What's it Like to Have Bipolar 1 Disorder?

How can bipolar 1 feel for someone who has it, and this will be difficult to describe completely because, as you know, each person is different? In my experience, bipolar 1 can feel good sometimes because the mania can be a bit euphoric. This feeling does not always last long, but when my patients are going through a manic episode, they may have difficulty seeing it as a problem and feeling good about how productive they are and are enjoying the energy. I have also had patients and spectators tell me that the mania can often be really uncomfortable, almost as if it wanted to get out of their skin. If we encounter a mixed episode (when we have mania and depression at the same time) we may feel irritable and uncomfortable. This can also happen if someone prevents us from doing what we want when we are manic or we get in the way of engaging in manic behavior. This happened in sessions in which I noticed that a patient is manic and I try to intervene. They can be really angry and angry. So you should know that while mania can feel good sometimes, it is not always like that. Like any mental illness, we have to ask questions and try to understand how is the person in our life who has bipolar disorder. That way we can understand them better and their experience.

Bipolar disorder is associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from low depressive to high manic. The treatment is usually for life and often involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Therapies include: support group, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, family therapy and psychotherapy

Anticonvulsant, antipsychotic and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)

Please consult a doctor for medical advice.
Sources: Mayo Clinic and others.

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What's it Like to Have Bipolar 1 Disorder?

Comments 44

  1. I have bipolar I with psychosis during episodes. It's a nightmare when it happens. During a manic episode, I will start a ton of projects and never follow through with them–Just got myself into that predicament. I've ended up in a different country thinking it was a great idea or have gone to a different state to party on a whim. If I am not doing things like that, I am extremely agitated and will snap at someone for asking me a question, especially one I have gone over before. During a depression episode, I won't get out of bed and I will call out of work. It feels like my energy has been completely drained and causes issue with my job and social life. I'll lose interest in everything and anything. It's like there's no life or passion and it is extremely frustrating because most of the time, there's no reason for it. It just is. During a mixed episode, it just gets bat-shit crazy. All my mood changes are always intense too, I can't even hide them. When I am in one of my episodes–and the part that gave me the psychosis diagnosis–I will start hearing things or seeing things that aren't there. Especially "shadow people" as it's been called. It's scary but sometimes I don't even realize it's happening and feels completely normal. I'll detach from the reality around me and everything seems dreamy. Colors become more vibrant, people could talk to me but it doesn't feel real, etc. I've been in the hospital enough times to where I know I'll never be able to just stop going to a doctor or medication. When I'm stable, you would have no idea that I'm bipolar. I accomplish a lot, finish projects, have more life in–but the healthy way–, and so forth. Luckily stability can last months before another episode happens.

    I know I will never be "okay" and normal. It sucks and it's embarrassing, but at least I am sticking to a routine and getting the help I need.

  2. Katy can you make a video talking about bpd and bipolar disorder together? I was diagnosed with bpd and bipolar 1. Thank you🌼

  3. Very helpful and informative about Bipolar! I also have and make videos about health if you are interested. Thanks Kati

  4. I request a video on Borderline Personality Disorder and the “ favorite person” how do you get over them if they don’t want to be with you?

  5. Hey Katie, I like that you're hear to educate the community, but do you think that in the way it's put out here that if people feel like they can relate to what you're saying and if their parents are against them getting help from other adults because they feel attacked that it isn't always helpful in how much it seems you're on the our side? That might sound confusing but does it make sense? Is it just my viewpoint that makes your way of education g and advocating a bad thing at times?

  6. I have cyclothymia, which is a milder form, but 'mania' feels like everyone else is moving and thinking too slow. I don't recall being quick to anger – almost the opposite really. In my case it exhibited itself mostly as a creative spree, but almost never anything to completion (that might be another condition). Confidence would increase, -it was easy to date, to be on point, to be charming. When the depression hits it's like nothing could possibly work out, feeling irrelevant and slow. Guilt (often from unfinished projects taken on during the mania), shame, anger, frustration.

