Before I head out the door for the day, I wanted
to tell you something. I have a major warning as well.
First I just was talking to Michele Soloway
who writes for me and has bipolar disorder and
a few other illnesses. She is high functioning
and does VERY, VERY well.
Anyway, we were talking about how we really
need to make sure that we always keep going over
the basics of bipolar disorder. That got me
to thinking about something. I have gotten
a ton of emails about people asking, what’s
At first I was thinking that everyone should
know that but I never knew what an episode was
after being around my mom for 29 years. We use
to call it “mom’s sick.” So, let’s talk about
what an episode is.
What is a bipolar episode?
Bipolar Disorder is marked by extreme mood swings.
There are times when a person with Bipolar Disorder
enters a depressive mood (extreme sadness), and
other times when they experience mania (extreme euphoria).
These are called bipolar episodes. Contrary to what some
people believe, a person with the disorder does not
continually go back and forth between these two
extremes. In between episodes, the person can go
months (or even years) with normal moods.
My mom’s episodes tend to be manic BUT for many
years when I was a kid she was depressed. I remember
my mom being in the bed for YEARS. I think from like
age 10 through maybe 13, my mom was always in the
bed in a dark house.
It made it strange for me because I thought that was
normal until one day a friend said, “where’s your mom?”
I explained she was always in bed and he said that
wasn’t normal. It was at that point I knew something
was wrong because all my other friends had mom’s that
weren’t in bed all day.
Anyway, next question…..
What Happens During an Episode?
Manic Episodes: Symptoms build up over time
with initial symptoms being mild. It generally
starts off slowly but starts getting worse.
When the episode ends, the person will either
enter a depressive episode or will return to their
normal mood. The main symptom of a manic episode
is seriously impaired judgment. Symptoms include:
less sleep, rapid speech, overspending, and risky
behavior involving sex, gambling, eating, drugs,
In my mom’s manic episodes, she spent a TON and I mean
a TON of money. I have never calculated the total loss
but it’s way more than $500,000 that’s for sure.
Depressive Episodes: Many times, the person might
enter a depressive episode immediately after coming
out of a manic episode. Other times, they might go from
a normal mood to a depressive episode. Depressive
episodes are usually marked by feelings of hopelessness
– sometimes even thoughts of death or suicide. CALL
911 or the doctor if your loved one is suicidal.
TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.
Symptoms also include withdrawal from family and friends and not participating in activities that the person used to enjoy.
Mixed Episodes: In some cases, the person might
actually have episodes that include symptoms of both
mania and depression. These can be more difficult to
deal with because they are having some of the manic
feelings and some of the depressive feelings in the
HERE’S THE BIGGEST SECRET I HAVE LEARNED. This is
one worth a ton to you.
You have to develop a system to PREVENT episodes
and you have to develop a system of what to do
if/when an episode occurs.
You can’t say “let’s just hope one doesn’t occur.”
You can’t just leave it all in the hands of a doctor.
EVERYONE needs to be involved and on the same page
with the same plan.
This is what our family NEVER did. As a result
it created DECADES of problems.
Most people simply don’t plan and prepare, this is
both the supporter and person with the disorder.
For some reason, NOT planning is what people do
when they should be planning and preparing.
My mom started to go into an episode in the last
two months. It got rather bad. In the old days,
her episode would have lasted probably a year
and have done serious financial and emotional
damage to everyone around her.
BUT with proper planning we caught the episode,
and damage was minimal now she is back on
track. Without a system people are DOOMED.
Take a look at what I have, but I am not
pushing my material on you. You can do what
I did, go interview doctors, read all the books,
go to many conferences, meetings, workshops,
talk to therapists, meeting people with bipolar
disorder who are high functioning and make your
own system. One person told me on my list she did
just that because she had plenty of time.
Just do something right away.
SUPPORTING AN ADULT?
SUPPORTING A CHILD/TEEN?
HAVE BIPOLAR DISORDER?
P.S. Check out my F.ree blog with copies of emails
that I have sent in the past and lots of great
information for you:
P.P.S Check out my F.ree podcast. Hear me give
mini seminars designed to teach you information
you can’t learn anywhere else.