We often shy away from complexity. It makes our stomachs churn, heads ache, eyes grow tired until we are unable to bear the weight of oblivion that we have forcefully befriended. Yet it is in our nature to crave answers, and psychology does just that. Psychology aims to explain and simplify our world through scientific findings. However, the intricacies of the subject, specifically of the disorders, are hard to grasp. Bipolar disorder has always been enigmatic to me: to comprehend without relating is a struggle of its own. I soon enough realized that I could draw on what I had experienced and connect it to bipolar disorder in order to understand.
Bipolar disorder, in general, is similar to riding up and down a hill, an activity most of us spent vast time participating in. For those who have disorder, the emotions experienced are intense and unstable. They changing like a bumpy road, constantly fluctuating. Riding downhill is pleasurable, providing the euphoric high that feels like immortality, just as a manic episode does. Those who experience manic episodes feel optimistic and impulsive. Their bursts of energy and blithe nature cause them to thrive and enjoy their lives to the fullest. However, the illusion of normal bliss can actually lead to danger: with such carefree elation, an accident is bound to occur. Just as riding a bike downhill can result in dangers that we fail to anticipate, bipolar disorder is the same way. The mania can cause damage to themselves and the surrounding world, yet its effects are no visible until it is too late.
Riding up a hill requires the rider to start from a low-point. The travel expends a great amount of energy that the rider may not have. Motivation is replaced with tiredness and soreness, the person’s mind filling with thoughts of hopelessness as they struggle to overcome the hill. Similarly, depressive episodes interfere with a person’s ability to function, leaving them in grave despair. Depression is half of the battle in bipolar disorder. The mania can easily turn into a depressive mood, where the person cannot perform their previously enjoyable tasks. Their energy drains as they struggle to overcome their depressive hill with no sights of a brighter future.
To people who may not deal with bipolar disorder, our journeys consist of a jagged road: we face obstacles, yet our experiences are undeniably different. The cycle of bipolar disorder is continuous. Those who face it are plagued with intense emotional changes and the resulting instability, question what reality truly is. Since we cannot relate to their struggles, our society demonizes such disorders: the strangeness of what we cannot make sense of is no friend. Such stigmas add to the existing dilemmas of bipolar disorder. They prevent productive discussions that could help improve the lives of those who face the disorder. Breaking down the built up stigma is incredibly important, and it starts with a general understanding.
In my community — the South Asian community– the topic of mental health is avoided completely. Many believes that the disorder do not exist or are results of “spending too much time on technology”. No matter the reasoning, mental health struggles are dismissed with no available resources, which makes it much harder to reach out for help. There is no place for discussion, rather just feelings of insanity. Bipolar disorder is no exception. These stigmas hold not just my community but all communities back from progressing and improving our ways of living.
Bipolar disorder is a disorder that we cannot truly understand if we have not dealt with it ourselves, yet the importance of empathizing is quite clear. Linking two seemingly contradictory objects is an unappreciated talent, one that can hold immense power. It is thought that there is no need for such capabilities as we mature, but that is far from the truth. These connections often allow us to simplify the complex, reducing the nag of unfamiliarity that we all face: a strive that is part of human nature. The simplification through connections of such profound topics enables us to better understand bipolar disorder– a hill with ups and downs: mania and depression.