    In HS I remember really being moved by Flowers for Algernon, and later realised it was because that's what it felt like to be smart and stupid at the same time. To live in sunshine and pulled back into shadow. Teachers taught so little, so slowly, yet I did poorly as a student. Over time you lose faith in yourself, and the depressive phases dominate.

    I'm nervous to say this on this forum as everything becomes part of your record, to be used and abused as desired. Just FYI.

  7. Loss of things that are important to me like our daughter’s and grandchildren. Feel shame. It is hard.

  8. aldbwjrnrbalfjw i was just recently
    diagnosed with bipolar 1 and i’m so thankful you uploaded this ❤️

  9. I have bipolar 1, it was a rough ride for awhile. But i finally are on the right meds. And i work full-time at something i love and enjoy. I have a son and a wife. It really can get better and under control but it takes time and patients to get there. So anyone who is dealing with this just remember there a light at the end of the tunnel an keep your chin up.

  10. As someone recently diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder, this was a great video. I regret so many things I did in my manic episode, but now I'm on medication and I'm stable so things worked out

  11. The not being able to get a word in edge wise is everyone I know. I rarely can get a word in edge wise.

  12. I shaved my hair off in a manic episode… I was very depressed on top of the mania and aggravated with my hair being knotted and my roots coming in.
    I was homeless at the time and I didn’t see any way to “fix my hair” so I just shaved it off. Then my boyfriends family reached out to me because they were worried. They offered a place for me to stay. And since I came down off my mania I regret doing it. I thought it was super rational and fun at the time though. 😂

  13. I willing share my episode with bipolar 1. It feels like when you Manic you are felt much more self-confident than usual, you have a race ideas but there not always good when your good one it's feel very fun at times and enjoy blow but it usual stress out and never can get it to your goals because there not really goals that you can make happen there way too big solving trying big world problems a by yourself or how I can become pro in sports but when bad ideas can do thinking you wish never did in the the first place but in both there is very little sleep also no sleep and its can last for a few days or a lot days most like for me like 3 weeks so its such too at same. Depressed is very hard too. You can live with bipolar and live pretty normal life and a succeful person I in college at TU go owls! I also a serious and I got great grades so far and I also looking for work in sports at same time right now and still have time do things you love to do,for me its play sports,workout,listen to Music,going to concerts,seeing art and do art and getting college and hanging out my friends.even some people you look up to have bipolar.

  14. I have been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 with anxiety and severe depression when I’m having a episode I feel it coming on I get agitated and my mood completely change it feels like something going on inside my head an it’s hard to describe what’s going on

  15. Thank you so much for this video. I have Bipolar and am not great at explaining how it makes me feel etc to my family. I’ve shared this with them this evening xx

  16. Hi Kati, I know you have a couple of videos about finding the right therapist, but I couldn't find an answer to my problem.

    I've been in therapy for a couple of years now and I've had many different therapists/psychiatrists, and now I'm at the point where I have to choose with whom to continue. Sometimes I like them a lot and I feel safe enough to tell them stuff (which is a big thing since I have PTSD), but I keep finding myself withholding things. Now there is one who can always see right through me. Therefore we get a lot deeper in less time, but I don't feel safe enough to tell her things myself. I always feel judged (which happens very quickly).

    Now I find it really hard to decide if I have to pick 'a safe one' or go through with the one who sees everything.
    It's a luxury problem, but can you please help?

  17. If we have all that symptoms but don’t have talkative feature what are we? Still consider as bi polar disorder?

  18. When I’m manic, I feel like I am on drugs. Imagine if you took a ton of adderall or way too much caffeine or cocaine. I have so much energy, I’m ready to drop everything and move to Greece like in Mama Mia.
    It feels like everything in my life is falling apart, and it’s all my fault because I’m the one who made the mess.
    When I’m depressed, I feel nothing. Just a void inside of me. Despair and loathing and hopelessness and anger.
    But most of all, bipolar 1 feels unfair.
    Unfair that I’m 20 and have to take 3 medications just to live a normal life.
    But the thing is, the medicine helps SO much, and I am living a pretty successful life. The most important thing with bipolar is identifying it, because then you can treat it. Bipolar is no reason not to live a fulfilling life.

