A few weeks ago after spending a fun filled day with a good friend of mine which we will call Sally for anonymous reasons, after spending the day with Sally, I had a first class seat in watching her experience a bipolar episode. While I have always known that she has a bipolar disorder, she and I have always been open about our issues and private lives. I actually never saw her shift from happy and full of energy to majorly depressed in a matter of 30 minutes or so, if I’m correct on timing.
I have however, have seen Sally in her euphoric mania episodes and although her behavior sparked my curiosity, I just let her be and except her for who she is. I also found it amazing how she is completely aware of her mania and explained to me why she was behaving that way.
This time it was different, like I mentioned earlier I had never seen her in a low moment. There she was happy go lucky, singing and listening to her favorite songs and in the middle of it all she breaks down, could rarely move and began to cry with an immense look of sadness and despair across her face. At first I was saying to myself “what happened, she was so happy a minute ago, dancing beautifully in the middle of the room, what’s going on?” I was concerned, confused and I was worried. I decided to walk her to the couch, ask her if there was anything I could do, she told me she wanted to lay down, so I helped her and then I held her hand.
After some time she came out of it, she then wanted to explain to me in full detail what had occurred, I told Sally she did not need to explain, by then I understood. It was close to bed time so I said my good night’s and told her to call me if she needed me and I would be there for her. Of course, I did call her before I went to sleep and again the next morning to let her know how important she is in my life and how I value her friendship. The following week we met for pizza and a movie, and we continued our friendship as usual.
Individuals with bipolar disorder which is also known as manic depression, experience symptoms of mood swings that vary from low depression to high mania or the other way around. Ex: When depressed the individual may have feelings of sadness or hopelessness and lose interest in many activities. When the mood shifts they may feel exhilarated with lots of energy. Mood shifts can occur several times a day or only a few times a year. There are cases where symptoms of depression and mania can occur at the same time. For more information on bipolar disorder visit nami.org.