Swinging moods: A dangerous ride

Samantha Tosado

Unpredictable mood swings, depression affect people who have bipolar disorder

Sophomore marketing major Michael Stewart was diagnosed with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder almost a year ago. Rapid cycling is a symptom defined as having four or more episodes a year when moods can change from highs to lows quicker than other types of

Credit: DKS Editors

It’s hard to deny the exhilaration mania brings, but for many with bipolar disorder, there’s a period of denial – a disbelief that the wonderful surge of energy marks a disease that needs treatment.

Sophomore marketing major Michael Stewart has been suffering from depression since he was 8 years old. However, it was not until last year was he diagnosed with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, meaning he experiences several mood swings or episodes a year.

“I was 8 when I first tried to commit suicide,” Stewart said. “I threatened to kill myself with a steak knife.”

He said his friends and family are concerned about him.

“Just them thinking about losing me is unbearable,” he said.

His biggest shock came last October when Stewart planned on committing suicide in Wright Hall. He said the weekend after Halloween he devised a plan to hang himself in his closet. Stewart explained he was going through some tough times and simply fell apart.

“I stopped going to class,” he said. “I just stayed in my room, and I’m not like that at all.”

As determined as Stewart was, his plans changed, thanks to his grandmother.

Four days before his planned suicide, “my grandmother found out she had bipolar and told my mom,” Stewart said. “My mom instantly came to school to pick me up.”

Stewart said a roller-coaster ride of emotions comes along with having a mood disorder.

“You never know what mood you’re going to get,” he said. “The depressed side is pure helplessness.”

Getting straight A’s wasn’t even enough to make him feel OK.

“You’re really disconnected with what’s real and what’s not,” he said. Despite the tough times that Stewart called the “lowest of the lows,” there are also bright sides.

“There is no way to explain the manic side,” he said. “It’s like being drunk, but 100 times better.”

Stewart said most people have a misconception about bipolar disorder.

“All my friends would have never known I was suicidal,” Stewart said. “No one ever says, ‘Oh my god, watch out for him.'”

The best thing is to be open, he said, adding that he’s not afraid or ashamed of his disorder.

“It makes it a lot easier to talk about my problems,” he said. “If you hide it inside so much, you could take it out on yourself.”

Contact features reporter Samantha Tosado

at [email protected].