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There’s literally being on top of the world, and there’s figuratively being there. The same thing can be said for being at the very bottom of it, and when we think about the literal locations of those places it’s pretty safe to say getting to the top of Mt. Everest or to the bottom of the Marianas Trench is the farthest thing from easy or safe. When we look at those terms figuratively, it’s almost always in reference to a person’s state of mind or mood.
The difference for people with bipolar II disorder is that they don’t choose to be on the top of the world one moment, and then back down at the very depths. For people with bipolar disorder, this cycle repeats itself without mercy. It’s not something that’s easy to comprehend for a person in good mental health, but it’s important to be understanding of bipolar II disorder.
After all, it’s easy to respect the determination of someone who has scaled Everest and come back from the top alive (many climbers who perish on the mountain do so on their descent down).
Despite this, it makes a lot of sense to have a high regard for people suffering from Bipolar II disorder. Their ability to ‘keep it together’ in the face of such massive mental instability is quite remarkable. It’s unfortunate that society is less receptive to bipolar disorder than clinical depression, simply because people with bipolar don’t always appear to be down.
The person with Bipolar 2 disorder also experiences the other polar mood extreme – being overly happy, exuberant, and full of positivity after being so down and dejected previously. People who aren’t familiar with it make the assumption that things ‘can’t be so bad’ if they’re so upbeat, even for a short time.
But perhaps we should start at the beginning and define Bipolar 2 disorder more clearly. It involves the individual being a pattern where they have depressive (down) episodes followed by hypomanic (up) episodes. It is different from Bipolar I disorder in that Bipolar I sufferers have more ‘full-blown’ stages with down or up episodes. In fact, manic episodes last at least 7 days and then depressive ones going for a minimum of two weeks and often longer.
Unfortunately, being bipolar means you have moods that are NEVER ordinary or balanced. One of the common symptoms of manic episodes of Bipolar II disorder is increased activity levels, and seemingly never becoming fatigued.
If we shift our focus again back to the top of the world between the countries of Nepal and Tibet, it’s likely fair to say this excess energy and decreased likelihood of being tired might be very advantageous for someone climbing Mt. Everest. After all, it’s 29,035 feet to the top, and us humans are at risk of serious health complications or death from about 19,000 feet onwards. And most climbers will be spending about 6 weeks making the climb.
Being more open to engaging in risk activities is also a characteristic of someone having a manic episode as part of Bipolar II disorder. Goes without saying doesn’t it? There are 300 people known to have died trying to climb Everest, and the consensus is that if you give it a try you have about a one in 100 chance of meeting a similar fate.
With a subheading like that, you’d likely assume that we’re going to start talking about a man named Victor who has Bipolar II disorder. Not the case. Victor Vescovo is a retired naval officer from the Great State of Texas who recently travelled to the deepest part of the ocean in a submarine. As far as we know he’s of sound mental health, and his accomplishment qualified as the deepest dive ever made by a human inside a submarine.
The same way it’s nearly 30,000 feet up to the top of the world, it’s nearly 11,000 feet to the bottom of it. One of the symptoms that may be experienced during a Bipolar 2 disorder sufferer’s depressive episodes is feeling excessive sadness, hopelessness, and worry.
Now again, as far we know Vescovo isn’t one of those people with the condition, but surely we can understand if he felt similarly despondent when he found trash on the bottom at the deepest spot on the planet’s oceans. There’s enough going on the world to make even the most perennially-positive person falter, and surely it’s so much worse when you’re a rudderless ship when it comes to controlling your mood when you have Bipolar II disorder.
There are an estimated 100 million tonnes of trash floating in the ocean nowadays apparently. That’s incredibly sad no matter what your mental state is.
Carbolith is the pharmaceutical brand-name for Lithium Carbonate, and lithium has been used for the treatment of the manic episodes of Bipolar II disorder for decades now. One thing important to remember if your physician prescribes it for you is that it usually takes about three weeks on the medication to start seeing its effectiveness.
Seroquel (Quetiapine) and Abilify (Aripiprazole) are other good choices for achieving relief from the severity of Bipolar II disorder symptoms, and Abilify in particular is arguably the most well-known bipolar treatment medication on the market today. Indeed, we’re fortunate to live in an age where pharmaceuticals are as effective as they are in relieving poor health conditions.