Am I Normal or Not?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have thought maybe I would classify under ultradian/rapid cycle bipolar because my father, grandmother and great-grandfather suffered from bpd and my moods change over the course of hours to a couple of days at most. However I don’t really suffer through “manic” episodes, it changes between “depressed” and “normal”. My “depressed” moments go from being exhausted for no reason, just being.. “done”, being upset that my life will never be as happy as when I was younger, and thinking that the future is pointless because I’ll be in school for 5 years, work through my whole life, then die. But sometimes I seem to “get over” these phases for a couple of hours/days in which I consider my mood to be “normal” and then it repeats. I have not seriously considered suicide, but recently I don’t even want to risk putting myself in a tempting situation.. Would rapidly switching between “normal” and this kind of “depression” be a certain illness?

I am also slightly sceptical though because my mother has always been worried I will inherit the bpd gene so anytime when I was just sad as a younger teen she was worried that I was going through a depression phase. I am wondering if I’m just convincing myself that there’s something wrong with me, when there’s nothing (even though I would NEVER wish for myself or anyone else to experience mental illness)? I don’t know what to do because I feel like even if I go to the Dr, I can answer the questions the “right way” and it may not be accurate. For example, if I am convincing myself I have an illness I’ll answer the questions in a way that will “confirm” it, or if I’m convincing myself it’s all in my head I’ll answer the questions in a way that will “deny” any illness.. I’m confusing myself and I don’t know whether these thoughts would contribute to my “symptoms” or not….. I don’t really know what I’m doing or what I’m looking for from you guys…. I just don’t know.

I’m sorry for my weird thought process, if it doesn’t make sense to me I can’t assume it would make sense to you, but thank you for your time either way. All the best.

A: There is no need to apologize for yourself. You are asking very, very good questions.

First, there are two types of bipolar disorder. Cycling between depression and “normal” is Bipolar II. People who have also had at least one episode of mania are diagnosed with bipolar I. So, if you have bipolar at all, it’s likely that it’s bpII.

However, you ask another really good question: Is it at all likely that you have been made so hypersensitive to the possibility that you have bipolar that you are mistaking normal adolescent hormonal changes and emotional growth for a disorder? I can’t answer that question on the basis of a letter. What I can do is suggest that you make an appointment with a mental health professional and take your letter with you to the first session. Your letter describes the situation very well. Asking the counselor to read it first thing will help her understand your confusion. The counselor will then be able to ask you questions that will help determine what’s going on.

I do think that settling the question will be helpful to you. You don’t want to be constantly second-guessing yourself or worrying about yourself every time you have a sad feeling. On the other hand, if you do have bipolar II, you may want to consider some treatment so that you can manage it effectively. It doesn’t have to dominate your life.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Apr 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Am I Normal or Not?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/04/22/am-i-normal-or-not/