An Interesting Question Concerning Bipolar Disorder

Candida Abrahamson, (one of our members) made the following comment in response to a reblog I made of an excellent piece that another of our members, Manic Muses, had written….

“I was so appreciative to Manic Musis for this wonderful reference that I actually had to comment twice on her site! It’s an extremely important topic to open to conversation.

I looked at the original article, and the part that concerns me about it is where participants seem grateful for their manic states–which I believe most BD people have felt, but which is alarming, as depression follows that elevation as surely as night follows day, and I worry that touting the positives of the upper pole might even encourage medication non-compliance.

The summary piece writes, “Participants described a wide range of experiences and internal states that they believed they felt to a far greater intensity than those without the condition. These included increased perceptual sensitivity, creativity, focus and clarity of thought.” Those are results of mania/hypomania.”

Candida then goes on to pose this question…

“When fellow members feel grateful for their BD–if they, indeed, do–is there something about it for which they’re thankful that is not inherently tied up in a mood swing? Am quite interested in some open dialogue about it.”

Given the importance of this subject and indeed the relevance of  this question I have copied Candida’s question here so that it does not get missed and would ask members and readers to respond accordingly 🙂



12 comments on “An Interesting Question Concerning Bipolar Disorder

  1. Wishing to encourage the discussion and to lead by example if you will, I will open the responses with some thoughts…

    But before I do and in the spirit of fairness and objectivity I have to preface my remarks with a caviat explaining that I personally have several diagnoses and that sometimes it is difficult therefore to assign a ‘state of mind’ or a ‘set of experiences’ or ‘behaviours’ or indeed ‘ability to function in certain ways’ to any one specific condition. Additionally I should point out that I have had mental health issues for most of if not all of my life. Certainly for as long as I can remember.

    The above having been said, I am very much of the opinion that some of the ‘functioning’ abilities (abilities to function certain ways) that I have are directly or indirectly linked to my state of mental health.

    My ability to multi-task being one such ‘functioning’ abilities. The speed at which my brain operate sometimes being another. The ability to look at things, perceive things and to reason and logic things in ways which most of the people I know do not. Also the level of creativity that I experience.

    Whilst it is true that these are often heightened during times of mania – sometimes to such an extent that they become unmanagable and thus virtually useless to me – it is also true that these are also greatly dulled during times of depression and thus made equally as useless to me. At middle times (when I appear to be experiencing no serious depression or mania) I do still have these abilities and the level of them is the only thing that seems to vary. Admittedly sometimes so much so that they are beyond my reach or beyond my ability to cope with them..

    There is however perhaps a whole ‘chicken and egg’ consideration here though I would suggest. That being the question, “Do I have all those abilities and the state of my mental health is indirectly or directly resultant from them OR are they indeed indirectly or directly resultant from the state of my mental health?

    In terms of my thankfulness well there is a correlation between the extent of the manic state and whether I am able to cope with such things as the speed at which my brain is operating, the level of creative ideas that come flooding, the number of possible different scenarios to a situation or problem or question etc.

    Would I ever become medication non-compolaint in order to retain the manic state? No I am absolutely sure I would not. However, I have and would be medication non-compliant where the medication was impairing my ability to function at an acceptable level.

    For example, I sing, I led worship at the church I attended. I write, paint, sculpt, and draw. I taught both art and creative writing But when my medication was changed my ability to do any of those things became non-existant and indeed functioning on any level became almost too difficult and I felt continually zombified.

    When I expressed this and asked that I be able to reduce my dosages I was told that I had to keep the dosages at the levels they were at. I refused point blank. Medication should, I beieve, where possible enable a quality of life worth living. Did the medication remove the nasty more unwanted symptoms – yes it did – but at too great a cost to that quality of life.

    So there you have it. I hope that was all relevant and helpful. I would be interested to hear what other members think..

    Kind Regards,.


    • This is a quite perceptive and insightful assessment-and does help me put some pieces together. Thank you, Kevin, for your honesty and willing to engage in dialogue in a challenging topic.

  2. Excuse me but my backlog of reading has me confused (nothing new). I’m sure I answered this question somewhere before. Will have to look back and see exactly where I commented. Gosh! Now I’m starting to worry. 😉

    • Hi Cate,

      I have to admit I am struggling this morning. I didn’t sleep at all last night and finally gave up and got up.

