During my manic episode, I spend a lot, I can’t feel any emotions, I shut people out, I’m impulsive, and I’m mean. Then I cycle into a depression, and it’s a quick transition. It’s usually a mixed episode for a couple weeks (both manic and depressed), and turns into full-blown depression. That’s when I deal with the repercussions of the mania. I’ll have spent all my money and find myself in severe debt. My relationship will need mending. My physical health will deteriorate. Imagine experiencing the mania to depression (back to mania) four or more times a year. It’s exhausting. And it hurts. It hurts my brain and it hurts my body. I think the worst part is knowing that it’s going to happen. No matter how hard I try to treat it in advance, it always happens; and I never know the severity in advance.

How often do you “rapid cycle”? Do you have mania or depression more often? Has it changed over time? 

Melanie: It depends on the day. I notice that on a typical work day, I start off in a hypomanic state, I am okay for a few hours, then I feel a wave of sadness after lunch, then I have trouble focusing for the rest of the day. By the time I leave work, I can be a little hyper, and my mood will change again. Sometimes I get so hyper by the end of the day that I have trouble sleeping. 

I first noticed the rapid cycling a couple of months after my diagnosis. Initially, my “main” state was hypomania. After a couple of years, it changed to depression. I am not sure if this had to do with life circumstances and events or if it’s “normal” for this to change over time. I do notice that when I am under stress, my predominant state switches to “hypomania”, because in that state, you feel “invincible”. 

My rapid cycling involves multiple cycles throughout a day. The day will end with whatever the predominant mood is. Under stress, I am very hyper and have difficulties sleeping, experience insomnia and of course, this is a dangerous cycle in and of itself! 

I think my rapid cycling will change again and again, depending on what is going on with my life. 

Lauren: My rapid cycling varies- in the summer I get longer but more frequent lows, and in the winter I get higher and more frequent highs. My cycles could change on a weekly or monthly basis. Sometimes I feel ahead of the game and my meds are on track, other times it’s a guessing game and I can’t keep up. I’ve had several major depressive episodes, which add even more frustrations to the mix. Because of this, I usually have to adjust my medications several times a year. The doctors I’ve seen said this might just be my new “normal”.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar type 1 over 13 years ago, when I was 18, but it wasn’t until a few years later they determined it was rapid cycling. It’s been suggested that I had child onset bipolar, but since they didn’t think that was possible at the time they just called it ADHD. So honestly, I don’t remember a time in my life when I was “normal”. I remember getting in trouble a lot growing up, and not being able to control my emotions, but also not really knowing what my emotions even were in the first place. I look back on it now and honestly remember it as living in a haze until I was diagnosed properly and started on the correct medications. 

Lyndsay: My rapid cycling is generally four times a year with little episodes in between. I would explain my episodes throughout the year like this: Every spring (March/April), I cycle into a manic state. My doctors and I assume it’s because of the time change, plus spring is “happier” than winter. I experience this mania for about four months, until a depression cycle comes along in August. I’m curious if this could be related to the start of school, as life changes from fun and playful to busy and structured. I become stable in October and stay that way until January when I find myself in a depression. Mania hits again in March/April. It’s like clockwork.

As I’ve gotten older, I find myself having more manic episodes than depression. I live in Southern California, so the abundant sunshine helps A LOT with managing depression (plus my sun lamp). When I lived in Ohio, the winters would generally be a time of severe depression. 

It seems that all people with bipolar would experience this, but they don’t. My brother, for example, has bipolar disorder and generally cycles once or twice a year (between hypomania and depression). The important thing to remember is that there are multiple types of bipolar disorder. My brother is generally depressed most the time; but he’ll have a few hypomanic episodes here and there (they do not last long). Plus, he’s never experienced full-blown mania.

Do you have any tips on how to cope with rapid cycling?

Melanie: I try my best to avoid triggers like negative people, too much sugar, anxiety-provoking situations and too much stress. And don’t watch the news before bed! 

It is hard to avoid stress, especially family emergencies and there is always “the unexpected”. You have to figure out what calms you down. I highly recommend meditation or hypnosis (hypnotherapy- it’s not what you think it is- not how it is portrayed on TV!). I have learned many techniques to calm down, even if it is short-lived from hypnosis. One technique that I tell people to try is counting backwards from 25, and picturing yourself writing each number down on a blackboard, one at a time, and erasing each number before writing the next. Visualization exercises help. And don’t forget to breathe. Another good one is counting backwards from 25 and picture yourself walking down a staircase, one step at a time. And each time you write down a number or walk down a step, take a deep breath! 

Breathing is important. It is very scary when your heart is racing and you feel nauseous from anxiety, because you feel like you can’t breathe. I think if you can stay calm, maybe your moods won’t change as often, or you can make it slightly more bearable for yourself.  I also recommend finding a hobby, or a distraction. Distracting your mind is very important. Recently, I bought adult “colouring books” and have been enjoying colouring in them and find it relaxing. Journaling or blogging is another great outlet- writing your feelings feels like I am getting the thoughts out of my system. 

