What is bipolar disorder? Type I, II and cycothymia. The difference is in their severity with type I having the most extreme manic episodes (elevated or irritable mood, intense energy, racing thoughts, exaggerated behavior) while type II has more depressive episodes, is more difficult to diagnose (most people are diagnosed with having depression), and individuals are more prone to suicide. Cyclothymia is a mild form of bipolar. I was diagnosed with Bipolar II a few years ago. I was prescribed some medications that did nothing for me except cause problematic side effects. So I went off of them. I learned to manage my symptoms with self-awareness, breathing, and sitting with the feelings. It can be difficult, but self-awareness is key.
What triggers manic episodes? Periods of high stress such as a death, working long hours, and the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic can do it. When stress becomes overwhelming and prolonged, it can trigger various mental health problems, and if you experience a bipolar disorder, PTSD, or depression, it can increase erratic behavior, somatic sensations such as body pain and fatigue.
How can I help myself? It's more important than ever to stay aware of your self-care needs, and to make sure that you take the time to tend to whatever triggers (e.g., emotions or recurring thoughts) comes up. Staying on top of your needs may not prevent triggers during this time, but it will lessen any emotional and mental chaos and uncertainty.
If you need support, it's important to reach out. Be kind to yourself. It's a difficult time right now.
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