Bipolar 2 Disorder – Do you think it’s a walk in the park?
The only real difference between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2 disorder is that with Bipolar disorder 2 you don’t get the same intensity of mania as with Bipolar 1. No psychosis, no hallucinations. You don’t lose touch with reality or start to see things, or have crazy delusions. You don’ lose control.
Someone with Bipolar 2 disorder will only have what’s called hypomania, where you do have the bipolar “high.” Hyperactivity, lots of energy, lack of sleep, goal oriented. They can be outgoing, the life of the party – often hypersexual. Nonetheless, people with hypomania can function normally – they function just great! (Sometimes a person with hypomania is very irritable, though.) I guess “Normal” means not doing anything too weird, or too illegal.
Some people with Bipolar 1 will get hypomania too – besides full manic episodes. Lucky them! I wish I was all super functioning like that – my manic episodes quickly moved to insanity. People with cyclothemia get hypomanic episodes as well. (See the page on cyclothemia.)
The Dark Side of Bipolar 2 Disorder
However, just like in Bipolar I, with Bipolar disorder type II deep, dark depression lurks. An episode of hypomania can go on for months… Maybe it will result in a promotion at work, and lots of cool friends. But is it worth bipolar depression? Months of hell? Pain that’s indescribable? Wishing you were dead… because you just can’t imagine the thought of another day like this?
You’d think it isn’t worth it… but when you are taking bipolar medication and you feel oh so normal and average, you start to think – “This is so boring. Maybe I’m just fine… maybe I can handle the next episode of hypomania– I’ll ride it out.” Bad idea! Don’t ruin your life! Don’t do it to your family!
Bipolar II Disorder Friend
I think I might have a friend with Bipolar 2 disorder, though it might just be cyclothemia. He’ll suddenly get into these high energy moods, where he’ll become obsessed with one particular topic or goal. When it’s a topic he’ll just go on and on about the same topic for hours. I’m usually willing to listen because it’s kind of interesting, and I want to have good rapport with him because I’m worried. I want to see if I can find out what’s going on and help him out.
He’ll also suddenly spend hours of time creating websites – getting little sleep at night. I was his roommate in seminary, and I already know how he could get by with little sleep for long periods while he was studying Talmud early in the morning. He would finish whole sections in short periods of time.
Once he designed what seemed to be a get-rich-quick type of scheme. He emailed everyone he knew about it… It seemed very inappropriate, a bit out of line and weird. My wife and I decided we were obligated to intervene. We didn’t know what to do – we thought to speak to his wife. In the end we told one of his trusted advisers. I hope everything is ok with him.
He does seem really down sometimes, but it could be just cyclothemia, not Bipolar 2 disorder. That would be much better for him, but I know it’s still not easy on the wife either way. (Update… turns out he had two or three of these episodes unchecked… It seems to have developed into full Bipolar 1. He had to be hospitalized for mild psychosis. He was arguing with his boss about certain divine revelations he had received, that he wasn't actually claiming to be a prophet, etc…)
Do you have any stories of Bipolar II Disorder people you know? Do you have it? Were you misdiagnosed Bipolar 2 when really you have cyclothemia? Let everyone know your story by commenting below! If you flesh it out, I'll give you your own page in the community pages section.