  19. I am irritable all the time, was beat by my dad and picked on at school day in day out over and over. When I'm depressed I'm irritable, when I'm manic I'm irritable. Also paranoid of relationships ending. I hate myself. I also experience sudden inappropriate laughter, or crying.

  20. I don’t have bipolar 1, but bipolar 2. I get really annoyed and disappointed when I’m told I need to take medication to make me sleep when I’m having hypomania because a few hours feels enough. Lack of sleep impacts in my decision making/judgment/insight. I’m learning to participate in ‘safe’ behaviours when hypomanic eg I garden, clean all day/evening. I keep myself busy with exercise. I allow myself to make grand plans but have a ‘deal’ to wait 24 hours/1 week (whatever feels reasonable at the time) and ask for 2 other opinions about it. My grand plans are often to do with study, career, physical accomplishments etc. These aren’t always usual achievable things that I can do overnight because of the depressive states I end up in. If I have the urge to shop, I go to second hand/thrift shops. I’m spending less money that way and it takes longer to find things. I am learning to think before I speak and be prepared to repair anything that might be embarrassing or awkward. I often share too much info. The next step of that is to remind myself of the guilt and embarrassment this will cause when I come down. I think of how many hours I need to work to pay for frivolous things and consider if it’s really needed.
    The drop into depression is awful. I really resent having to take medication to calm the hypomania. I remind myself how important my relationships, work and financial situation is. It really sucks. It’s very scary and emotionally painful dropping down. I really have to focus on getting the basics done. Eat, sleep. Try to exercise/work/socialise and keep safe.

    I often feel like I’m destined to be depressed as this is considered safer than hypomania/mania. In some ways I agree eg personal safety from accidental injury is a risk. In other ways I disagree because I feel self harm is more of a risk when low. I just have to trust what health professionals say because I’m aware my insight is poor. When I’m ‘normal’ I’m astonished at how I live most of the time. It’s exhausting and constant. I had a really good medication regime going but am temporarily weaning off under supervision because of medical reasons. I can’t take antidepressants because they make me much worse. There are some antipsychotics available if I need. Right now I think I’m fumbling through ok with skills I’ve learnt/am learning with Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. I’ve done short courses in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. I need ALOT of help which is difficult to ask for as I’ve been so independent all my life before the deterioration and diagnosis a couple of years ago.

    I also need to manage a physical chronic health condition that needs 24/7 care that involves constant monitoring and self adjustments of medication. While I have monthly support in this, day to day I am in my own. I tend to have better management when I’m hypomanic than depressed which adds to my frustration and reluctance to report hypomanic behaviours.

  21. Could you make a video about insomnia, depression and anxiety? All combined?
    Im currently having anxiety. I sleep during the day and stay awake all night until 7/8am every day. It's so stressfull and exhausting

  22. I’m 16 and was diagnosed bipolar 1 about a month ago. The doctor I had before my new one misdiagnosed me with depression kind of like mentioned in the video.
    But for me, bipolar makes me feel out of control and frustrated due to that lack of control. When I fall into a depression, I have crying spells and sleep a little more then usual. I often feel like I will never be happy again. But then, within a week to a month.. I feel right back on track.. So motivated I feel like I can do anything. As the middle of the night approaches, I stay up till 8 in the morning thinking of all the amazing things I could be doing instead of sleeping. So I stay up all night getting things done and feeling so excited while my thoughts race miles ahead of my actions. Whether depressed or manic, I feel very irritable and often snap at people I care about. I later feel guilt and wish I had better control. Bipolar is a rollercoaster of dipping into depression and then eventually back up to mania. I’ve become use to it, knowing that as I am in a manic state, it wont last forever so I try to use it to my advantage and get as much done as humanly possible before I dip into depression again. Thats a bit of what bipolar is like for me

  23. Hi Katie! I was interested in becoming a therapist but l have no idea where to begin or what to specialize or where to go? There are so many complications I’d love it if l could get some guidance? I don’t have a ton of money to go to a private school for so many years for a degree