Lauren: Some people keep a log, but that can be difficult if you have a lot of cycling, so I get help from family and friends. My spouse has bipolar as well, and is able to clue me in on different changes so we can tackle them head-on. I also try not to get upset with myself if I get into a depression funk. I have little notes around my bed so when I wake up I can see them and remind myself that it’s not permanent. Sometimes the switch in cycles is so quick, I wake up feeling a complete 180 from the day before. I’m not going to lie, some days it’s really hard to be a functioning human, but somehow I always come out ok.

Lyndsay: Visit your doctors every single month, no matter what. I used to think I only needed to see my therapist and psychiatrist when I was depressed or needed medication. Boy, was I wrong. Seeing my therapist regularly meant she could see my cycling before I could. This happened multiple times. It’s important to have someone who is unbiased (and truly, just someone else) to tell you when things are changing. We don’t always recognize it until it’s too late. By seeing your doctors regularly, together, you can catch an episode before it happens. This usually results in tweaking medication or seeing your therapist more often. That may sound awful to some, but it will help you get through the episode/cycle with minimal effects (to yourself and your loved ones).

Also, keep a mood journal. I never realized how “scheduled” my episodes were until I started keeping a journal. It was only then that I knew when I would become manic or depressed, which helped me to plan/prepare in advance. It’s made such a difference.

As for coping, don’t shut people out. I used to do that, and it only made things worse. I had to learn how to let people in, and it took me a while (by a while, I mean years). It’s much easier to handle the episodes with someone stable around you. For example, during a manic episode, my boyfriend will monitor my spending and take away my credit cards (not forcefully; we made this agreement before the episode). When I am depressed, he will be calm and understanding, and know to get me ice cream when I need it. It helps tremendously to have someone who understands the best they can, and that only comes from allowing them to come into your life completely.

What do you wish other people knew about rapid cycling?

Melanie: I wish people knew how exhausting it is. It really is like being at war with yourself. You are fighting with your mind. You want to find a neutral state, but it’s very difficult when your moods keep shifting, shifting, shifting. It’s very hard to find “a happy medium” and to find calm when your mind is always in flux.  

Rapid cycling is frustrating, and can seem scary and confusing to the person who experiences it and the people around him/her. The best way to help someone who experiences rapid cycling is to just be there! Be there by offering a hug, being patient, learning about it and lending an ear. Anyone who wants to support me, has to be willing to 1. Educate themselves and 2. Listen. 

Lauren: I wish there was a way to read it better, not just for other people but for myself as well. Sometimes people don’t get it, they will remember I was depressed/upset, and then if I am suddenly happy, but then get down again, they just give up and get frustrated that they can’t read me or track how I am. It’s not like there is a countdown timer going for each cycle. If it’s frustrating for them, how do they think I feel?

Lyndsay: I wish other people knew that rapid cycling is a part of bipolar disorder, and I don’t need pity. That might sound harsh, and I don’t mean it to be. I don’t want people walking on eggshells around me, no matter the episode I’m in. I’m not “crazy” and I will be okay; it’s simply a part of my life. If I had an employer, I would hope they would somewhat understand that I will cycle frequently, and I’ll either need time off or need accommodations. Though I suppose that’s the reason I am self-employed. I’ve gotten used to the idea that “other people” won’t understand bipolar disorder or what I go through; but I don’t expect them to. I used to get really upset at people’s ignorance, but you’ve got to understand that they don’t experience what we do, so how would they know? And that it’s okay for them not to know. As long as they try to understand, that’s enough for me.

Comments

Your words are a source of strength for many! Bless you!

My spouse and I stumbled over here coming from a different page and thought I
might as well check things out. I like what I see so now i'm following you.

Look forward to looking over your web page repeatedly.

there's some days I felt like crying even no reason why I felt this way other days get so mad feeling angry not getting any respect from no one take my anger out of my love ones get tempted hurt someone get violent but most other days mostly feel happy and calm. now doing much better at it happy where I am at want stay happy in peace near feature.

I was officially diagnosed with bipolar in my late teens (at least diagnosed with depression, anxiety, Borderline Personality). As a person who was born in the early 80s I quickly realized in grade school I had issues with sitting still, talking, concentrating, etc. However, ADHD was not as mainstream (for lack of better word) as it is today, and being a kid on Medicaid back in those days didn't exactly get you good treatment in any form. It wasn't until I was an adult and really struggling at jobs that I mentioned ADHD to my psych and was diagnosed with that as well. I have horrible anxiety that seems to get worse as I age or maybe as hormones alter. I, also, have the pleasure of rapid cycling like Melanie. Just over the last few years I've noticed more social anxiety, more irritability, more burst of anger (yelling or throwing a fit like a child), ups and downs and downs and ups, etc. I consider myself a good actress bcuz, I work in an office setting too where people can be jerks. I hid it pretty well at work and around some family. My husband tries to be understanding, educated about it, etc. and sadly since I conceal most of the day some is directed his way. I agree with the others... it is SO exhausting and I feel like I'm always trying to analyze my behavior so I may adapt and try to appear "normal". Little things can bring me down and up. I find myself being okay in the am... an hour or 2 into work getting irritable and crabby. Later in the workday more manic until after being home for a bit, eve varies, late eve towards bedtime often manic but, sometimes down and questioning everything little thing I said or did that day. I've noticed myself being more withdrawn/flaky, cynical, condescending, etc. over the last few years. I'm medicated mostly for anxiety and adhd... We've been TTC so, I stopped taking Topamax (which was the one that helped me) bcuz it has a high risk for birth defects in the 1st. It's been fun trying to manage without it and I didn't like my other options for meds. That's a snip-it of my story. Thanks to all for sharing theirs and helping each of us not feel as alone in our battles. We got this! Sorry for the novel. :)

