Further thoughts on Bipolar Disorder: When Erratic Energy meets Despair

This is where it gets dicey.  If you are familiar with bipolar disorder, you have probably heard the term ‘mixed states.’ You probably also know that suicide is attempted more often when the sufferer is considered ‘agitated.’

In terms of energy, the state of ‘mixed state’ can best be described ( in my view) as rapidly changing and erratic.  Think of problems with the power lines when the lights flicker or glow brighter than usual, power surges cause appliances and electronics to pop and trip breakers, and computers don’t know what to do and often shut down.

If you are attempting to monitor your energy, in conjunction with circumstances, it is nearly impossible to gauge.  At times like that, the state of your circumstances governs what you should do.  For example, if circumstances are okay, walking or meditation may be helpful to even out the energy.  Avoiding problematic situations (shopping, conversations which can go awry, or dealing with potentially stressful issues) is probably a good idea.

If circumstances suck, the combination of that with erratic energy can be dangerous.  Psychiatrists use the term “agitation” to describe the feelings of confusion, despair, hopelessness and panic…and all kinds of red flags fly up. Inappropriate outbursts at just about any frustration are likely.  Poor concentration and the inability to put things in perspective can lead to suicidal thoughts.

It is my suggestion to first ‘table’ all concern for the circumstances, if possible.  My table of choice is at the feet of Jesus.  Then get thoughts about the circumstances out of your head.  Write them down if you feel the need to keep track of the details but do what you must to quiet your mind.

Then, address the energy.  If it is intense, find a way to release some.  I listen to music that makes me cry…and I usually listen to it really really loud.  The first audition of Charlotte and Jonathan singing “My Prayer,” does it for me; or Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” (The premier performance by Arturo Toscanini, if you can find it); or “Bring Him Home” (Colm Wilkinson or Alfie Boe); Nessun Dorma (Pavarotti or, a personal favorite, Alfie Boe “warbles a bit”).  I even cry when listening to “NASA’s Orion Space Launch set to Interstellar Soundtrack (the 1st one listed)”

But, I digress.  The idea is to expel some energy in a safe and healthy way…and I think crying is healthy.

Before picking the circumstances back up, if you must, you should assess your energy.  If your energy is too low to deal with the issues, and if they can wait, let them wait.  Napping is good.

If circumstances are dire, you need to establish a safe situation for yourself.  Call someone who has experience with such matters.  Let someone, someone who will respond with compassion and strength, know what you are going through. Do not go through it alone.  Being aware of His presence will help, but if your thinking is distorted, your perception of His voice may be, too.

If you do not feel safe, take yourself to the hospital; let someone else do the thinking for a while.  You need to build up your strength so you can see things clearly again, so you can accurately assess your energy and your options and make good choices.

Jesus is there; help is available; you are not alone.  I know what of I speak.

One thought on “Further thoughts on Bipolar Disorder: When Erratic Energy meets Despair

  1. “My table of choice is at the feet of Jesus.” Yes, me too.

    I can identify with your description of energy swings; it makes sense.

    I was diagnosed with bpII about 15 years ago; I’m 65. Thankfully, I’ve found two medications that have stabilized me and, frankly, saved my life. Along with my faith (I found Jesus ten years ago), I now maintain and function on an even keel. And I know when I begin to tip either way, I rely on the Lord to set me back at center.

    Thank you for being so courageous.


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