If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
When we are living with addiction, we are often also struggling with mental health issues, what are often called co-occurring disorders that function alongside our addiction and compound them. Very often our issues are overlapping, and the unhealed traumas and unresolved fears that have manifested as addiction also present themselves as mental health issues. Depression is one of the most common mental health issues we experience, and of the various types of depression, bipolar depression is one of the most potentially damaging and dangerous. The term “bipolar” has come to be used as a catch-all phrase for anyone who experiences mood swings or changes in their emotions or behaviors. We jokingly will call ourselves bipolar or say that our response to something was bipolar if we were abnormally reactive, unusually triggered or had a heightened stress response to something. Bipolar depression, however, is a serious form of depression that can cause tremendous pain and suffering in our lives.
Bipolar depression consists of different emotional poles that we can swing between. What feel like mood swings or heightened emotional responses can last for months or even years. We can go from feeling like we’re on top of the world, like we’re invincible and like nothing can stop us from accomplishing anything we set our minds to. We feel excited and optimistic. While these seem like positive emotions, they can also be accompanied by reckless and dangerous behaviors. We put ourselves in harm’s way and self-destruct in various ways. We might drive drunk or have casual sex with multiple partners. We my steal or start spending money extravagantly, causing ourselves financial repercussions and other difficult life consequences. We may be increasingly hostile, angry, impatient and even unkind. Our volatility can make us intimidating to the people around us, and our relationships can be damaged as a result. We can find ourselves estranged from our loved ones because of these manic episodes. We can feel like we’re out of control mentally, emotionally and physically. We can find it even harder to resist our addictive urges and temptation, and we can compulsively start turning to our addictions even more.
The other emotional pole of bipolar depression is similar to the what we commonly associate with depression – the sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and feelings of despair. Whereas a manic episode may increase our desire to be social and interact with people, a depressive phase can cause us to isolate, separate ourselves from other people and distance ourselves from them altogether. Experiencing this emotional pendulum between manic and depressive episodes can cause serious damage to our mental and emotional health and our lives as a whole. Treating our addiction and our mental health issues means finding clarity on exactly what we are experiencing, what symptoms we’re having and how our pain is manifesting itself in our lives.
Bayview Recovery’s addiction treatment programs include focusing on co-occurring disorders such as depression, to help you heal profoundly and holistically. Call 888-570-7154 for more information.