Bipolar 2 Disorder – Who needs psychosis when you have depression?

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.

4 thoughts on “Bipolar 2 Disorder – Who needs psychosis when you have depression?”

  1. I have Bipolar Disorder. My symptoms are quite like your friends. My current obcession is the stock market. I took around $500.00 and turned it in to 2.48 million for about 10 minutes. I ended up with about $500 when I was done. I have since dumped thousands of dollars in to the market trying to catch the wave again.  Bipolar disorder can be a wild awesome ride but the lows are bad. I have been in the hospital 11 times and I tried suicide a couple times. Once I was in a coma for 2 1/2 weeks.

    I don't like to say that I suffer from Bipolar Disorder. I think of it as a great gift. There are often times when it is really easy to think about killing myself. I haven't been in the hospital since I stopped taking the meds. I still take antidepressants but the medication for bipolar disorder is worse than the illness. 

    Over time, with a lot of self study and accepting that you are ok, and not some freak, you can learn ways to handle this illness. I think the best medication for it is sleep. I force myself to take naps if I feel tired at all. I take a sleeping pill. That has helped greatly. The worst part is that going without sleep for 6 or 7 days litterally drives you crazy. Getting rest and knowing the signs that you are manic can really change your life.

    Take Care. I hope your friend is ok.

    1. Sounds like you're taking the bull by the horns.

      i totally agree with what you said about sleep and knowing the symptoms. Can't be emphasises more.

      Anyone would flip out without 4 nights sleep.

  2. Thanks a lot. Your site is making me feel a little better about my very recent diagnosis. I started crying because I was so relieved to read you had a job and a family and thought for the first time that I could too. I have bipolar 2, and my hypomianic episodes quickly alternate from being awesome to being so mean and irritable. I used to ruin everything. I'm really working not to now, and I think I can do it.

    I'm really glad I found your site, it helps to read something positive about this. And I know I'm mostly anonymous posting on here, but it's still hard to type the words, especially since I really haven't said them outloud yet: I have bipolar disorder. That label really stings right now; I'm trying to think of myself as the same person I was 3 minutes before hearing that, and that the word doesn't change who I am, but it's kind of hard. 

    1. Amy, it sounds like you’re going to be fine. You say “I have bi-polar disorder,” and the “label stings.” You are not the illness, and you are the same person. But now you are equipped with knowledge and the power to manage and cope with your symptoms. There are lots of mood stabilizers out there to help with Bipolar II, lithium still the best for most people, just don’t crave the lovely hypomania… at least if you want to have a steady job or relationship. It’s not worth the down side!  Be blessed!

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