My daughter who is now 13 but started showing symptoms at age 9. She too has ADHD, she has severe depression and she is bi-polar. A great deal of the time she rapid cycles. I have been trying hard as a parent to wrap my head around what this all means for her. Because of puberty I do not know how much of all this is magnified at this time in her life. The schools do not seem to understand what she goes through or how best to help her. Most of the stories here are adult with a few mentions of when they were a child. I'm not sure society is right in trying to make a bipolar individual fit within the same norm as the rest. My husband (also bi-polar but undiagnosed) compensates by working nights. Any incites that anyone can offer regarding better ideas for educating youth that are experiencing bi-polar symptoms would be helpful. You mention anxiety and Amy has trouble with every task. She finds walking out of the house to be more than she can handle some days. Thank you in advance for any incite that will help my child.

She was first diagnosed with ADHD but that all changed when her dad(my brother) and myself have bipolar disorder. Her doctor said that bipolar in teens and children manifeste differently and mistaken for ADHD and or depression. Her doctor psychiatrist Now is working with her to better understand her new diagnosis and to build a treatment plan for her that includes the right medication and behavioral therapy. The ADHD medication she was first prescribed was making it worse!! Because she did not have ADHD. She tried killing her self a few times and has horrible anxiety and irritable. Very short temper. She’s always either up or down and seems to rapid cycle a lot. But now she’s getting the right treatment. I hope everything goes well for your daughter and just know your not alone. I wish i was properly diagnosed when i was her age. Would’ve saved us a lot of heartache.
I suffer from bipolar 1 disorder with rapid cycling w/ psychotic Features . So I understand what she’s going through. I hope your husband gets help. It sure makes life easier to manage with the proper medication and treatment.

I think you are all doing great. I swing up and down each week, 2 or 3 days. Mixed, hyper manic and
severe depression. I focus on basic things like keeping my body clean, fed and alive. I have no idea how any of you are able to work.

I rapid cycle 2 weeks up 2 weeks down. I can't function when I am depressed. Even going into the bathroom is a struggle.

Feel like nobody truly understands how hopeless I feel when I'm down.

My 'up times' are feeling just happy... Not manic! Can anybody relate to this?

A couple of months ago I was hospitalized for the first major depression I've had since 2005. And over this past weekend (after weeks of feeling okay/good) I gradually got to the point of hopelessness and worthlessness for at least two days... My mom thought she was going to have to drag me to the hospital again. Luckily her tears and frustration got me out of bed to eat and interact with a friend who didn't see my message canceling her visit. No eating, ignoring any phone calls... Just laying in bed unable to talk much and dealing with incessant negative thoughts. I can totally relate. I wish you more peaceful days than the days you live in hell on Earth. Take care and keep ticking... live for the happy days and reflect when depressed.

I was diagnosed with rapid cycling BD 26 yrs ago (I am 56 yrs of age). I completely understand where you are coming from Jenny. My pattern tends to be 6 weeks of feeling good/happy and then 3 weeks of depression, when life is such a struggle I become totally reclusive and remain in bed for the most part (like you just going to the bathroom becomes a major task). When I feel 'good' I don't consider myself to be in a state of mania (I just feel normal). During depressive states I can't help over self-analysing how different I feel. I begin to question the 'real' me and consider my actions when I thought I was well. I just don't know who I am! I wonder about my combination of meds, though my doctor advises these are good. Just feel totally helpless about my life as it is!

Karen, this is so me! I do so good and then bam!, it hits, and I am down for the count. I feel like I can do nothing right, and that I am so far below everyone! I can't move, I have severe migraines, anxiety, and my no is through the roof. In the past, I was up and happy more than down, but I am 42 now, and life is kicking my butt. I try to always "be" happy and put on a smile, but inside,I'm just not good. I am,positive that I cycle, and I need to get in to see a therapist. My reg Dr has diagnosed me with major depression and anxiety, but I think they have it wrong

jenny, i really do understand what the lows are like.
i have wanted to end my life many times, but i ask for help
anddo my best to stick around.

