Staying Balanced on the Hyphen

This blog post contains discussions of bipolar disorder. If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.

Do you know someone with a mental illness? Someone who is considered neuroatypical, whose brain works differently than most people?

Perhaps you know someone with bipolar disorder, as “an estimated 2.8% of U.S. adults had bipolar disorder in the past year.” (The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center, 2017) Or you know someone who has this disease and you don’t know it — someone who, as I put it, is “staying balanced on the hyphen”. This might be someone who works very hard on a daily basis to stay within a “normal” range of emotions and not give into the manic highs and deep lows of the illness.

one woman comforting another woman
Image by Serena Wong from Pixabay

Bipolar disorder is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks” (The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center, 2020). It is characterized by extreme see-sawing moods, from “extremely ‘up,’ elated, irritable, or energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very ‘down,’ sad, indifferent, or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes)” (The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center, 2020). Continue reading