High-Functioning Bipolar Disorder

January 17, 2011 Natasha Tracy

I have 'high-functioning' bipolar disorder so people think I'm not mentally ill. But the ability to function in public comes at the price of private pain.

Sometimes people don’t believe I’m particularly sick. They meet me, I look fine, I interact, I charm, I wit and all seems, if not normal, at least something reasonably normal adjacent.

And that’s fine. It’s by design. Being a high-functioning mentally ill person, I can’t really afford to run around with my hair on fire. But faking normalcy, happiness and pleasure is a tricky and very expensive bit of business.

Being a “high-functioning” bipolar doesn’t really have a definition, per se. The term indicates that I’m not in a mental hospital, and I do things like live on my own, pay rent, work and whatnot. I would suggest that being “high-functioning” seems to indicate that I can fake not being a crazy person.

High-Functioning Bipolar Weekdays...

It’s really important that I be able to put my bipolar on the shelf. I have to be able to put the crazy away so that I can talk to people, engage in business, produce technical documentation, write articles and so on. I wrote about 12,000 words last week for clients. You can’t do that if you’re pondering where on your wrist the best place to slice is.

...Followed by Low-Functioning Bipolar Weekends

I have 'high-functioning' bipolar disorder so people think I'm not mentally ill. But the ability to function in public comes at the price of private pain.

The trouble is, using all my control, sanity and energy during the week to try and produce enough work to pay my rent then leaves me with a really large deficit when I’m not working. I’m crazy. Remember? Not normal? I’m just faking the normal. And faking normal requires more effort than you can possibly imagine.

So then, as soon as I’m not working, I break into a thousand pieces all over the tiles on my kitchen floor.

Sure, you go out Friday night with friends. My Friday night is usually spent fairly catatonic trying desperately not to get suicidal.

Bipolar, High-Functioning Or Low, Is Exhausting

As I see it, everyone has a similar tank of energy. We expend that energy in lots of ways. We run after kids, we go to the office, we jump out of planes. All fine uses of energy. Me, on the other hand, I spend a massive amount of energy just trying to keep my brain in one place. I have almost no energy, or brain left, outside of that.

I Give Up a Life to Survive

I do know wonderful people and I do adore them. But that doesn’t overcome the inertia of having every drop of energy sucked from me so I can pay rent. So all the appearance of my functioning is paid for by utter decimation and exhaustion the rest of the time. I don’t have energy or brain space left to read, see friends, date or do pretty much anything else. The last thing I want to do is leave the house. I want to sleep. Forever. And ever.

Bipolar Sucks the Life You Don’t See

I’m the least fun person in the world. I work. I sleep. I have a schedule. I keep that schedule. I’m tired. I make excuses not to go out. I’m sort of the lamest person ever.

But that’s the mental illness sucking the life out of my ears. I want to go out. I want to see my friends. I want to do something fun. I want to have a drink with you after work. I just can’t. I’m too tired.

So yes. I’m capable. I’m talented. I work hard. I produce stuff. Yay me. But the price I pay for that is not being able to be anything else.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2011, January 17). High-Functioning Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 19 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

September, 11 2014 at 7:45 pm

I have "high functioning" bipolar and only recently could I admit it can be seriously disabling. I have gone to university but due to a fractured work history and discrimination I have little self esteem left and I am considering a job in a sheltered workshop to make ends meet. Ninety percent of the time I have more energy then others, but I don't handle mornings well. One of the hardest parts of what I go through is people thinking I should get a job when I can't.
Today I am crashing I am too tired to do what I want to do. I feel I have to work so hard just to cope. I am tired.

September, 13 2014 at 2:11 pm

I also have been to university and have high functioning bi-polar; i do nothing more than take care of my child as a stay at home mom. I cannot manage the stress of anything else, including a normal social life or getting a job. I search job listings all the time when I am feeling good, but when I take steps to obtain the job, I am overwhelmed by the demands and unable to account for the lost years and poor work history/referrals. I am incredibly lonely and feel so inadequate. When people ask what I do, I have to say silly things like "i'm a kept woman!" or "The dog is just like a baby and so I have to be around for her!" My husband both claims I "would never be able to make it on my own if he didn't support me" and also that I "am totally lazy because I don't do enough around the house or for the family". Sometimes he is supportive, though. I cannot be friends with hardly anyone as I cannot reciprocate in the normal way of birthday lunches or helping with their kids and I cannot be friends with other depressed types because my husband does not support any relationship with "abnormal" people. I am very lonely, but obviously dependent. We make too much money for any help from public services, but my husband won't pay for therapy or doctor visits (giant deductible). I am very defeated and unable to connect with the world. Thanks for letting me post.

