What’s a bipolar episode? Major warning


Before I head out the door for the day, I wanted
to tell you something. I have a major warning as well.
Read on.

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
an episode.

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,
and/or alcohol.

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.

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
same episode.


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.




Your Friend,


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.

  1. David,
    You forgot about the violence in an episode my husband would become very violent. They didn’t diagnose that he was bipolar until he tried to hang himself and we went though 2 months of hospitalization before we got the answers. That was 3 years ago now they started him on a very old drug it was the only one to work for him “Lithium” we never go with out it.

  2. Dave
    Im 15 and i am the one suffering from bipolar dissorders. It becoming very hard at school to hide my episodes. I tend to turn extremely violent towards other people but specially all the violence goes to myself, my parents dont know about this, i need help, thank you

  3. David,
    I would like to tell anyone who may have doubts about this illness to please e-mail me at jesusfreak69101@yahoo.com. Let me tell you the horror story that has been my life dealing with this dis-order.
    I have gotten your information and e-mails now for a couple of years and I truly appreciate the understanding you have on this subject. I too have had to live with this all my life.
    The only surviving sibling out of three. Watching my children, nieces, nepehws and cousins try to live their lives with or without help. And still there is denial in my parents and family??
    I am only still on this earth because of my deep faith and people like you who give me hope.
    Thank you for all you do. I hope to be of help too.

  4. David,
    i have been dealing with the depression side of this disorder for a very long time. I have been on many meds and still seem to only get mild relief. Im highly functional but struggle most days to get out of bed. I would like some info on other treatments anybody may know of. Thanks!

  5. David,
    You may have previously posted suggestions as how to divert a bipolar episode in your material. I am new to the program and uncertain how to best utilize your info. please let me know about the above information on diversion as well as an outline on step by step ways to best utilize the program. thanks (chandler@bayou.com)

  6. I am tying to get a straight answer to a very important question.
    Just because a person has been treated for depression for 10 years, but only gets a diagonisis of bipolar within the last few months, is that considered a pre-existing condition?

  7. David,
    I am concern about this. When I was researching about Bipolar, it was all because my ex-husband is getting married in couple of weeks to someone who has Bipolar (where we only been divorced for not even two months). Let alone I do not know how long she has had this disorder and I am not really sure what to know about her other than she has it. My ex and I really do not talk to one another and we have an autistic son together. MY CONCERN is…should a person with bipolar and an autistic child be together alone under the same roof or even the same room? This my MAIN concern for I am afraid of my son’s well being if they were ever to be alone together. Considering of what I have read so far about bipolar, I believe by my understanding that they should never be alone. I do not know how she is with my son and I do not know how my son is with her. Could you or anyone out there help provide any answers for me? PLEASE!
    Thank you,

  8. Very good brief summary regarding the phases of depression and mania with regards to bipolar disorder. I think one of the key things is to teach people how to recognize the symptoms when they begin to appear. I tend to be a rapid cycling Bipolar …..however, I refuse to take the appropriate action neccesary when manic, because it is so much better than the depression. Except if I have a lot of agitation. At these times, I tend not to be as honest with my doctor and therapist, because I like the high. I guess, this is part of the illness I still do not completely have a handle on. If I can help anyone please email me at smrrniki@aol.com, I have been suffering and dealing with bipolar disorder, OCD, agoraphobia, panic/anxiety, disorder, PTSD, eating disorders, alcoholism (sober 20 1/2 years) since about age 6…I have endured all the various courses the illness can possibly take….including most medications used to treat same.

  9. David,
    Thanks. I never knew this info about the episodes. This explains why my daughter acts the way she does at times.
    I would also add that she has become violent many times and threatened my life as well as her own.

  10. I was hoping if someone could tell me if they think a person with Bipolar and an autistic child should be together? I have been getting different answers, where if the person that has Bipolar should never be alone, because you never know when they will have an episode and do something to the child. Especially if the child can not run and tell someone what has happen to them.
    Then there is an answer if the person stays on their medication every day and never misses, then things would be ok. Can anyone tell me which is true. I have been doing research left and right to see if anything will help me,but the more research I am doing the more I feel confuse and wonder if my autistic child should be around this Bipolar person that my ex is getting married to. Could anyone please help me out there!?
    Thank you,

  11. i thank you for this site, i have a 10 yr. old that is quite violent in the past 5-6 months, very bullish,she makes our home a living hell. her sisters are scared of her, i cannot find any help for her, our ins. won’t cover, neither will her ssi/medicaid, is there any help for people like us, her dr. says she could very well be like the boy that done the V.T. killings
    i need help now, not when it’s too late

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