I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2013 and life has not been same since then. From manic phases to depressive despair, it's a never-ending cycle. AMA about the bipolar disorder.

Priyanka Singh
Jun 28, 2017

Hi everyone, my name is Priyanka and I'm here to answer questions for people struggling with Bipolar disorder or if you are their caretaker, I can give you tips on how to be around a person who is suffering from depression. I want to use this opportunity to help people understand this disorder in a better way.

AMA  :)

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What are the warning signs of bipolar disorder which a laymen can easily recognize?

Jun 28, 7:07AM EDT0

If someone you know suddenly stops socializing, makes excuses to avoid meeting, goes from socially active to no social media presence, show a significant weight loss, frequent mood shifts, includes crying a lot, I think all this is a trigger sign that they need help. 

Jun 28, 7:38AM EDT0

Are you a student studying in college or an adult working at a full time job?

Jun 28, 5:06AM EDT0

I completed my Post-graduation in 2013, after which I worked full time for 4 years. I changed three jobs during this time due to depression.

Jun 28, 6:37AM EDT0

Hi Friends, 

I am sorry that I will not be available for chat during my AMA assigned timing. There is a protest march happening in my city against mob lynching and I need to be there. I promise you I will answer your questions as soon as I am back. Thank you for your questions and understanding. Again, I am very sorry for not being able to chat live but I will make up for it, with another live chat soon. Thank you.

Jun 28, 4:08AM EDT0

Does a person suffering from mood swings needs to be get diagnosed for bipolar disorder?

Jun 27, 11:52PM EDT0

James I am not a therapist or a psychitatrist but I do think if the mood swings is too often, its better not to take a risk and resolve it through medical help. I think even if you slightly feel overstressed its good to visit a psychiatrist and understand how to reduce your stress. Trust me you don't want a breakdown, nothing in life is worth stressing yourself to depression. For your own well being, put your needs first and see a psychiatrist if need be. 

Jun 28, 4:06AM EDT0

Do you have a family history of mental illness?

Jun 27, 10:09PM EDT0

Hi Pamela, Yes I do. I've answered this question below in detail, please check. Thank you.

Jun 28, 4:04AM EDT0

What was your category of bipolar disorder as diagnosed by your doctor?

Jun 27, 10:01PM EDT0

Bipolar 2. 

Jun 28, 4:04AM EDT0

Do you have periods where you feel okay?

Jun 27, 9:24PM EDT0

Yes I indeed do. I am in my manic phase but i am feeling okay right now. i've anxiety attacks once in maybe three weeks or sometimes I just feel exhausted and I cry a lot but mostly during mania, I feel myself. I feel good and I want to do good things in life. Another reason why I wanted this AMA to tell people about my condition and raise awareness or maybe just help some caretaker who is unable to understand why a Bipolar person is behaving the way they are. 

Jun 28, 4:04AM EDT0

Do you have family support or a friend to talk to?

Jun 27, 8:51PM EDT0

I am lucky to have friends who understand me and support me, after my second time of depression I felt guilty of not being able to sustain a healthy life and falling again and again. But I've come to a realization that its not my fault, it is a condition and my friends do not judge me for it. I am blessed to have such people in my life. Regarding my family, I try not to bother them with my condition since they are already invested in taking care of my mother, who suffers from clinical depression. And its really fine because maybe for the same reason I was lucky enough to have good, kind people around me for support. I can never thank them enough and when I'm better i do try to be there for them in anyway possible I can. :)

Jun 28, 4:02AM EDT0

How often do you feel depressed and are you able to care for yourself?

Jun 27, 7:37PM EDT0

In past four years, I've had four depressive episodes. I don't think I take care of myself as well as I can during depression but i try my best during mania to have a healthy lifestyle and compensate for the bad times. 

Jun 28, 4:00AM EDT0

How many types of bipolar disorder exist at the present?

Jun 27, 6:58PM EDT0

Google search will show there are two types, Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2. I suffer from latter. 

Jun 28, 3:59AM EDT0

Hi friends,

I'm really sorry I didn't answer questions in the order from oldest to newest, I should have been more aware. I hope you find your questions answered. I was overwhelmed to see so many people asking real questions to me. None of the questions offended me and really make me rethink about my disorder but not in a painful way. Thank you for taking out time for this AMA. 

Love,

Priyanka

Jun 27, 5:35PM EDT0

Would you enter a hospital to manage your illness?

Jun 27, 5:19PM EDT0

Not in India. I have deep distrust of medical facilities here. If I ever go to a psychiatrist, I check the people who have recommended him/her, past success history. I really want to believe in our medical care but the turth remains its a broken system and there needs to be a lot of work to be done to make it effective for general population. 