Free Spirit
September, 17 2014 at 11:48 am

Hi I too am very high functioning. I have bipolar and it seems the older I get the more I struggle. For the past 10 years atleast my work history is very unstable. According to others I can not keep a job and I'm a quitter. I laugh nowadays because if only they knew??? Which they do but I show no signs or I'm educated and intelligent or I lead a pretty sane normal life according to them. Or as my ex put it it's all in my head and I'm just lazy. Well he is right about its all in my head but the laziness part, far from it. That's the problem. Whether I take meds or not I tend to run k 're o the energetic, super woman, mom etc, side. And everyone loves me especially when I work. So in turn that is what is expected of me on a daily basis. So when I crash that's when I'm TOLD, what's wrong w you, you are late or not keeping up or as my last job put it, " I am unable to fullfill my job duties and either resign or I was being let go. The first during allh my years of working was I told this.Well it's about time I Said. I've asked for help I let it be known but some how it has to get to me being in a Crisis StaTe for people to hear my words only because they can see it see, I've lost 20 pounds, dark circles under eyes, etc. This is my life . And I'm burnt. I'm back w no job, no home, my boys live w there dad now. All because I'm so high functioning according to all that before I look bad or lose something , no one listens nor believes me. SOS . What part of I'm not doing so well or I'm burnt I need some help in any way,don't people understand. I even tell them how they can help. I'm detailed in my explanations and still I'm on my own w myself putting back the pieces of my puzzle. I'm not a victim nor do I have pitty parties. Well they don't last very long.So when I stay away because I feel they are doing me more harm then good,I'm considered selfish, and there is simething wrong w me. It's come to this w me, love me and support me or get out of my face.plain and simple. I figure as long as I stay true to me and can still love others and be kind open minded and compassionate than I'm as human as human can be.My apologies, I went off on a tangent. One more thing. I can not seem to get any financial assistance like sdi, or ssi or ssdi because their reasons are, I have gone to school and obtained a degree,I have a history of working since age 16 and when I saw their psychiatrist and was asked to remember sequences and who the president is , well what the hell does that have anything to do With any of this. This meaning I struggle at keeping a job due to this mental school I was always seeing a counselor and my grades were so erratic my counselor even said it makes sense and it is a symptom of bipolar .thanks to the grace of God and perserverance and my boys, is how I got my degree. And trust me myself and all involved went through he'll during that time, be caused I struggled so much. My life now, I'm 41 is lifeless . After all these years I'm finally burnt and tore up from the floor up, all because I function at a higher level than society perceives one with a mental illness should function at. And mind you this includes my family and certain friends. Thanks for letting me share and God bless.

September, 18 2014 at 10:50 am

I am also considered "high functioning" and I can relate with almost every post here. I am sitting at work right now crying. I have already broken down twice earlier today. I can barely sit at my desk and stare at my computer hoping that nobody notices. I don't want to socialize or small talk. I don't want to be here anymore. I have to work because I am a single mom and don't get any child support either. My daughter is 17, but I still try to hide my depression from her too. I'm also trying to go to school for Esthetics and would love to be able to switch over to that. I love the healing I feel when I am giving a facial or body treatment to someone in a calming atmosphere, but there is no way I can switch jobs even when I done with school for a while because I wont make enough money as an esthetician to pay my bills. I feel I'm barely hanging on and with any little thing my world will come crashing down. It is nice to know that there are others like me. I don't see anyway around my current situation but I also can't see doing this day in and day out and making it. I'm so stuck.

September, 22 2014 at 2:33 pm

What a feeling when I read this fantastic blog! I am you, only trending in the wrong direction. As a younger woman I enjoyed long periods of hypomania (shorter periods of depression) which allowed me to complete two undergraduate and two graduate degrees. I was successful at work, despite not truly enjoying the job.
I am now 56 years old and since 50, life has just seems to have become more difficult. Stress, suicidal ideation, fatigue, questioning the why (why me, why not go now, why do I stay...), spending weekends like a hermit, sitting with my dogs, playing meaningless games on my iPad, eating whatever is in the house (cooking? as if) and then returning to work on Monday, feeling exhausted and bracing myself for another week.
Sick time is gone, my attendance this past year has been spotty, and I don't know how much longer I can continue.
I'm interested in hearing from others who remember "better times" and/or those who feel their symptoms and ability to deal with life is lessening with age.
Thank you, thank you for letting me put a name to my disorder - I still deny I have B/P Disorder II. How could I have accomplished so much if I was sick? Now I know - it's not BP DO II, it's HF BP DO!
Kudos for your work challenging beliefs such as...those with B/P DO don't take their meds, they're Ca-ha-razy, and they've all done time in an acute psych facility. Okay, so I did take that one ambulance ride, but talked my way out of a 5150 (California Code for involuntary commitment)!

September, 27 2014 at 5:06 am

It is so refreshing to see that there are more people out there like me - High functioning … I never though of it that way - it is so exhausting and I don't believe the people who know that i have bipolar disorder believe it because I do put on a happy face - i am a great pretender… I think its is part of the disease. I never want my children to remember a mom who could not function due to the disease.
However - I feel like I am losing my battle lately - it is the first time that I have felt so helpless… I am tired - tired of the fight… I feel like I can't do it anymore - I just want to sleep , I just want to stay in bed… I still get up and go…. so I still have some fight in me… I am thankful to find your page and your blog so I can follow and see what others are going thru….

