COLUMN: Insights to a bipolar mind

Nedda Pourahmady

There are times in our lives when we feel as if we are strapped into an emotional roller-coaster. People experience ups and downs in life on a daily basis; however, for some people, including myself, this ride is never-ending and can reach massive peaks and deadly drops.

According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, bipolar disorder affects 2.3 million adults in America, which is about 1.2 percent of the population. Bipolar disorder, according to NAMI, is a mood disorder characterized by episodes of mania and depression which can last anywhere from a few days to months. The mania phase of bipolar consists of a person feeling extremely hyper, irritable and overly self-confident. During this stage, a person also can participate in very risky behaviors they normally wouldn’t even consider doing.

I can clearly remember being in the depressive phase. I would cry non-stop for no reason whatsoever. When you are depressed, it feels as if the world has stopped revolving and everything has come to an end. You feel as if you are to blame for everything that has gone wrong in your life. It’s like the light at the end of the tunnel has suddenly darkened, and there is no way out other than to take your own life.

Another thing I don’t remember, but my family always tells me about, is how I would have hallucinations. Hallucinating is another symptom of bipolar disorder where you see, hear or feel something or someone that isn’t really there. For example, every time I would try to go to sleep, I would hear voices mumbling at rapid paces. Even though I couldn’t quite understand what they were saying, they were still very frightening and disturbing to me.

Most people who are bipolar will have extremely intense episodes, which will require them to be hospitalized. The first time I was hospitalized, when I was only 16, I had many hallucinations. For example, I couldn’t even sleep with the door closed because I had this strange idea in my head that the hospital room was a suffocation chamber. Also, while I was depressed, I blamed myself for killing all my friends in a car accident. As crazy as these hallucinations seemed, they all appeared very real in my mind at the time of my episode.

Being in the hospital for three weeks was absolutely dreadful. I felt as if I were a caged animal being observed in an unfamiliar environment. During these three weeks, however, a team of psychiatrists observed me and asked me questions regarding my thoughts and feelings. After cramming thousands of inquiries into my head and watching my every move, the doctors came up with my diagnosis: bipolar disorder.

To this day, I have not had to spend a minute in a hospital. Thanks to the efforts of both my family and my psychiatrist, I have been kept at a stable, healthy mood for two years now. The medicines I take, Lithium and Abilify, allow me to live life just like anyone else. It’s certainly no picnic, but it is possible to lead a normal, happy life with bipolar disorder.

Nedda Pourahmady is a junior newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].