Your therapist has told you that you have a "mood disorder" called bipolar. It sounds so serious and frankly, you don't think you have a problem at all, except that you don't like feeling depressed. Other people have a problem with how much fun you have.
They keep interfering with your harmless drinking or smoking pot, driving "recklessly," staying up all night. What's wrong with that? There's too much fun to be had. They complain that you talk too much, too fast. What on earth is wrong with that? You have great ideas that have to be expressed.
And why should you go to class or work? You know more than everyone there. What a waste of your time!
Then, you get depressed. Really depressed. You need to sleep a lot, you cry or wish you could, you may withdraw from friends and family. You see no purpose in living this miserable life with these intrusive people. Your family expresses concern, but they just don't understand. Some tell you to snap out of it, get to work. Others tell you to see a therapist. They really don't get it. They have no idea how bad it feels to have no control over it. And frankly, the next round of hyper activity or "manic" behaviors are a relief from the awful depression. See SYMPTOMS of depression.
This is a mood disorder. It is not a failure of character or will. It is not a moral lapse. Scientific research on biological causes has focused on the neurotransmitter system. Drugs that affect these transmitters also relieve the symptoms of bipolar depression. It has a strong heritability factor. Most likely one or several of your family members have suffered with depression (whether or not they talk about it).
Yet, if you are like most people who are first diagnosed with bipolar depression, you will avoid any discussion of treatment. Perhaps you feel that you can handle it yourself. Perhaps you are ashamed that you have so little control over your emotions and behaviors. Perhaps you feel vulnerable when you want to feel invincible. Perhaps you don't want to give up the super-productivity and on-top-of -the world feeling of your highs.
Bipolar disorder tends to worsen over time. Those who go without treatment have both depressive and manic behaviors that cycle more rapidly and cause greater distress socially, scholastically or in work, and personally. The younger the symptoms appear, the more critical it is to find the right treatment with a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist...both. Neither medication nor psychotherapy alone will be sufficient. Bipolar disorder requires lifelong treatment. It will not simply go away if you ignore it or wish it away.
Your psychotherapist can help you recognize the onset of symptoms signaling a relapse so that you can get treatment before a full-blown episode occurs. She can also help you change negative and self-destructive thoughts and behaviors.
She can help you re-establish the relationships with family and friends you may have alienated with your mood swings.
Bi-polar disorder can be treated. Don't put it off, call for help.
Marilyn Miller, MS, LPC ~ Psychotherapist
...Delighting every day in helping people find peace in their lives, relieving anxiety, depression, and promoting self-care.