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Bipolar Disorder

How it can cost a man’s wedding dream

5887531_xxlBIPOLAR DISORDER (which is also known as manic depression) is a biological illness and not a character weakness. This illness affects peoples’ mood and leads to feelings of extreme happiness, intense sadness or heightened irritability.

In Physics, we learned about electrical polarity (positive and negative) and the flow of electric current. Similarly, in the life of bipolar sufferers the ‘emotional current’ is alternating between Mania – the positive pole, and Depression – the negative pole. And whichever pole is flooded, it dominates the life of the sufferers. Unlike ordinary mood swings, the mood changes of a person with bipolar disorder are so severe  that they generate tremendous distress and make it hard to function at work, at school or at home.

John’s Story

One day in May, John (not his real name) called from Indonesia, requesting an urgent appointment for his wife-to-be and himself for the following day in Singapore. “You must see us for a psychotherapy session. It is very important to both of us,” he said on the phone.

John, 28 years old, very wealthy, is a managing director in his father’s well-known textile company. Carol (not her real name), 24 years old, is a beautiful smart woman who studies medicine. Both seem to be a perfect match. The wedding date was fixed for August 12, and 3,000 guests have already received a wedding invitation card.

But now, Carol has second thoughts about this wedding because of John’s unusual abrupt, drastic, and intense “mood swings”, which she is very much afraid of.

John’s Manic Episodes

Two weeks ago, John got extremely irritated, impatient, annoyed and angry (not for the first time) when discussing marriage preparation details with his fiancé. She remarked that he was talking too fast, and that she couldn’t follow what he was saying. Suddenly, he hit her in the face, yelled abusive words at her, and threatened her with a knife. After this incident, he couldn’t explain why he suddenly behaved so aggressively. Shortly before this incident, he felt great like ‘Superman’. He was the most energetic and happy being on planet earth, and this was only with four hours’ sleep at night! “Sometimes I could laugh and party for days and I feel as if there is no tomorrow.” This is how he describes his six-week manic episode.

John’s Depressive Episode

Now, however, John feels sad, useless, hopeless, and empty again. He spends most of the day feeling guilty about the fight he had with his fiancé. He hardly leaves his bed (does not go to work), cries a lot and isolates himself from Carol and his family. He doesn’t have an appetite and feels extremely low. Throughout this depression “he feels worthless and an unknown pain deep inside of him”. Carol added that throughout his life, John has generally been manic for two months followed by seven months of depression. And only the rest of the year he experiences a period of normal, symptom-free mood, which has been  the only  time she felt comfortable with him.

During his major depressive episodes, most of the following signs are present for at least two weeks and make it difficult for him to function.

•             Feeling of emptiness, hopelessness and sadness

•             Lack of pleasure (not in the mood to do anything pleasurable)

•             Lack of interest in any activities

•             Lack of energy or fatigue

•             Lack of appetite (or too

much appetite)

•             Lack of sleep (or sleeping excessively)

•             Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

•             Concentration and memory problems

•             Lack of positive thoughts

•             Chronic pain that are not caused by physical disease

•             Suicidal thoughts

The Ending to John’s Story

Regrettably, Carol’s mother strongly “advised” her to leave him because she felt that people with bipolar disorder like John have unstable personalities and can’t get better or lead a normal life. Thus, all 3,000 wedding guests received an email stating: “Due to unforeseen circumstances the wedding has been cancelled!”

Of course, her mother is wrong! John is receiving proper treatment now, including medication and psychotherapy, which enables him to control his “mood swings” and related symptoms. Additionally, he efficiently helps control his symptoms by exercising regularly, eating right, drinking only small amounts of alcohol, maintaining a stable sleep pattern, reducing unhealthy stress, and monitoring his moods!

As a result, John leads a very stable and happy life now and even entered into a new relationship. He is sure she will have no reason to cancel the future wedding due to “rollercoaster mood swings”.

John’s Symptoms & Diagnosis

Indeed, it is obvious that John is not just simply “moody” but suffers from bipolar disorder. He has experienced many of the following manic symptoms for more than a week:

•             Irritability (quick excitability to annoyance, impatience, or anger)

•             Excessive happiness (abnormally high mood)

•             Inflated self-esteem and over-confidence (I can do everything. I’m the best!)

•             Excessive talking or pressured speech (rapid, loud talking which can be hardly interrupted)

•             Distractibility and racing thoughts (difficulty to focus on one thing)

•             Creative  ideas, great plans, goals (but not necessarily accomplishing these goals)

•             Feeling of tension or restlessness (psychomotor agitation)

•             Excessive pleasurable activities (that often have disastrous consequences, e.g. risky sexual activities)

Myth

People often think of the “positive” pole as the pole of “happiness.” But this is wrong! Mania is not necessarily happy at all, but often irritable!

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author
Dr Wolff von Auer, SAC registered Counselor, is the Director of Counseling & Hypnotherapy Hub (CHH). Well known for his Mental Wellbeing Workshops and Talks, he also is a Service Provider to HPB. www.CHH.com.sg.
Posted by ezyhealth on Oct 7 2013. Filed under Mental Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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