I definitely relate to this. When I'm in a depressive state all I can seem to manage is sleeping or at least that's all I really want to do because I feel so exhausted. I can't even seem to accomplish simple and basic tasks and just feel like I'm in a daze. It's so frustrating to be in this state again because I know what it's like to be in my hypomania episodes where I am so productive, organized and motivated. However, I have made the commitment to therapy and meds again and am blessed to have a very supportive family so hopefully I will see the light at the end of the dark tunnel fairly soon. My prayers and thoughts are with you and just like I did I hope you take some comfort in knowing you're not alone.

Although my down cycle is not as bad as yours I can manage normal functions - bathing, getting up and ready, going to work but it's just very difficult to get work done due to being slowed down mentally and very difficult to concentrate. Part of that is fighting the constant battle with rumination of depressive thoughts and staying on course that they are not real and I will be fine. But Yes, the cycle is exactly 2 weeks for me, I use iMoodJournal app to track moods, which also let's you save your selfie, I can see how my facial expressions change when I am on up cycle - just happy like you mentioned vs down cycle when I am depressed.

I rapid cycle 3 months up and 3 months down so I can totally relate to you

I probably only shower once a week in a down, but my kids are clean everyday... I have told my husband how much I love hypomania as I imagine it's how a "normal" person feels. Unfortunately for me if it lasts more than a couple of days the depression can be months x

It is a disabling condition..after many years of experimenting have found that more meds is not a better approach..if your cycles are quick mine are every 3 days or so like clockwork i use ultra small doses of lamactil every 3 days which triggers my mood to switch..being that i do not have fill blown mania it does affect my sleeping cycle but if i use medications on a daily basis after a very short time they stop working..i treat my condition as u would a migraine hit it when necessary..this form of bipolar spectrum disorder is difficult as many or the medications today can intensify the symptoms ..changing the circadian rhythm might be the right approach so am doing extensive research as if most doctors do not think outside the box make sure U do..hope this helps ones that are suffering its very difficult

Interesting update DAVID - Have you seen improvements on this bespoke way of taking meds.
I RC from week to week and and desperate to tune my meds more effectively.

Any advice /thoughts on this I would really appreciate your thoughts.

I haven't been officially diagnosed yet. But I started back in therapy today for what I thought was just depression. The psychologist mentioned a possibility of rapid cycling bipolar disorder and after reading the 3 stories above I felt like I was reading my own story. I'm hoping I can finally be diagnosed correctly bc for so many years I've felt "crazy", and if this is it then I'll know how to handle it from this point on.

I can totally relate to Melanie's story so much, it helps a lot knowing i'm not alone. Thank you for all the great solutions you all provided.

I was diagnosed 3 years ago when I was 36. I have BP2 with rapid cycling. I also have ADHD. My mood used to shift up to 5 times a day sometimes. I would start out feeling high on life then a few hours later: wham! felt so low and then back up again.
I've been on meds for three years now: adderall, lamictal for the depressive state, and geodon for the hypomania. They have helped some, especially the geodon. I don't really get extremely hypomanic, but I do still get into depressive states. I don't really get sad, just kind of hopeless and lethargic and I beat myself up for not being normal. I also have some days when I get very easily overwhelmed by all the basic things I need to do: cook dinner for my family, chores, etc.
I am also suffering from insomnia and take Ambien occasionally. I can't figure out which medication is causing it but I am afraid to go off them because I don't want to spiral.
And thanks to all of you for sharing your stories. Makes me feel less alone.

ADHD meds are notorious for causing insomnia.

I self diagnosed myself as Bipolar II (confirmed by pshycs) thanks to my bipolar I best friend and my bipolar 2 friend a few years ago. After I realized that I was bipolar I started finding similarities between bipolar individuals that go beyond the 'tell tale' mania and depression. I've found myself being able to spot the bipolar 'burden' in other people that I get to know and have contacted many old acquaintances to confirm my suspensions of their mental health.
HOWEVER, I have always felt somehow different from other bipolars in a way I couldn't figure out. I had no idea that rapid cycling worked like this. I thought we all went up and down every day several times a day and I couldn't really figure out what these long manic states over months to years were. Everyone I'd talked to including my psychiatrists had never mentioned that its different and very rare to cycle this fast. When asked about my states I could only come up with overall good and bad periods of my life and yet still intimately know the battle between mania and depression that is bipolar.
So hearing Melanie's story is so huge for me. (thank you so much!!!) It makes me realize how I'm different from my bipolar friends and acquaintances. And more importantly that what I'm feeling is REAL. I am exhausted all of the time from putting on my act. Day after day after day. Whenever I slip it always crashes down harder than before. The acting is exhausting and I do it so well that I don't think people know who I really am anymore. I'm just the fake happy me that makes everyone laugh and feel good.. until I don't.
While I know that being bipolar will be the biggest struggle of my entire life, I feel that it is truly a great gift to know this depth of human emotion and struggle first hand. It breathes empathy into us and makes us care deeply about others. I think in time if we are given the chance --that is if people get off our backs for getting frustrated, and ALWAYS help us and love us for free no matter how desperate or pathetic our cry for help is-- we will be able to find a much greater purpose in society and to be celebrated as the healers, artists, poets, and other muses that we are.

