Sunday, May 7, 2017

Living With Mental Illness in America: Bi-Polar Disorder

"Imagine that you are on the fastest roller coaster you have ever encountered. You are blasting around turns at amazing speeds. Further, imagine that it is also taking you to the highest and deepest points you could have ever imagined. Now, imagine that the roller coaster is in your mind, and it won't shut off." - Kent Allen Halliburton

"When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder the year I turned 50, it was certainly a shock. But as a journalist, knowing a little bit about a lot of things, I didn't suffer the misconception that depression was all in my head or a mark of poor character. I knew it was a disease, and, like all diseases, was treatable." - Jane Pauley

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that causes periods of depression and periods of elevated mood. The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania, depending on its severity, or whether symptoms of psychosis are present. During mania, an individual behaves or feels abnormally energetic, happy, or irritable. Individuals often make poorly thought out decisions with little regard to the consequences. The need for sleep is usually reduced during manic phases. During periods of depression, there may be crying, a negative outlook on life, and poor eye contact with others. The risk of suicide among those with the illness is high at greater than six percent over twenty years, while self-harm occurs thirty to forty percent. Other mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and substance use disorder are commonly associated with Bi-Polar Disorder.

The causes are not clearly understood; however both environmental and genetic factors are though to play a role. For many, genetic factors of may contribute to the disorder's manifestation. Environmental factors include a history of childhood abuse and long-term stress. The condition is divided into Bi-Polar I and Bi-Polar II. If there has been at least one manic episode, with or without depressive episodes, it will be classified as Bi-Polar I. It will be classified as Bi-Polar II if there has been at least one hypomanic episode and one major depressive episode. In those cases with less severe symptoms of a prolonged duration, the condition Cyclothymic Disorder may be diagnosed. If the condition is induced by drug use or physical medical problems, such as poor diet, the condition may be classified separately. Other conditions that may present in a similar manner include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Disassociative Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Substance Abuse Disorder as well as a number of physical medical conditions. Medical testing is not required for a diagnosis, though blood tests or medical imaging can be done to rule out other problems.

Treatment commonly includes psychotherapy, as well as medications, such as Mood Stabilizers and Anti-Psychotics. Examples of mood stabilizers that are commonly used include lithium and various other Anti-Convulsants. Treatment in a hospital without the individual's consent may be required if a person is at risk to themselves or others but refuses treatment. Severe behavioral problems may be managed with short term Anti-Psychotics or Benzodiazepines. In periods of mania it is recommended that Ant-Depressants be stopped. If Anti-Depressants are used for periods of depression they should be used with a mood stabilizer. Electroconvulsive therapy, while not very well studied, may be helpful for those who do not respond to other treatments. If treatments are stopped, it is recommended that this be done slowly. Many individuals have financial, social or work-related problems due to the illness. These difficulties occur a quarter to a third of the time on average. The risk of death from natural causes such as heart disease is twice that of the general population. This is due to poor lifestyle choices made in various to self medicate the condition.

About three percent of people in the United States are estimated to have had Bi-Polar Disorder, or associated symptoms, at some point in their life. Lower rates of around one percent are found in other countries. The most common age at which symptoms begin is twenty-five. Rates appear to be similar in females and males. The economic costs of the disorder was estimated at $45 billion for the United States in 1991. This cost has since risen to an average of $52 billion a year. A large proportion of this was related to a higher number of missed work days, estimated at fifty per year. People with Bi-Polar Disorder also often face problems with the social stigma associated with the disorder, which tends tends to make dealing with disorder all that much more difficult.

"Most of the time, it feels like there are two different people in my head, and while each one is vying for total control, there is a blank canvas in the middle that is getting paint randomly strewn about on it. The struggle, of course, like an abstract painting, is to make something unique out of the chaos. The battle that then ensues is not for the faint of heart." - Kent Allen Halliburton


  1. I use to work in the mental health care system. Its a sad world we live in. The place i worked in the resents received just the basic care. Out of their checks only 30 dollars remained of their money. The facility basicly charged them their entire check. I seen abuses. When you report the abuse to the chain of command when state comes in to investigate. The facility shreds paper work. Then creates new paper work that is back dated. They cover up real well. Then the facility attacks the person who made the report. They do it in such away that the person can not prove it. When a resident has a valid complaint. The staff protrays the commplaint as invalided. Due to their illness. The resident needs are not met nor cared about. We are told out loud to care. But behind the door we are told not to care about the residents. Always act like you care but dont really care. Mentally ill are taken advantage of. The care providers such as nurses cna have no real education in mental health. They treat the mentally ill as faking everything. They are attention seeking. The mentally ill really have no rights. Its sad. I have no formal education in mental health. However i research as much as i can. And give them compassion. There is so many health care issues in the USA. I have seen the ugly side of mental health care. Also i have seen the over medicated zombie effect. Where the residents walk like zombies and drool. They are over medicated and its chopped up to their symptoms of anti psychotic drugs. My opinion it may be both the cause for tremors. To elevate the tremors. They are put on drugs for Parkinson's. When a resident gets a good med combo and it works. The state says its no longer covering thise drugs. However here are the new drugs we approve. It is terrible. The world is a ugly place. I hope as people we start looking at ourselves and making changes. So we can start changing all these problems. In the facility i use to work for a young man hung himself with a cable cord. Another wrapped his face in plastic. The facility was never held accoubtable. Someone who was on head count special observation did not due their job. It was all covered up.

    1. Combined with the the negative social stigmas placed on mental illness, I can imagine that this is just yet another reason why it has taken so long for mental illness to be taken seriously in the United States.