A common phrase I hear often living in Washington D.C and Pennsylvania is "the weather here is so bipolar." One day it's freezing and the next day people are wearing shorts and playing frisbee on the quad. There has to be a better word to use than bipolar, and I'm here to tell you why and offer one.
Something I've dealt with since middle school (without recognizing until this year) is Bipolar disorder. I'd like to tell everyone what it is and what it is not, because I'm really tired of being labeled crazy or psycho. I feel that education about mental health is the key to bridging the gap between neurologically typical people and neurologically atypical people.
Bipolar disorder is a category of mood disorder that presents itself differently in every individual. Generally, it is described as a disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. It is very common and has over 3,000,000 diagnoses each year in the U.S. So, yes, the "crazies" are walking amongst you everywhere. Typically symptoms of bipolar disorder present themselves slowly overtime from adolescence into adulthood. I struggled with being an extra angsty teen into my college years where I experienced my first depressive episode.
Let's define some terms now. Mania versus depression. Mania (hyper-mania) is the "highs" that people associate with people being super jumpy, energetic and talkative. For myself, it presents as agitation and irritability with the desire to start new projects and work 24/7. People in a manic episode aren't usually, 99% of the time, going on a killing spree or having insane delusions. In extreme cases, yes, it happens. Again, I'm addressing my own experiences and typical bipolar cases. Let's talk depressive hypomania. Symptoms include: low energy, disconnection from reality, disinterest in typical activities, etc.
These episodes last from weeks to months. They don't change minute to minute or day to day. It may make someone more sensitive to things, but episodes are usually long unless (what I want to address) they have a rapid cycle. A cycle in bipolar disorder is like a wave. Treating it is trying to collapse that wave into a line of stable and typical mood. A complete up and down is one cycle. It could take years to go through one cycle if medicated properly. People with rapid cycles (like myself) will have quicker mood changes, but still not as fast as the stigma of changing minute to minute.
Now that I've covered what Bipolar disorder is, you might be beginning to understand why it's so hard for me to accept when someone pokes fun at it as if it's no big deal to describe the weather or other people that way. Having this disorder is so hard. It really is. I'm a strong person and it will knock me on my feet sometimes. Luckily, I have a support system in place. Not everyone has an understanding support system or access to medication. So please, be gentle with everyone you meet. Avoid the use of the term "Bipolar" unless discussing the disorder.
Instead, use the phrase, "What the f*** is this weather?" or "I should've just gone to school in Hawaii." They're more relatable and gentle. You will slip up, it's fine, just please apologize.
Thanks everyone it means a lot that you've chosen to read this.