Thank you for sharing your story. I ride that daily roller coaster ride of cycling several times an HOUR. I appreciate you mentioning the fact that so many of us provide the world with art, songs, music, dance, and theatre. I am a singer-songwriter, musician, and painter. We do have a place in the evolution of mankind. I believe this with all my heart, because I must believe it. The despair would kill me otherwise. Again, thanks for mentioning the artistic part of our distinctive conditions.

My therapist offered Bi-Polar as a sort of rush diagnosis but was a little unsure. I didn't think it fit, but my bf just suggested this- I didn't know rapid cycling was a thing. This is very accurate to my life. I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia- but it seems like this all may be one thing..? (With the sleep relatedness and the aches and fibromyalgia is supposed to be stress linked, etc.) Does anyone else feel like you're stable and normal most of the time if you take extreme care of your body? I mean the general public talks about getting "hangry" or getting grumpy when they're tired but people don't start crying and feeling suicidal or like they hate the people they love. But for me I do! It's not just a bad mood, it takes every ounce of energy I have not to scream or cry or step in front of a bus because I missed lunch and I need a nap. And when you tell people this they just call it immature- "adults don't throw temper tantrums, you just have to learn to control it." Which I do, but there is a heavy cost to my body. But on the flip side I find I can reset even wanting to die with food and sleep (if you can sleep) and sometimes ibuprofen (sometimes when not even hurting much physically I can tell I'm puffy- maybe inflammation has something to do with this) and a bath or some distracting TV. When I do reset I'm ok sometimes even for 24 hours. I also have food allergies and regular allergies and find that if I don't take care of those or let my diet get out of balance I loose my mental control. Sometimes there's a trigger like something someone says that causes unshakable self loathing for days, but most of the other moods I can fix by treating myself like I have the flu- which is usually how I feel. Also I've been like this my whole life. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Also forgetting really important stuff for weeks at a time and then suddenly remembering and freaking out? It's like my brain just has a black out in one spot and then it turns back on, and I've forgotten to pay my bill or go to the doctor for something that I had been thinking about for months. It is weird and frustrating!

My body is EXTREMELY sensitive to what I eat, needing the right amount of sleep, being in pain, etc. I absolutely feel this hypersensitivity is linked to the BP. I also have inflammation and aches and pains and have had medical investigation into autoimmune conditions which have led nowhere at this time. Good luck and nice to know we are not alone!

I think my body is hypersensitive to pain. Sept 2016 I had lower back surgery. Herniated disc, I still have one below it on the last vertebrate. Also had to get steroid shot in between hip and tailbone. Diagnosed with degenerative disc disorder...my back is a mess. Anytime I'm given novacain or shot, they have to give me twice as much. To rapid cycling...I go a couple days back and forth with mixed episodes as well. My wife thought I was way over medicated by the way I spoke and acted (I agreed) so I have cut back some by 50% (depakote) and 75% (valium and gabapentin). This winter has been my worst. I've been 5 seconds from shooting myself out in the country 3 times. One time I swear God had a buddy call my phone just as I was going to get out the door. And he knew something was wrong and told me to come to his house. My wife thinks if I quit drinking energy drinks twice a day and start working out that this will just all go away. She recommended I leave to try to get better and then come back. That was when I became more suicidal. Now the thought of it doesn't even cross my mind. But like others, I'm sick of the lies, deception, faking a persona every day, having a hard time waking up to life in the morning and trying to fall asleep in the morning. If you can't tell I'm on the bottom of the roller coaster right now lol. At the beginning of the week I felt great but when I'm in that state, I'm still ignorant and think "oh great I might be climbing out of this" then I crash and realize that I was above my norm and hypomanic. My wife is try is trying to find triggers to eliminate to resolve everything. She's a problem fixer, and if she can't fix it, she gets hopeless and resentful. I've tried praying my way out but I can't. I know its a forever thing and I have to learn to live with it, but I couldn't live without my wife and alone. It's gotten to the point I can't even work because I'm so inconsistent and I manage a golf course. My wife makes really good money and since my surgery I haven't worked much for the city. I'm starting to believe I'm just lazy and living off her like her whole side of her family is saying, but I'm not. I'd love to go work and feel good about myself. But each year I feel myself beginning to not enjoy anything or somethings that I used to...its just sad.

cassandra, have you found any answers? i feel extremely hangry, have black spots for weeks, and like i have the flu and can resent with great care. i feel very brittle but no medical problems and great physical health.

Im in love and have been in love with a man who has bipolar and i must say it has been one rough road over the years but i still hold on and try my best to be patient with him.He has never really been diagnosed but i recognized it over two years ago and from the much i read im almost sure it is bipolar.One moment we are good and he is proclaiming his love and the next he is throwing insults and making all kinds of threats.And it has a cycle.As i write this he hasnt answered my calls or texts for the last five days and we hadnt even gotten into a fight.From reading your stories my knowledge is increased and my strength and patience in him renewed.Thankyou

Hello, upon reading your story i am the same way to my wife I so love her and we have had a great 11 years and i am bipolar,adha,ptsd been to war twice and after all the meds it seems i am getting worse. I have been acting the same way as your guy with the insults and mean words and then all of a sudden im happy. I wanted to tell you that he loves you so much believe me and it kills him inside for how he acts towards you and others i am having the same issues and at times i go away for hours or a day or two just to cry because i am asshamed of myself and have begged my wife to leave me for a am affraid of my possible future actions. Hang in there okay bles you for being so caring and insightful.

