Bipolar Questions and Answers with 'The Bipolar Roller,' Paul Harwell

Bipolar Questions and Answers with 'The Bipolar Roller,' Paul Harwell

Of course there are always many questions concerning bipolar. And I am always willing to answer anyone who is willing to ask. Here are just a few questions that have been presented to me.

“What is it like for you to have bipolar?”

I really don’t know what it’s like NOT to have bipolar. I know my manic episodes tend to leave me restless. I’m always wanting to do something, which in turn leads to some very long, sleepless nights with thousands of thoughts that run through my head with no way of organizing them.

“Do you believe bipolar has ‘taken’ from you? What has it gifted you with?”

I really don’t think bipolar has taken anything away from me. It was meant for me to have this illness for a reason, therefore I feel as though I’m not missing out on anything. I wouldn’t have answered it this way 14 years ago. I truly believe that individuals with bipolar are gifted with the talents of creativity. Whatever that might be for them. The bipolar mind tends to work in a creative fashion more so than those who are not bipolar.

Katherine P. Rankin, Ph.D. and colleagues at the University of California-San Francisco comment, “It is well-established that people with affective disorders tend to be overrepresented in the creative artist population (especially those with bipolar disorder). Bipolar disorder may carry certain advantages for creativity, especially in those who have milder symptoms.”

“How does bipolar affect your love life?”

To be honest, I can’t seem to get enough loving. Especially when I’m on a manic episode. My wife seems to not mind this at all.

“What are some things that people can do to help you when you are struggling with a depressive episode?”

I appreciate it when others are just there for me. I still have my days, but when I’m in a low moment, just let me ride it out and remind me that in the end, I’m going to be just fine."

"How do you react to medication?"

When I was first put on medication, my body and mind had to adjust. I went through several med cocktails before the right blend was found. I went through some tough anxiety episodes and some bad depressive moments in the process. Now that I’m stable, I wouldn’t want to find out what bipolar is like without medication.

“What is bipolar disorder?”

Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a mental disorder with periods of depression and periods of elevated mood. The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania, depending on its severity, or whether symptoms of psychosis are present. During mania, an individual behaves or feels abnormally energetic, happy or irritable. Individuals often make poorly thought out decisions with little regard to the consequences. The need for sleep is usually reduced during manic phases. During periods of depression there may be crying, a negative outlook on life, and poor eye contact with others. The risk of suicide among those with the illness is high at greater than six percent over 20 years, while self-harm occurs in 30–40 percent of those diagnosed with the disorder.

“What causes bipolar disorder?”

The causes of bipolar disorder likely vary between individuals and the exact mechanism underlying the disorder remains unclear. Genetic influences are believed to account for 60–80 percent of the risk of developing the disorder indicating a strong hereditary component.

“What is your advice to those who love someone with bipolar?”

The only advice I can offer is support, love, patience and education go a long way to support those you love. Understand by educating yourself on the illness. It’s not easy loving someone who is bipolar. But if the love and bond is strong enough, it’s not impossible. Have fun and enjoy the good days. Support them on the bad days. Take much needed breaks for yourself. Support is not a one way street. Your mind has to be healthy if you expect theirs to be also.

So, here is my view from my journey through life with bipolar. I have loved, I have failed and I have succeeded. But I am still here on my journey. Still learning about myself and still loving my life for what it is. I have no regrets and I am becoming a better version of myself each and every day. You might think I’m broken, but I’m not. I am just scarred from all the living I have done. Does having bipolar change anything about me? No. I’m still me. I am just a bit more special than most.

This post previously appeared on The Good Men Project

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