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Learning to live with bipolar disorder
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Learning to live with bipolar disorder has been a long and difficult struggle. It took three hospitalizations and several different diagnoses to get the proper diagnosis of dipolar disorder type 2.
Usually several weeks before a break down, I will start having paranoia, racing thoughts and speech, sleeplessness, irritability, anger and poor judgment, which make it obvious that I need more direct intervention. Luckily I have caring family and friends who help me to realize I am having a crisis.
When I am in severe depression, it feels as though I am alone in a big, deep, dark hole with no hope of ever getting out. These episodes can go on for weeks and weeks. Then I would go into mania which made me feel as though I was superwoman and could accomplish anything. I would race around doing five things at once, never really getting much done.
When I got tired of the constant ups and downs, I started taking this illness seriously. Throughout the years of suffering, I half-heartedly took medications and thought that I could handle the disorder, but in the end it was handling me.
This has nothing to do with how smart or how dumb I thought I was. It has to do with an imbalance of chemicals in my brain.
To get better I have to stay on medication, see my doctor, seek the help of a therapist, and go to a support group. I have found that this illness can result in death, if not taken seriously.
If anyone has or knows anyone with any of these symptoms, I encourage you to seek help. Seeking help is admirable, not degrading.
Symptoms for depression include:
• Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
• Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
• Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
• Pessimism, indifference
• Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
• Unexplained aches and pains
• Feeling of guilt, worthlessness and hopelessness
• Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
• Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
• Excessive consumption of alcohol or use of chemical substances
• Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
The symptoms for mania include:
• Increased physical and mental activity and energy
• Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
• Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
• Decreased need for sleep without fatigue
• Grandiose delusions
• Racing speech, racing thoughts, flight of ideas
• Impulsiveness, poor judgment, distractibility
• Reckless behavior such as spending sprees, rash business decisions, erratic driving and sexual indiscretions
• In the most severe cases, delusions and hallucinations
Having three or more of these symptoms for more than two-three weeks could mean you have some sort of mental illness. Please seek help.
With everyone’s help we can stamp out the stigma surrounding mental illness and perhaps help more people seek help. If one life is saved then it will have been worth it.

For more information, contact Lavigne at (912) 223-0222 or Nina Howerton at (912) 427-9281, or check the Web site
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