Bipolar disorder: a slideshow

What I find interesting is how people who share some distinct trait, belief, or status–however rare–seem to gravitate toward one another without any conscious effort whatsoever. If agnostics and people who believe in some amorphous “higher power” are not included, the percentage of atheists in the U.S. apparently ranges from around 5% to around 15%, depending on the parameters of the survey. Yet well over half of the people I associate with are atheists by any measure. Similarly, this Web MD slide show cites the 2% figure I have seen elsewhere with respect to the fraction of the population believed to be afflicted with bipolar disorder; I’d have to say that a far greater fraction of my friends and associates have been diagnosed as bipolar.

Anyway, the slide show is a great overview. The curse of bipolar disorder is that people with it, especially in its less explosive forms, usually find the manic or hypomanic phases not only tolerable but enjoyable, and may often be more productive in some areas of their lives (or at least believe that this is the case). So when the depression hits, they find it easy to believe that their moods are under conscious control and that if they simply fight to reclaim the high of days and weeks past, it can happen. Since this is not how things work, people already experiencing “organic” depression excoriate themselves for their perceived weakness and incompetence, perpetuating a very nasty cycle within a population already apt to have alienated most everyone in their lives and thus operating largely in isolation.

Humans break so damned easily.

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  1. #1 by Kim on February 28, 2010 - 4:58 pm

    i’m up and down like a freakshow. gotta wonder about this bipolar stuff sometimes. I do like the super, gotta get everything done days and i feel better having done so much despite how rushed and chaotic it may be. on crummy days, i can sit and stare at this computer while hours pass. then i feel bad for having done nothing. this hinders my ability to just go out and make money with what i know how to do. too many down days of staring with a combination of realizing failure – i think i can work for myself but, in reality, it could go nowhere and i’d be screwed come july when the unemployment benefits run out.

  2. #2 by Warren on March 1, 2010 - 9:45 pm

    I started on Lamictal (lamotrigine) last month; this is my fifth week. Dx. BP I with a bit of cyclothymia thrown in for giggles. To avoid that nasty skin-falling-off syndrome, we’ve been ramping the dose up slowly. I’m at 100 mg now and don’t seem to have any bad side-effects, but it’s not quite enough yet.

    It definitely got the manic phase suppressed, though, which is a bloody good thing. Not fully under control yet, but significantly attenuated.

    I’ve noticed a similar tendency for people to sort of sniff each other out, to congregate. Maybe there’s sensitivity to subconscious cues. It might be interesting to see some studies done on the subject, but I bet people who participated would themselves be self-selected, which would tend to skew the results…

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