Disclaimer: The only reason I’m not getting into the finer details is because this post is entirely to reduce stigma and maybe some misconceptions anyone may have. Anyone can google Bi Polar, Obsessive Compulsive or Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m not a mental health expert or doctor. I just want to help create a clearer picture of what these mental health problems are for those of you who may not understand them.
Bi Polar Disorder (formerly known as manic depression) causes unusual, sometimes extreme shifts in mood, energy and activity levels. In short a person with Bi Polar disorder can experience hysterically happy moods along with exceedingly low periods. These intense feelings of elation and unhappiness are not the same as feelings people commonly experience. I often hear people calling someone who is “moody” as Bi Polar, someone with this disorder will show more obvious symptoms than a few bad moods. There are different types of the disorder, mainly for diagnostic and treatment purposes. These (Type I, Type II, Cyclothymic) are usually defined by the severity of the episodes, the period of time a manic episode lasts for, how severe the mania is (hypo-mania is less severe) along with many more factors. Not getting into the finer details as explained in my disclaimer.
This is a chart I made with an outline of some symptoms:
|Manic Episode||Depressive Episode|
|Increase in activity levels, hyperactive||Lack of concentration|
|High energy, able to run on very little sleep||Low energy, sleeping/eating too much or too little|
|Rapid, racing thoughts and speaking very fast, jump from one topic to another||Suicidal thinking, thoughts of death and dying|
|Frustrated, agitated, can seem wired||Feeling worried, anxious|
|Reckless, poor decision making (impulsive spending, promiscuous activity, seeking out dangerous situations etc)||Lack of interest, enthusiasm for usual activities/hobbies, cannot enjoy anything|
|Increased self-esteem about ideas and an unrealistic belief of ones abilities, may engage in eccentric behavior||Low sense of self-worth and decreased self-esteem|
|Complete distractibility or over excitement and extreme focus on goals||Feeling teary, sad and hopeless|
It is difficult to compare which is worse, a euphoric high or a crushing low. A manic episode is a lot more than simply feeling a bit hyper. The consequences of a manic episode can literally change the course of a sufferer’s life forever. Many people with Bi-polar disorder describe feelings of shame when coming down from a high. Going on a mad night out and accidentally ruining your life is a common occurrence, we’ve all been there when you’re young and reckless. Waking up with a raging hangover and having flashbacks of every stupid thing you did last night is mortifying. Next time you find yourself with the dreaded “Fear” imagine a world in which losing control and making poor decisions is part of a horrible illness you have. You don’t have a choice in the matter and have done nothing to deserve it, awful thought isn’t it? Over 40,000 Irish people suffer from Bi-polar so it is not uncommon but unfortunately the judgement and stigma is.
At the other end of the spectrum you have the lows which come with a lot of pain, misery, and self-doubt. With a bit of shame, despair, emptiness, guilt and feelings of absolute hopelessness thrown in for good measure. It’s all a big rollercoaster of emotions, as you can imagine Bi-polar disorder can come with severe consequences if left untreated. Episodes of mania can led to impulsive spending (hello, bankruptcy) and promiscuity (hello STI and/or unplanned pregnancy) to name a few. Bi-polar may go undetected for years so it is important to be aware of the signs. It is usually successfully treated through therapies and mood stabilising medication. Many people with Bi-polar disorder have happy and successful lives.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Ok so this illness is pretty much an absolute mind karfuffle , complicated and I would be here forever if I tried to explain every aspect of OCD. Important informative point: if you are a really clean/organised person who likes to make statements such as “OMG I am just so OCD” Stop it. Seriously. Cut that shit out.
OCD is actually an anxiety disorder which causes unwanted images and intrusive thoughts. These thoughts or images are repetitive and often highly distressing. These are called obsessions, these can come in many forms as can compulsions which are acts OCD sufferers typically use to try and “get rid” of their distressing obsessions.