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Thanks for fantastic info I used to be on the lookout for this info for my
mission.

I just wanted to tell you that this is so so so so hugely useful. I've been having trouble for years... My doctor has treated me for anxiety and panic but never identified my manic episodes (possibly because I'm so 'high' during them that it's the last thing I want to tell the doctor) - I'm currently seeing a psychologist who is adamant that she won't 'pathologise' my condition and won't 'start naming big scary conditions because that might backfire'... I seriously think I probably have rapid cycling bipolar disorder but it's frustrating that nobody will confirm it. That dread when I've been super happy and invincible (overspending, making impulsive decisions and being super super creative and productive - coupled with lack of need for sleep) for a while and I feel myself tipping over the edge is absolutely terrifying - knowing that I'll drop eventually and just want to sleep for a month - or worse; that my panic might come back.
Anyway - it's really really helpful and comforting to know that others have the same experiences as me. I'm not sure how I'd react if my psychologist did decide to actually diagnose anything but it's frustrating in a lot of ways that she won't.
I'm doing OK at the moment with psychology and mild medication - I actually love my mania (apart from laughing embarassingly loudly at stuff, spending too much money and saying things I probably shouldn't) because that's when I am the most creative and productive - and when I feel the most 'me'. So I do worry that if they decided to treat me for BPD this would iron out my highs and I'd just coast along the middle... the highs are almost compensation for the lows.
Sorry I'm waffling but this really has struck a chord for me.
Thank you thank you thank you.

Thanks so much for your comments, I really connected to the concept of liking the manic highs. I too love them; I look forward to them (they come every other day or so). I'm in an abusive marriage and find that I can use my feelings of invincibility and general pissiness to actually get things done to get out of it. I think there's a way to use these mental states in a positive way. I really appreciate your viewpoint. Thanks.

Thank you for these three stories which I have shared with my friends and family. They explain more clearly what I have been diagnosed with but until now has seem so damned mysterious. These stories explain more clearly what I am going through than my own frustrated explanations have. I am grateful for that because my loved ones now have a little bit of perspective whereas before they had no inclination as to what goes on for me every day. Now, the mystery has been revealed and it no longer carries such wicked power. Thank you for these postings.

I just found out that my wife has rapid cycle bipolar and I want to be there for her and try to be as understanding as possible she goes threw very servair mood swings one minute she's laughing and then the next she's crying then a minute later she's so angry, I just got out of jail and am dealing with trying to stay out and she's always been there for me and she puts on a happy front and keeps her emotions to herself trying not to let anyone in, we also have 4 teenage kids and she works every day of the week on call and it's dealing with the public and she's a very private person who hates being out in the world and talking to people, nobody knows who she really is and what she's going threw and I'm the only one that she has opened up to and I want to know how I can be there for her and make her feel like I'm with her and I wanna help her and not let her feel alone, I know she feels like she's all alone and I know she puts on a happy face for me and our 4 kids but it's not fair I need to find out how to help her for her mental health before the depression gets to much for her one day and she ends up committing suicide, the only thing that really calms her down is going into our bedroom with the lights off and just getting away from the outside world, she also gets really emotional when she puts different food in her body like sugar her moods change could be every 10 minutes and she's told me that she's thought about suicide before and that's the only thing that calmed her down when she was really depressed, I just wanna know how I can be there for her cause I only found out today about what it's called bipolar, before today I just had heard the word I didn't know what bipolar meant it all day I've been reading different articles about it and I'm scared for her and I love her so much I wanna help me so please help me what I need to do to be there for her and help her. Thank you all so much, Eddie

Thank you for contacting us. We are sorry to hear about what you are going though. Making the decision to get help is difficult for many people and it may take some time. You are doing the right thing by learning more about how to help her. This article has advice on how to approach the topic and suggestions for what to say: http://ibpf.org/article/encouraging-loved-one-get-help

We also have a recorded lecture that goes into this topic in greater detail: http://www.ibpf.org/you-need-help-step-step-plan-convince-loved-one-get-counseling

Another option to try is attending a support group for caregivers. It’s comforting to talk with others who are in a similar situation and you can learn a lot by asking them questions and seeing what has or hasn’t worked for them. Please email mleigh@ibpf.org if you would like help finding a support group in your area.

 

If you are in crisis, please call the Crisis Hotline or Text Line which you can access by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting START to 741-741 as we are not a crisis center. If you are not in crisis and want to talk to someone online, we recommend the website www.7cups.com. It's a free, anonymous chat with a trained listener.

