Diagnosis – Nancy

What does it mean to have a diagnosis of Bipolar I or II?  For some, finally getting a diagnosis can be a relief, as it was for Demi Lovato, whose story was shared in Moodsurfing a few weeks ago.  For others, not so much.  Mariah Carey was diagnosed with bipolar back in 2011, but she says “I didn’t want to believe it”.  Only after several more years of denial did she seek out proper treatment options.

Surprisingly, even today, getting an accurate diagnosis can be a long-drawn out and difficult process.  Especially for Bipolar II (“two”), and the milder form called “cyclothymia” the diagnostic elements may not be clear to many practitioners.  Some people have to persist in the medical system for quite a while before they begin to find answers.   It is important to understand the similarities and differences between these conditions.  Both may be characterized by intermittent periods of hypomania, or moderate mania. For example one of the symptoms that may appear during these periods is called “grandiosity” in which someone with bipolar II may show a completely unrealistic view of their abilities to complete goals or projects.  Someone with the milder form, cyclothymia, may have a heightened optimism about their abilities, beyond what is reasonable.  For more detail about differentiating between different forms of bipolar, see our post on “What is a manic episode”.

Once you have a satisfactory diagnosis, you still have a long learning curve ahead.  For many, if not most people, getting a mental illness diagnosis is an emotionally turbulent event.  Dealing with the emotional and mood effects may take up energy and prevent you from focusing on learning about the meaning of the diagnosis and the treatment plan you need to make.  Take time to process the thoughts and feelings  that come up and realize that managing symptoms such as those of bipolar I or II can be a challenge.  You will need to gain knowledge and skills to move forward, and that’s exactly the purpose of this blog.  Moodsurfing looks at lifestyle modifications and other non-medicinal interventions that can help you maintain stability and move on with your life.

In addition to the blog, we are excited to be able to give you a sneak preview of the new Bipolar Disorder Workbook authored by our own Dr. Peter Forster and Gina Gregory.  It will be available beginning October 9, 2018.  Check it out on Amazon!