When most people hear the word bipolar they tend to think it is *just* a case of having mood swings. Which of course it isn't. Having bipolar is a lot more complex than that but today I though I would write a post about some of the symptoms you may not be aware of....
1. Finding it really hard to make and keep friends. When your mind is racing it is really hard to remember to reply to that email or message. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in your own changing moods you forget to check in with your friends.
2. Bad memory. I have the memory of an 80 year old. Sometimes I can watch a film then a few months later have zero recollection of it. I've forgotten whole conversations before. That is why I love making lists and why I am fond of reviewing books and films I have consumed!
3. Nightmares. This is mainly a not so nice side effect of my meds. Every so often I will have the most vivid and petrifying nightmares and will wake up sweating and shaking. It's like being in my own horror film.
4. Being obsessive. Obsessive personalities go hand in hand with bipolar. I have obsessive compulsive tendencies when it comes to a number of things including everything in my room having to be organised in a certain way, checking the doors are locked every night and I also have to do things in eights (or multiples of).
5. Trouble sleeping.Having a rigid sleep routine is really important if you have bipolar as it can have a huge impact on your mood. I go through phases of not being able to sleep at all (my mind will be too busy trying to argue the ten best albums of all time or what that person meant in that conversation we had last week or sometimes my thoughts move way too fast to keep track of). Other times I can sleep too much and still have trouble getting out of bed. Most mornings after forcing myself to get up I feel as if I haven't slept at all.
6. Exhaustion. The above point is kind of connected but I'm not just talking about feeling a bit sleepy I'm talking about your-whole-body-aches-and-hurts type of exhaustion. I'm talking about doing one shift at work and coming home barely able to walk up the stairs.
7. Anxiety. Another thing that goes hand in hand with bipolar is anxiety. This is something I've had since a kid and for me is mainly social anxiety but also busy places, appointments, using the phone and going to places I'm not familiar with. (I've written a post about tips with dealing with anxiety here).
8. Weight gain. With the meds amongst other many side effects* comes weight gain. I recently added another medication to my roster after having a bad episode and this has caused my weight to balloon to the highest it's been. Although I would like to loose some weight I reason that I would prefer to be heavier and not feel the crippling pain I felt without meds.
*headaches, stomach aches, nightmares, dry mouth, fatigue, dizzyness, pounding heartbeat, constipation, feeling weak, swelling arms & legs, fainting, blurred vision, high blood sugar levels, feeling more hungry, feeling irritated, disturbance in speech and language, worsening depression, fever, shortness of breath, vomiting, irregular periods, decrease in certain blood cells. (this is just some of the common side effects of my mood stabiliser meds).
If you would like to read more of my mental health post check out these...
mental health and my comfort zone (here)
Having a mental illness and staying positive (here)
Bipolar awareness day (here)