Thank you for contacting us. We are sorry to hear about what you are going though. Making the decision to get help is difficult for many people and it may take some time. You are doing the right thing by learning more about how to help her. This article has advice on how to approach the topic and suggestions for what to say: http://ibpf.org/article/encouraging-loved-one-get-help

We also have a recorded lecture that goes into this topic in greater detail: http://www.ibpf.org/you-need-help-step-step-plan-convince-loved-one-get-counseling

Another option to try is attending a support group for caregivers. It’s comforting to talk with others who are in a similar situation and you can learn a lot by asking them questions and seeing what has or hasn’t worked for them. Please email mleigh@ibpf.org if you would like help finding a support group in your area.

 

If you are in crisis, please call the Crisis Hotline or Text Line which you can access by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting START to 741-741 as we are not a crisis center. If you are not in crisis and want to talk to someone online, we recommend the website www.7cups.com. It's a free, anonymous chat with a trained listener. 

Hi Eddie.

You are doing the right thing by researching and supporting the woman you love.

I was diagnosed BP2 rapid cycling in 2008, but ran from the diagnosis after confiding to my parents. I was in an unmarried, privately abusive relationship at the time; he couldn't have cared less about me, my mental health or being supportive, so I looked for that unconditional support in the next logical place: my family. I was 35 years old at the time and telling them is truly one of the worst things I ever did. They freaked. Especially my mom. The 'bipolar'/'manic-depressive' stigma was too much for her to bear. Instead of the support and love and help iwas looking for and needed, I got fear and ignorance thrown back in my face. You are wonderful for wanting to help your wife.

So I ran. I ran hard and fast from that diagnosis.
...the diagnosis that finally made sense of me.
Of why I was feeling such highs and lows....abusing alcohol and self-medicating my self-loathe. Of why I was okay if getting physical and emotionally tortured by s worthless man in my own home. Of why I was me. Only it upset my mother 'what would people think?' so I ran back to my multiple ptomary care docs, who were all happy to write prescriptions to treat symptoms of my much more socially acceptable co-morbidities: lorazepam for severe anxiety, Adderall for ADHD, zolpidiem for insomnia. And I carried on. Fighting like hell to stay on top of it all.

The years passed with the highs and lows hitting me in an unprotected, never-ending assault: I went to detox as a temporary vacation from my progessively abusive boyfriend; I went back to college; I broke up with boyfriend; I excelled in college and got accepted into an RN nursing program; my father was indicted and convicted in a federal court case; I reconnected with, got engaged/married a hometown man I had been in love with 20 years ago; I survived nursing school; passed the state licensure exam and working as a nurse in a large neuroscience hospital program. My father gets sentenced tomorrow. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer last week. I'm cycling fast now...daily. I hold it together during my three back-to-back 12-hour night shifts a week in wonderful hypomanic state of patiet-centered productivity. And then it's over. I'm sleep deprived, worthless and angry.
I stay in bed while my husband works during the day, blackout shades drawn, crying in a state of isolated loneliness. If I am able to shower and function andgrt out of the house at all during my four days off, I've ended up meeting a friend fr a glass of wine, return home and go into a full-on bipolar rage after which I'm even more full of self-loathing hatred, staying once again in bed, sorry, ashamed, apologetic, confused and hopeless until it's time to go to work again, be happy and productive and feel good about myself whie caring for others on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

I finally confided in my husband after last week's explosive meltdown of that long-ago bp2 diagnosis. Maybe I'll get the help I need, maybe I won't. I have the knowledge, resources and means.

Regardless, I just wanted to share my story while contending you on being supportive in your wife journey with mental illness....support is so important. I'm proud of you for being that type of guy.

Best of luck to you, your wife and family.

Dear Alicia,
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your story is eerily similar to mine. It give me comfort and hope. I think I have been dodging the bipolar diagnosis for a while. My abusive boyfriend left me with PTSD and that overwhelmed a lot of the symptoms. I have been able to work through a hell of a lot of PTSD, with few symptoms now. I also self medicate with alcohol, I quit methadone last year by myself and my mood shifts became very apparent. It's been frustrating because everything is supposed to get better, at least that is what everyone says and everyone blames my erratic or depressed moods on. I now have hypomanic, borderline psychotic episodes a few days before my period ending when my period starts. I met and married a wonderful man, I feel like I am abusive by putting him through these strange moods. I also have periods of lethargy and apathy. I hope you find something that helps when you see the psychitrist. I am waiting to hear from one in the next few days. I just realized today that I most likely have rapid cycling bipolar 2. I hope for the sake of my loved ones I can find some relief from this. Thank you so much for sharing. I often avoid posting on the internet (often because I know I'll probably be embarrassed later if I was in a hypomanic state). It helps tremendously to read a story that rings true. Also, going back to college and becoming a nurse in a neuroscience program is an AMAZING feat. Hearing that is incredibly inspiring. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing!

