I knew something was wrong for years, but I figured I was just complaining — other people need help more than I do. Recently, my father was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. After he was diagnosed and started to take medicine, he sat me down and told me it was alright for me to get help too, whenever I felt it necessary. He had noticed much of the same behavior in me — we think and do so much alike that it is almost scary. I do notice cycles of I’m ok, I’m normal, I feel great. In these times, I can stay up as late as I want, I can start project after project, and my brain is moving so fast that when I try to explain, I just can’t. I say things I wouldn’t normally say, things no socially expectable. I do crazy embarrassing things and don’t feel them. Then I notice periods where I can’t mustard the strength to get out of bed. Everything I see makes me cry and feel like there is nothing in the world that is ok or good. During these periods, I often sleep a lot. The other day I slept 10 hours after taking a 2 and a half hour nap. Things like that. Is there something actually wrong with my head? Or am I just complaining? Is going to get help worth it? Or will they tell me to suck it up? Advice?Is Help Worth It? Bipolar?
Is Help Worth It? Bipolar?
Let me answer your questions directly. You are not a complainer. Yes, it is worth seeking help. No, you will not be told to “suck it up.”
I have had many bipolar clients who have described their symptoms with nearly the identical language that you have used. It doesn’t mean that you are bipolar, but your symptoms are similar. It is enough to suspect bipolar but not enough to diagnose bipolar. You need an in-person evaluation by a clinician to receive a diagnosis.
You might erroneously believe that you should be able to solve your own problems. Unfortunately, it is this kind of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality” that prevents many people from seeking psychological help.
If you broke your leg, I highly doubt that you would call yourself a complainer or believe that you need to “suck it up.” Instead you would probably go straight to the emergency room where you would be treated by experts who know how to fix broken bones.
We should take that same approach when it comes to psychological problems. When there’s a problem, you should see an expert.
Most people wouldn’t hesitate to see a specialist for broken bones yet many are reluctant to consult a specialist for psychological problems. It makes them feel weak and people don’t like to feel weak.
Your father is good role model for you. He is anything but weak. He sought help and is now doing better and wants the same for you. You should follow his lead.
He suggested that you might have bipolar disorder. He might be correct, but he is not trained to give mental health diagnoses. That’s why you need to consult a mental health professional. He or she can determine what might be wrong and most importantly, develop a treatment plan that specifically addresses your symptoms.
I hope that you will take your father’s advice and seek help. Your symptoms are clearly degrading your life. Good treatments exist for virtually all mental health disorders. Utilize the help that is available. I wish you and your father the best of luck. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle