Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

“I Miss the Highs . . . ” (Bipolar / Manic-Depressive Disorder)

“I miss the highs. . . ” my friend said – just before she went off her meds.


I totally understood what she was saying. We belonged to a quilting group, and when she was beginning a manic phase, she produced knock-out quilts, quilts combining colors in unusual ways, and she could stay up all night to finish one. She was a lot of fun to be around, totally up and enthusiastic and creative. As the phase progressed, however, she got thinner and thinner, fell in love with the wrong men, and I always knew when she was just about to crash because she looked fabulous – new clothes, lots of shoes, and she talked a mile a minute.


Then the crash. Her biggest fear was the credit card bills; when she was on a high, she felt like it didn’t matter. When she slid into depression, it was complicated by the fact that she had real things to be depressed about – STDs, huge bills, and concerns at her workplace and her security clearance.


As long as she was on her meds, she was fine, but the medications made her feel sluggish; she said even colors were less colorful on her meds. She said it was like spending your life underwater, where things were not so clear. She said it was dull.


It’s easy, when you are not bi-polar,  to say “stay on your meds.” It’s really hard to do it when the meds can make you feel like you are living in a prison.


My friend recommended a book by Kay Redfield Jamison called An Unquiet Mind. It was one of the most helpful books I have ever read, helping me to understand just how hard it is to give up the mania in spite of the huge price you pay for it with the depressions.


I hope my friend is still alive.


This article is from AOL Health News:

4 Surprising Signs of Bipolar Disorder

Fewer than half of Americans with bipolar disorder are properly diagnosed and treated, recent research shows. Could you spot bipolar symptoms – in yourself or in someone close to you?

Many people with bipolar disorderdon’t even know they have it.

Fewer than half of people in the United States who show classic signs of bipolar disorder actually get diagnosed and treated, says a recent Archives of General Psychiatry report on a survey of more than 61,000 adults in 11 countries — the United States, Mexico, China, Japan, Brazil, Colombia, India, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Romania, and New Zealand. Bipolar patients in lower-income nations get even less treatment — in some cases, as few as 25 percent receive help.

Compared to the other 10 countries studied, the United States had the highest rate of bipolar disorder (4.4 percent of those surveyed fell somewhere on the bipolar spectrum). India had the lowest (0.1 percent). Overall, about 2.4 percent of those interviewed in the face-to-face survey could be classified as having bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder’s Most Surprising Symptoms

It may be buzz-worthy these days, but many people don’t fully understand bipolar disorder and the symptoms that can lead to proper diagnosis and treatment. Bipolar, also sometimes called manic-depressive disorder, is characterized by shifts from extreme highs (known as mania) to emotional lows (depression), with “normal” moods in between.

It’s bipolar disorder’s manic phase that most sets it apart from other common mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. While many people associate mania with high energy and exaggeratedly good moods, these other key symptoms are more subtle:

  • Reckless spending. If a friend is blowing her paycheck on shopping sprees she can’t afford, watch out. A person in a manic phase of bipolar disorder is more likely to take big risks, including spending splurges that can lead to mountains of unmanageable debt.
  • Super-charged sex drive. A sudden revving up of a person’s sex drive, obsessively thinking or talking about sex, or engaging in sexual encounters he otherwise wouldn’t (like a one-night stand or sex with someone he doesn’t know well) are all symptoms of hypersexuality, another less-obvious mania clue.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse. These often go hand-in-hand with manic episodes: As many as 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder have abused alcohol or drugs at some point in their lives. Depressants such as alcohol or pain pills can send a person with mania straight into depression, while stimulants like cocaine can have the opposite effect.
  • Skimping on shut-eye. Little need for sleep is another red flag that a person may be having a manic episode.

Keep in mind that bipolar disorder can vary greatly in severity, and not everyone experiences every symptom. In fact, some patients experience hypomania, a less mild form of mania. But even hypomania, if left untreated, could spin into depression or develop into full-blown mania.

One important takeaway from the Archives study is that across all countries, patients with bipolar disorder faced challenges in their daily lives and were at increased risk of such health problems as panic attacks, substance abuse, and suicide. Untreated bipolar disorder can also lead to troubled relationships with friends and family and problems at work. If you’re concerned about yourself or a friend or loved one, get more information here on the best treatments for bipolar disorder.

Last Updated: 08/08/2012

July 9, 2013 - Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Character, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Germany, Health Issues, Relationships | , ,


  1. […] Icerocket blog search: china newsmore info… […]

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  2. I hope your friend finds wellness. I miss the highs too. My partner watches me like a hawk and makes me take my meds ALL the time. I can still sit up long hours into the night though, so I know exactly what you are saying. All the best. Deb

    Comment by debstrw | July 9, 2013 | Reply

  3. I hope she did/does, too. She was/is an amazing woman; I learned a lot from her. Deb, I am thankful you have someone who cares for you and helps keep you on meds :-). What a struggle you face. I hadn’t thought about the insurance aspect. Wow.

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 10, 2013 | Reply

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