      But yes you did answer that already.
      Kind Regards,

  3. Medication non-compliance and I go way back 🙂 And, it’s never been to bring about a manic state, but to control my weight.

    Personally, I’ve never done anything to purposefully bring about a hypomania/mania – the price is just too damn high – but I certainly see why people flirt with disaster. There’s also the attraction of thinking (although you may be stable) you can function like you do during a hypomania/mania briefly because you’ve cheated the odds and done it before. When still working, I pushed myself to achieve deadlines many times. Not with the intent to bring about a mood state change, but because I used to be able to survive on 3 hours of sleep with no consequences and come out on the the other side of projects successful (under schedule, under budget). This has always been goal-based, though (staying up too late, skipping out on rest), in all my years of Bipolar, I have never skipped med so I could get a manic high.

    Weight, as I said, is another issue. I could write volumes on all of the antidepressants and antipsychotics I’ve been non-compliant with just to jump-start losing pounds. But that’s fodder for more blogs over on Manic Muses. Hope this answers some of your questions.

    • Hi MM,

      As someone who really struggles with his weight I can fully understand what you are saying here.

      Hope you at least are winning the battle
      Kind Regards


  4. Ironically I happened across this article today with great surprise and happiness. Obviously, not happiness in finding others suffer, but yet a happiness that others share some of the same questions.

    To answer the question for myself: I am not and would not ever be non-med compliant in order to bring on a manic episode or keep one. My life and family depend on me. With that said I have learned to live, love and teach a balanced life.

    I completely concur that medications should never inhibit the quality of life. I have been there and gone through that once before and misery was my only friend. It wasn’t until another set of medications were found that saved me from what I felt was going to be a loss of life even though I still breathed.

    Thanks for the article!

    • Hi Dreamer,

      Really good to hear from you and I want to thank you for taking time to comment.

      Yes knowing that we are not alone can be a bitter sweet thing as it means that whilst we are not the only ones going through it others are alos suffering similarly to us.

      Really glad you found us and feel free to consider memberhip to our little band of bloggers.

      Kind Regards.


  5. Hi Kevin,

    Stopping by here yesterday was really my pleasure.

    I would like to join the band of bloggers as you say, if you see that my content is relevant and would be beneficial. On this blog I have so far only published 3 articles so far pertaining to mental health; however, they will increase with each passing day. Writing regarding various mental health issues geared toward personal care, children with diagnoses and caregivers is not new to me. Mental health and mental health awareness are a passion of mine. I’ve been working with it, writing for it, advocating for it for many years, and hopefully many years to come.


    • Hi Cat,

      Really good to hear from you. I am delighted you want to join our lttle band of bloggers 🙂 And to let you know that, since I already checked out your blog yesterday, I have just this minute added your blog to the list of Guild Members.

      As I said to Anita earlier, feel free to check out what we have going on, enter the current competition and avail yourself of the Membership logo (found on the Guild Members page [There is an explanation of how to use it further down that page for those who don’t know.])

      And of course if you have any questions just let me know.

      Great to have you as a member.

      Kind Regards


  6. Hi Kevin,

    Thank you very much. I look forward to participating with everyone here. 🙂


  7. Hi,
    With regards to the question in the original post, I would have to say there are benefits to my mental health issues beyond the hypomanic episodes. The biggest one for me would have to be the level of self-reflection that 20+ years of struggle have forced upon me. Most of my peers have never faced death the way I have, and have never really contemplated their mortality, or the meaning of their lives in the way that most of my friends with mental health issues have. I know myself better than most, because I have had to go over all the things that are important to me, and throw out all the superfluous stuff I thought was important but was just weighing me down.

    If the unexamined life is not worth living, then people who have struggled with mental health have lives that are especially worth living because we have to examine ourselves daily. Not paying attention to who you are, how you are feeling and what is important to you that day can be dangerous. When you lose your insight you can very easily slip into illness (or at least I can). There is a degree of vigilance involved in recovery and maintaining recovery that the general population never really has to deal with. I think many of them know themselves less, and are poorer for it.

    I have often been asked if there was a magic pill to erase Bipolar Disorder would I take it? I have to say I would not. I have had this illness my whole life and I would not be me without it. There are certainly parts I could do without though!

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