I've just stumbled across this sight wow! It's like u are all talking about me which is amazing for me because I thought I was alone. I have recently have been diagnosed rapid cycling bi polar which I'm slowly understanding myself, my mania then the depression hits like a train. I'm finding it very hard to cope I have 4 children and a husband with his own problems our children keep me Alice but I don't know how long that will last. For me the suicidal thoughts are crushing I battle with myself in depression mode but don't know if I will win the war in the end. During mania I laugh at myself for those thoughts whilst decorating the living room in a day (LITERALLY) or cooking a 3 course meal for us. I've had to cut my credit card up and pay the£2,000 I owe whilst high at Xmas. The meds I've tried are not quite for me depokote made me hear my name been called which made me look weird in the Street lookin round at nothing. Qutiapine made me put 2 1/2 stone on made me even more depressed but stopped bi polar symptoms. I'm on carbamazepine and fluorine atmosphere hopefully it works. excuse the spelling I'm not a pharmacist

I'm only 14 and I'm so sure that I have this because my mood changes up to 4 times a day and I'm loosing friends because of it. I'm just to scared to go to the doctors because part of me doesn't want to face the truth but part of me doesn't want to be told that actually it's just hormones because I know it's not hormones and how I'm feeling isn't a typical teenager thing

Jasmine, seek the help you need by going to the doctor. My daughter is 14 as well and she's been having problems with her mood for years. It wasn't until, at the age of 12, when she decided and revealed that she didn't want to live anymore did we realized how dangerously unstable she was. And yes, because of her age, no one can agree to diagnose her with bipolar disorder but rather ADHD, major depressive, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder or intermittent explosive disorder. But she IS being treated (meds and therapy) and she's making it. Knowledge is power and the truth will set you free...honey, please seek help!

So glad your daughter is doing ok. Can you tell me the medication she is on. We are in a similar situation.

Thank you all for sharing your stories....it is wonderful that the internet allows us to be open to sharing and supporting our loved ones with this difficult mood disorder.
If anyone has any other resources of how to support a friend or loved diagnosed I would love to read more.

I'm 26 and my BD symptoms started when I turned 25. I have experienced 3 episodes already. One which was really bad. 2 of which, depressions have made me attempt suicide. I have been hospitalized twice. It's exhausting. I was misdiagnosed in the beginning for depression and anxiety. Now it's been 7 months since my diagnoses with rapid cycling bipolar disorder and still trying medication to see what works. I'm on Depakote, Prozac and Zyprexa. My doctor wants to put me on Lamictal because it's the best medication out there for BD. It's been a month and a half since my last manic episode and I finally feel somewhat better and not so depressed.

Is it common for a BD to cycle several times in an hour? Or does that sound more like BPD? Also has anyone had any success with Geodon? What meds have seemed to help? Thank you for any insight on this.

Thank you for bringing up the creative side of many bipolar people. I am a singer-songwriter, published poet, guitarist and visual artist. Generally I produce more when I am deeply depressed. If bipolar people didn't exist I firmly believe there might not be good music, books, poetry or art. Thank you.

i have had bipolar aout 33 years have bought and sold houses while husband away lost about 10 thousand pounds because of it have also bought cars with out his ok. now i seem to have been high for about 4 months with bouts of depression in between but now my moods are changing several times aday and i dont always recognise it my self but friends tell me it is good to know that others have same symtoms it would be good to find a suport group but i dont know of any in aylesbury so its good to share like this gets it off your chest for a while so thanks for all your posts

I want to say thanks for sharing your stories. My daughter has been diagnosed as bipolar. Reading your stories has helped me understand a little more of what she is going through. I am trying to learn as much as I can, I want her to know that what ever she is going through I am there for her. Any suggestions on other sites or articles to help? Again, thank you for sharing.

Just constant last few yrs. Dx BP2 at 32. 14 yrs later, still med resistant..been on all and unfortunately for me they dont work well enough for me to have kept my 6-figure job. I take neurontin and klonopin only now.

The medication model needs to change!! It does not work and many have to go on disability because over time in my case, the illness worsens and the meds make my anger worse :( Tried many alternative treatments as well. One cognitive behavioral method helps me with my symptoms and the self blame and hoplessness. I attend telephone conference mtgs and some face to face mtgs. No religion or dogma or psycho babble in them which I like. Just "straight up SELF HELP" free tools to help me keep my head on straigher. Its recovery.org and Abraham A. Low is the founder he is dead but wrote an effective book " Manage Your Fears Manage Your Anger."

Even with all of this I still want to die and feel we should have a chouce esp when we have decades of suffering.

My animals keep me alive. Waiting for them to go so I can. I accept I want to die. Why stay alive? Just for the sake of it and to spare others feelings and to passify the religious moralists?

I find fleeting moments of joy but as someone so perfectly put it in an above post " I am at war with myself"..its taxing. I am tired of the outbursts, weight gain, body aches, inability to get along w with others...failed relationships..bankrupt and on SSDI. College educated. Burned so many bridges.

I help a lot of animals yet the people shun me away. No place in the world for me. Tired of being a stranger w in myself and a bystander in this world. Want it to end! Tired of the fraud of psychiatry. Read Robert Whittakers books..very compelling! Talks about how the meds dont work and hiw the way mental illness is dx and treated needs to radically change. Many suicides from these meds.

Peace to all.

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