Bipolar 2

Bipolar 2 Depression – Invisible, yet VERY RealBipolar 2

I have Bipolar 2, which for me manifests itself in long, severe depressive episodes. I literally sleep all day and all night for 2-5 days straight. It has definitely hurt my work performance and reliability, which has cost me some promotions and raises. I even lost a couple of pretty good jobs over the years.

For years, I self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. Undiagnosed and unaware of the cause of my issues with bipolar depression, I continued using and drinking for relief. This really took a toll on my family and my marriage. Finally, I went to see a psychiatrist for help. I continued treatment for a while, but I continued to use. My inner addict wanted nothing to do with quitting my addictions.

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Going through the motions to appease my wife solved only one thing, the ability to continue my active addiction. Playing both sides of the fence, I was unable to get a true measure on the effect the counseling and medications were helping. I soon became frustrated and ended treatment. Then things only got worse, for many years to follow.

I have been in recovery for 2 1/2 years now. With a new clear mind, I am constantly working to find the right mix of anything to help reduce my depressive episodes. I have tried things such as counseling, medication, diet, exercise, no caffeine, and on and on. Stigma and lack of knowledge surrounding mental health issues has really surprised me.

I have Bipolar 2, which for me manifests itself in long, severe depressive episodes Click to Tweet

I mentioned all of that to get to this…My girlfriend has Rheumatoid Arthritis. She has some flare ups at times that cause severe pain and swelling.  Sometimes things are so bad that it can even render her immobile. This is not a condition that I would wish on anyone. I began to notice there were similarities in our afflictions. There are also significant differences in the perception between the two . The issues and challenges with RA are visible. They are physical in nature. I can SEE the swelling and the lack of mobility. I cannot see or feel her pain, but I can SEE her intense reactions to the pain.


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When we met and later moved in together, she did not have much experience in dealing with someone with Bipolar 2. It was difficult for her to wrap her head around my episodes.

She wasn’t vocal with the whole “snap out of it” or “just get up” type stuff. But I could see that she did not understand my depression at all. My up and down moods were taking a toll on our relationship.

One day, I explained to her exactly what I go through on a daily basis. She needed to know how Bipolar 2 makes me feel and the impact the depression has on me. I slept in bed for 24 hours a day. This is not something I want to do. Nor do I want to give up things I enjoy doing, or going to see people I enjoy visiting with. I did not want to be less than at work or at home. Simply because I shut down and “disappeared” for days at a time.

I compared each of my Bipolar 2 symptoms to each of her RA symptoms. She began to understand and show empathy for what I deal with.

Depression is not visible so it is not real, right? WRONG! I believe that is a large part of the stigma that surrounds many types of mental illnesses. We do not ask people with a broken spine to snap out of it. Hey, I know you have a broken leg and can barely walk but I need you to just work through that and come help me move out of my house. Those statements and expectations would be ridiculous.

So how do we fix it?

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