Here I am trying to explain what I mean with another self-made table with examples of both:
|Fear of germs, bacteria and contamination|
|Unwanted, inappropriate sexual thoughts|
|Inability to throw out old useless items|
|Unreasonable fear of harming others|
|Fear of things being unsafe|
|Aggressive thoughts towards others or self|
|Excessive concern with offending God (blasphemous thoughts)|
|Irrational fear of causing an accident|
|Overly concerned about health, fear of physical illness without reason|
|Repeating words, phrases, prayers etc.|
|Arranging things in a certain way|
|Performing rituals in a particular way brushing teeth, hair, dressing etc|
|Repeatedly checking things (electrical items off, doors locked etc|
|Only wearing certain colours|
|Counting excessively over and over|
|Frequent, excessive hand-washing and cleaning|
|Repeatedly checking in on people|
|Repeating physical activities|
|Checking body for anything unusual|
Just to be clear no one with OCD chooses their obsessions. They are extremely frightening and can lead to the sufferer feeling ashamed. Have you ever been talking to someone and just thought; imagine if I just suddenly punched them in the face or have you ever been standing near water and had this weird little fear that you are suddenly going to throw your phone in for no reason. There are little niggles, quirks and random things that pop into our heads that are totally common because our brains are weird and they like to play tricks on us. But with Obsessive Compulsive disorder, these thoughts are constant and completely out of control. A person with OCD usually knows that their obsessions are unrealistic but cannot ignore them when unwell. They know that there’s no hope in hell of ever bringing any harm to anyone but may have the strange, intrusive thought of doing so and feel they need to engage in a certain activity to keep them safe from carrying out the action. These obsessions can completely take over a person with OCD’s life, cause them severe distress and leave them in a dark, scary place.
Those with OCD usually use compulsions as a sort of coping mechanism to deal with their obsessions. They can temporarily reduce the anxiety or fear but the more the compulsion is carried out, the stronger the urge becomes to continue using this response to an obsession. Compulsions can also occur on their own separate from an obsession. Like I said at the beginning: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be confusing, difficult to understand and incredibly complicated. Now imagine actually having it. OCD falls victim to a lot of misconceptions. There is treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, medications, therapies also techniques like mindfulness and meditation can be helpful. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is said to be highly effective in treating OCD. Like all other mental illnesses Obsessive Compulsive Disorder impacts everyone differently, the severity may vary, it is completely normal for symptoms to get worse during stressful times. It is all about getting help and support to find out what works for the individual.
Borderline Personality Disorder
This illness is another big mind kafuffle which many seem to not have ever even heard of. And for some strange coincidence I have a lot of friends with this diagnoses. And I have seen what a horrible impact it can have on those inflicted with it. Seriously, it is an awful illness that shatters people’s lives. BPD is an illness which causes abnormal patterns of behaviour and mood. It causes extreme emotions, distorted self-image and view of others as well as difficulty maintaining close relationships. BPD also comes with intense feelings of abandonment and fear of being alone.
A person with borderline personality disorder may show signs of:
- Inappropriate anger
- Impulsivity, risk taking
- Antagonistic behaviour
- Difficulty controlling emotions
- Feelings of neglect or seeming misunderstood
- Suicidal behaviour
- Episodes of dislocation
- Psychotic episodes
- May be suspicious or paranoid
- Unstable relationship with people
- Distorted self-image
- Have a tendency to push others away but then also feel abandoned
- Highly sensitive and reactive
- Rigid “black-or-white-no-grey-areas” thinking
The thing about BPD is it can often be missed or overlooked when searching for a diagnoses. The name is awful and like many other illness causes people to generally have a very warped view of what it actually is. Borderline does not make someone a bad person, but it does make their personality confusing not just to everyone else but mainly for themselves. Feeling like you want to be alone but at the same time craving company, fearing rejection, illogically analysing everything; surely most of us can relate to those? But with BPD these feelings and behaviours are not only extremely intense but also at times can be completely out of control.
Borderline Personality is difficult to live with but there are treatments that help manage the illness and improve quality of life. BPD can be treated with medications, practicing self-care activities and talk therapies. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is known to be popular and effective for BPD. A bit of patience and understanding goes a long way in helping someone you may know on the road to recovery, along with a lot of love.
I could go into more detail about these mental health problems but hopefully anyone who was curious got the gist from what I’ve covered. If you managed to read this post in its entirety fair play because I tend to waffle on. If you have any of these diagnoses and feel I have gotten anything wrong, misconstrued any elements or failed to cover important points; I apologise, I tried my best!
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Keep Shining On