Jun 27, 5:26PM EDT0

How debilitating or incapacitating did you find your experience to be with bipolar disorder?

Jun 27, 4:35PM EDT0

Extremely debilitating. My life is divided into two stages - Before Bipolar and After Bipolar and there has been a stark difference between the two. An overachiever turned someone who couldn't manage a functional working life. The stress of expectations and general disappointment was too much for me to cope with for a longest period. I can't say why or how from within myself i found the strength to fight for answers and fight depression but I knew once I had seen myself in such a pitiable stage that I had to fight back. I used to be extremely independent person before and during depression I felt i survived at the mercy of other people. It was humilating and the person who was mocking me for this humiliation was myself. 

Jun 27, 5:24PM EDT0

Did you ever think about self-hat or have any suicidal tendencies?

Jun 27, 4:01PM EDT0

Hi Richard,

It happened twice in the course of four years. First year when I was prescribed antidepressants, within 8 hours my body reacted differently to them. I was not able to cope with the sheer agony. I've written a blogpost about it. Second time, again it was during my depressive phase and a reaction accelerated by the use of antidepressants. Suffice to say I'm yet to find an antidepressant which works for me minus suicidea ideation. Only times I was able to stop, it was because of my support system. I've been blessed to have friends who took care of me and were literally there for me. 

Jun 27, 4:14PM EDT0

Would you try experimental medication if it could cure one of your cycles?

Jun 27, 3:49PM EDT0

Definitely. In fact I've been researching and reading about alternative medicines for treatment. I've tried meditation (Nam moho renge kyo), mindfulness, yoga and other techniques. All this have helped me manage my mania, but have no effect on depressive phase yet. But i'm hopeful. :)

Jun 27, 4:16PM EDT0

Did the medications help you in any way to reduce your suffering and give you a brief respite?

Jun 27, 3:10PM EDT0

Hi Carrie,

I've answered this question above. You can also check my blogpost about it.

Jun 27, 4:16PM EDT0

Did you abuse drugs, alcohol or other substances prior to your illness?

Jun 27, 2:14PM EDT0

Till I reached college, I did not smoke/drink/smoked up or did any drugs. Infact it was vegetarian till 25. In college, I did use to smoke up weed/hash and some times smoked a cigarette. It was maybe 10 times in a year? It's only after my Bipolar was diagnosed, I started drinking by myself (not al alcoholic, but a wine bottle that lasted a week's time) but I did heavily smoked. I've reduced my smoking. I do smoke marijuana to help me sleep during manic phase. Like I mentioned earlier, till now I haven't found the right combination of drugs that work without triggering suicide ideation.  

Jun 27, 4:19PM EDT0

What, if any, has ever helped you reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

Jun 27, 2:11PM EDT0

Companionship. I honestly think when people mean a support system, what they are asking for is someone who cares selflessly. It might be one of the hardest things to do. I remember the time during my breakdown and consecutive years were one of the toughest times of my life, also because I was alone during that period. I realized the difference between my last depressive phase compared to others was that I had the will to fight back during this time, thanks to someone who took a lot of crap from me (pardon my language) when I couldn't think straight. I was deep into despair but this person managed to show me hope everytime and it wasn't easy but it did happen. Even though during depression, we end up alienating everyone, what we are really seeking is someone who believes in us even when we don't.

Jun 27, 4:23PM EDT0

How old were you when you started showing symptoms of bipolar disorder and were diagnosed for the same?

Jun 27, 12:56PM EDT0

I was 24 years old. I think if i look back, I started showing symptoms since I was 20 but i never focused much into them. I kept myself busy and tried to fight those negative emotions till I stressed and broke down. I did not believe the diagnosis was correct the first time, so that year I got the diagnosis done by 5 different psychiatrists. Lived in denial for a long period till I accepted my condition.

Jun 27, 4:24PM EDT0

Have you tried diet changes to feel better?

Jun 27, 12:52PM EDT0

I was told by my psychiatrists to start eating proteins. I lost a lot of weight during my depressive episode and I weighed 37 kgs, which underweight for my age and height. That was the time I started eating chicken. I was vegetarian 25 years prior to that. In last few years I've realized, I will always eat less during depressive phase so I try to eat things that I really like so that I can increase quantity a little. I sometimes eat pastry for breakfast just because it made me eat a little. I think it is important that for depressed people one adjusts diet according to what they can eat instead of what they must eat. During mania, I try to eat healthy nutritious food and do exercises to compensate for time lost.

Jun 27, 4:27PM EDT0
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