Popular singer Yo Yo Honey Singh recently came out in the open about his struggles with Bipolar Disorder. But he is not the first celebrity who has faced challenges because of it. International names like Demi Lovato, Mariah Carey, Russel Brand, Kurt Cobain and many others have had a tough time dealing with this mental ailment. Even though the intricacies of BPD have been portrayed through films like Silver Linings Playbook, Mr Jones and Manic, only a handful of people know about it.
Bipolar Disorder is marked by the phases of intense mood swings that are generally identified by the characteristics of euphoric highs and depressive lows. While during the highs(mania or hypermania) one would feel unusually elated, extremely irritable or purposefully focussed, the lows on the other hand will render you depressed along with a lingering feeling of sadness, hopelessness and worthlessness. One of the symptoms of depressive episodes might also include lack of energy and interest and in some cases even suicidal thoughts.
Dr Sunil Nigam, a psychologist elaborated more upon different kinds of bipolar disorder, “This ailment is not as simple as it looks because there’s more than one kind of BPD. For instance, someone diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder must have gone through a cycle of at least one manic and depressive episode. On the contrary, for us to diagnose Bipolar II disorder, depressive episodes would be more frequent than the manic episodes in an individual. And at least one hypomania episode to differentiate from the former.”
He also explained that not one contributing factor is responsible for Bipolar Disorder, “Either it can be genetics especially if someone from the family already struggled with the ailment or hormonal imbalances. Often it’s an amalgamation of both. Certain cases can also be linked to a major traumatic event such as personal loss or abuse which can act as a trigger,” explains Dr Nigam.
Bipolar Disorder directly or indirectly affects not one but multiple aspects of life. Whether personal or professional, it intervenes with even the simplest of day-to-day functions like sleeping. Gagan, an 18-year-old college student shared his experiences with BPD. He shares, “I get intense headaches from racing thoughts. Racing thought insomnia and the restless legs that come with it. When I’m manic I have no appetite and also want to push myself to my limit. But it is insomnia that I really struggle with. My sleep routine gets messed up during my manic episodes.”
Meanwhile, for Mariyam who was diagnosed with BPD ten years, the ailment has hampered with her ability to maintain and sustain relationships, “For a long time I have been lonely. Lack of awareness about Bipolar Disorder and the insensitivity towards my ailment is something that I have always dealt with right from my family to my friends. Thus, it’s been really hard to mantain a long-lasting relationship with anyone. Either they get freaked out by my manic/depressive episodes or simply underplay it because they lack empathy,” she expressed.
Another individual who wishes to stay anonymous recalled their struggle with actively pursuing their passion. They said, “My creativity is lost somewhere down the line. I used to write novels, play guitar/compose music, draw… But only in depression or mania. Last 3 years I’ve been stable, except beginning of 2022 when my panic attacks came back. I feel so useless because even when I’m starting to write or draw again it gets boring to me. I feel like a NPC. I miss those days when I’ve could make something interesting and unique.”
While there is no cure for Bipolar Disorder, it can be managed through therapy and medication. Dr Vivek Swarup emphasized, “Usually we prescribe medicines to alter the moods of our patients and help them with their sleep patterns. But cognitive-behavior therapy(CBT) and counselling also helps them maintain a consistent quality of life. It’s only in crucial cases do we recommend hospitalization. But there is a serious need to educate more people about Bipolar Disorder.”
Gowri Shankar, a mental-health expert shares that Bipolar Disorder is quite common as opposed to the popular belief that it only grips a handful. She states, “Our country has really opened up to treating mental health as a serious issue. But we still need to go a long way. Certain ailments like Bipolar Disorder and MPD still remain an enigma for most. Unless we know about these illnesses, how would we be able to identify the symptoms of our friends and family members? Awareness should start right from school and colleges. Just like sex education, special lecturex should be allocated on mental health issues.”
Bipolar Disorder is a serious mental health condition but with proper care, under medical supervision and some bit of organic lifestyle changes like sticking to a regular routine, opting for a healthy nutritional diet, exercising regularly, following a proper sleep schedule and reaching out for help can really go a long way in leading a normal life.
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