Am I Bipolar? Here’s How To Find Out

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With the popularisation of psychology throughout the latter half of the 20th century, many diagnostic fads have come and gone. ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, and, now, bipolar disorder, have become fashionable self-diagnoses for people who want a medical explanation for why they are so troubled and yet so special and smart.

Suddenly, if you are bored by books or long lectures, it is because you have ADHD; if you make a fool of yourself socially, it is because you have Asperger’s, and are more comfortable with ideas than people (who isn’t?); and, if your moods have any seemingly irrational fluctuations, it is because you are a bipolar manic-depressive.

After falsely diagnosing themselves with manic-depression in this haphazard fashion, many people then decide that, because of their supposed disorder, they are better suited to the creative professions. These do not require consistency or personal accountability, these people unconsciously think to themselves.

In reality, bipolar disorder is, perhaps, correlated with creativity, but certainly not the cause of it. As any good historian knows, correlation does equal causation. Moreover, true bipolar manic-depression is as different from ordinary mood swings as a raging inferno that consumes entire tenement blocks differs from the controlled fire of a gas-powered range. In both cases, the same element is involved (mood-altering chemical reactions in the brain, in the one case; fire in the other). However, in both cases, that same element manifests on a vastly different scale with vastly different results.

To determine if you truly have bipolar disorder, ask yourself the following questions:

* Do I experience weeks where I literally feel like I can do no wrong, whatever happens to me?
* Do I have weeks where my libido rises to outrageous levels, especially as compared to my ordinary patterns of behaviour?
* Do I have weeks where I appear to get by on a few hours of sleep a night, like Napoleon?
* During these times, do I seem to have boundless energy?
* Do I, at the same time, have a limited ability to apply myself to any one task over long periods of time?
* Do I feel restless and out-of-control for weeks on end?
* Do my periods of restless and intense activity alternate with periods of the blackest depression?
* Do I feel suicidal for weeks, only to burst into enthusiastic action after a certain amount of time has passed?

If you answered “yes” to either of the last two questions, as well as to several of the first six questions, you may, indeed be suffering from bipolar disorder, with its alternating phases of mania and depression. If this is the case, find a psychotherapist you trust and set up an appointment post-haste.

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