  24. I was diagnosed with bipolar mania. The diagnosis was shared with me about 3 years ago, by my former therapist (former because she retired). I'm curious if bipolar 1 is the same as bipolar mania. Here's what I've experienced. I feel like there are 2 different mes; one that's the normal me, who really doesn't want to hurt anyone. And the other me; basically the opposite of me. I feel like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. My personality is more akin to Dr. Jekyl's, but there are times when Mr. Hyde crashes the party. I'm on meds (proscribed by my psychiatrist), and see a therapist, but crap still happens. That being said, I've also found that I can relate to others on a deeper level (I don't like small talk) in the fact that their worst days of their lives are a walk in the park for me. Would I wish this (having bipolar) on anyone? As Gabriel Iglesias puts it, "Oh hell no!" It comes with stigmas. But I will say that because I have bipolar, I've had to train myself to be very focused when doing stuff, like cooking a meal or tasks that I do at work. It's taken me years to be this focused. Actually, I think that I annoy some of the people I know with how focused I am. But I feel like it's my laser like focus that helps my out. It's when I get scatter brained that I know an episode is probably going to occur. I'll be 38 years old this December, and I believe I was diagnosed with bipolar in October of 1993 (right before I turned 12).

  25. Hi Kati,
    Can you please mention how easy it is for people to take advantage of people with bipolar in cases where they are not with a therapist? Thank you.

  26. Hi Kati, I have a question (its two parts) to ask : I have eating disorder tendencies and people keep saying I'm faking it. It makes me feel like I'm invalidating myself. Why is this?! How can I explain it without self-diagnosing? Second part: I hate eating anything and all (my therapist knows), but whenever someone is interested in my food or wants me to share it, I get really mad. I don't like it but I don't know why! It's so frustrating, could you provide some advice please?

  27. Why was this video flagged for demonetisation? I didn't hear anything offensive at all in it.

  28. really happy that you made this video 🙁 i was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder just a week ago and im very confused about it …. im trying to understand it better and this helps a lot, its really frustrating to not understand whats going on with ur own brain ://

  29. What is the difference between Borderline Personality Disorder vs Bipolar? I'm having a really hard time sorting it out (my sister has been diagnosed with BPD) just want to know how to spot the differences? I have't talked to her in years for extenuating circumstances of course, but would be interesting to know where the differences are? Thank you Kati!

  30. I've had BP1 for a very long time and there have been only a handful of times where I've been stable long enough to realize my personality separate from my disorder. I have not held a job longer than 7 months because stress can make symptoms unmanageable. I am never sure what amount of happy or sad is appropriate and it can cause me a lot of anguish. I also have experience being constantly under the emotional microscope with people who know of my diagnosis. I've lost friends and family who just couldn't understand that my extreme change in feelings were out of my control and thought that I was being selfish. Life is a constant stream of psych medicine appointments and therapy and because of this, I've been deemed disabled.

    I count myself as being blessed though for having a spouse and support system that have made the decision to get to understand that I am not my disorder, but that I suffer through one.

  31. Can you talk about mania being confused with PTSD? I guess this happens a fair amount, especially with cPTSD, because people don't reveal their trauma to a psychiatrist they only see 4 times a year….. I watched a NAMI video where they talked about how insomnia, anxiety, and irritability can look like bipolar, but is simply a triggering of PTSD. The difference is that mania has less need of sleep where as PTSD will have similar sleep hours, but be exhausted. My P kept trying to put me on bipolar drugs despite my insistence that I was not manic (my mother and sister are bipolar, so I see why she was going that route, but I am unusually familiar with what mania looks like!) I finally relented and spent a week in drug induced psychosis. I had to have my therapist call her and explain what was going on for me (I was undergoing an unusual amount of triggers at the time). After they talked, they both agreed it was not bipolar. I share my story because it shows how your treatment team NEEDS to communicate regularly and that you need to be informed about your condition(s) and meds. It was my bipolar sister that instructed me to call my therapist when I was having problems with the med! So it is not a bad idea to let someone you trust know when you are making med changes.

  32. Would definitely love a video like this on Bipolar II as well! One of my best friend was recently diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, along with a few other things. Since I'm not as familiar with Bipolar II, a video would definitely help me understand what she's going through. Thanks!

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