You are not alone

Bipolar disorder  is also known as “manic depression”  where the individual experiences ” high’s” (mania )  and “low’s” (depression) mood swings which can be short, last for a couple of hours or a few days, several weeks or even months.  The period of high’s and low’s varies from person to person.  For some they may recognize the severe moods, while others are not conscious that they have bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Everyone has a variety of mood and feelings  that includes anger, fear, joy and frustration.  For some of us it may last for a couple of hours or several days.  For those who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder that experience manic episodes and depression.

The manic phase includes the following symptoms:

  • heightened sense of self-importance
  • exaggerated positive outlook
  • lack of need to sleep
  •  poor appetite and weight loss
  • racing speech
  •  changing ideas from one subject to the next
  •  lack of concentration
  •  increased activity level
  •  excessive involvement in pleasurable activities
  •  poor choices in finance
  • excessive irritability, aggressive behavior

The depression phase includes the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • lost of interest in pleasurable activities
  •  trouble sleeping ; early morning wakening
  • lack of energy and tired all the time
  •  low self-esteem or guilt
  •  negative thoughts about the future
  •  weight gain or weight loss
  •  talk about suicide or death

Military service can drastically affect service members which has a lasting effect on their performance while on duty.  As a military spouse and counselor, I have seen both sides of the fear of not reporting  and  the stigma affects everyone involved.  We have seen an increased in the amount of suicide rates, for instance in 2010,  the suicide rate was 22 per 100,000 in the Army while in the Marines it was 24 per 100, 000 compared to 18 per 100, 000 for the general population ( NAMI, 2014).

It has been recently been brought to my attention that several individuals fear the consequences of going to see a mental health professional which would affect their promotion. We must advocate and speak up to all the branches of the service and let them know that this not only affects the service member, but it also affects their families as well.  I also recall a mother-in law who was in tears because her son-in law committed suicide. He was a young man who was deployed and ended his life.

I volunteered at a food pantry that feeds the homeless and I meet several individuals that showed symptoms of several types of mental illness. Know that we are not alone and we need to educate everyone so that we can address mental illness. This is not going away and we have lost too many. So reach out and get help. Together we will help each other to cope.

Reference:

Bressert, S. (2007). Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression). Psych Central. Retrieved on October 15, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/symptoms-of-bipolar-disorder-manic-depression/000911

NAMI. (2014). Active-duty Service Members.  National Alliance on Mental Illness.  Retrieved on October 15, 2014, from http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Active-duty_Service_Members

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