September, 28 2014 at 2:03 am

Hi all,
I am high functioning as well. I am desperately trying to find out what that really means, if anyone else is high functioning.
I study at the moment, and my psychology part is making me look at bipolar, its affects on human development from childhood to adulthood (not a lot of studies I am finding)so if anyone knows where to look...
I have been diagnosed for ten years now. I am medicated and saw a psychologist for many years. I don't drink or take drugs. I am now a mother, student, and wife. I do agree that being aware of "acting normal" can be tiring, but I find I can participate in all facets of society. I have "normal" friends, go on play dates, have bbqs as well as look after a house, pay a mortgage and have my family duties. I cant wait to return to work. My work history has been a bit all over the place. I guess Bipolar I will do that, but I have found the older I get (I am 35) and the more I understand the illness and myself, I am happy and content. I have a great husband who loves me and tells me I am too smart for him lol. I don't have episodes anymore. I can sometimes have a small anxiety attack or feel a little "down" but that's it and it doesn't last past a day.
I hate the stigma still attached to bipolar. Not everyone knows what I have. I guess my only real downer is trying to find others like me, and to keep reminding my poor self esteem that I can continue to achieve. My son is my world and he has made me a better person, and I find my symptoms are even less thanks to him.
Sorry I am dribbling, just the first time I have ever shared. Bec

September, 28 2014 at 2:12 am

Yes, yes, yes! I'm also high functioning (BP I, diagnosed in 2001), and I work full time as the primary bread winner for my family. When I'm euthymic or mildly hypomanic, work and school are a breeze, but any swing to the blue side means the "act as if" game starts. It's exhausting. Hiding in plain sight, hoping no one catches you out...there's a constant undercurrent of fear in every functional bipolar, I think. How long can I keep this up? Control my sleep, control my stress and control my diet on top of meds? No matter how well things are going, or how well you plan, how long before the rug is pulled out from under you again? Thank God, I have long term friends who know about best friend snuck a Reese's pieces sundae (my favorite) into the psych ward when I was hospitalized the first time. A support system is crucial. Just like controlling you sleep is a speed bump for mania, having people you can be social with when you're down can be such a relief.

October, 4 2014 at 4:19 pm

Im a high functioning bi polar person as well along with adhd.
But, it has gotten worse. Im in law school work and have a family. But all of that seems to be too much at one time. I sometimes just want to sleep all day. Am severely fatigued many times or want to cry for no reason. Bipolar disorder seems to be kicking my ass at times. How do you bounce from the crappy feeling it makes people feel????

October, 13 2014 at 3:41 pm

My psychiatrist tells me I am high functioning even though I have bipolar 1 disorder. I'm amazed that I have been able to hang on to my job for over 30 years. Before I was on medication I could process massive amounts of work. My employer was so pleased that they'd give me more work to do. That was okay with me because I was a workaholic. I'd also go on wild spending sprees during manic episodes then panic when I sunk into a depressive state because I'd be worried about how I was going to pay my bills. I'd have such a hard time staying on top of things at work, I'd worry about getting fired. I would have to double my efforts and stay late, sometimes very very very late to get my work done. It could get physically & emotionally exhausting at times & I was difficult to be around. I also struggled with an eating disorder. My work assessments were either very very good or very very bad. Since I've been on medication my life has improved drastically. I am so grateful for the help I received but my life is still far from perfect. If I don't eat right, exercise and allow enough time for proper rest I have no energy for a life outside of work. It's hard to be that disciplined all the time. It takes a lot of extra energy just to stay motivated and sometimes I just don't have it in me.

October, 14 2014 at 9:47 am

Thank you all so much for the posts! It's so encouraging that my struggle is not totally unique.
I badly want to work FT, but feel scared of again battling constant, unrealistic demands, or feeling too sensitive to handle social situations that suppose.
But I'm building my tool box to handle this disease: giving thanks, accomplishing small projects, earning income, asking for help, acknowledging bp as real and finding (or reading about) others who are successfully fighting bp, too.
May we overcome

October, 20 2014 at 10:26 am

I identify so completely with the exasperation and desperation expressed by so many here. I no longer work full-time because I averaged 18 mos-2 years for my career employment as well. It was as if my external energy only lasted that long. I have a college degree and "could" be doing so much better financially, professionaly, and socially. I am 38 and the "coulds" are what get to me the most right now.

October, 22 2014 at 8:53 am

Thank you so much for this and all your other posts. I read them all the time and they keep me grounded to the truth of the matter. Mostly people around me have no idea what I struggle with except my counselor and of course my MD. It can be very alienating. Your courage to be out there in such a public way is what I hope to have one day. Off line I am pretty out about it but not online. Point is I an glad I stumbled over your twitter feed, emails and blogs.
I even decided to go to grad school to be an MSW because I wanted to help people like me. Maybe I just wanted to help me?
My family goes on and on about how high functioning I am and how much better I have gotten. It is all I can do not to outline that I am just a helluva lot better at hiding it. Also, I have strategies for coping that I adhere to. I take meds and I make sure I sleep. I take time for myself. With these protocols in place, sometimes I still curl up on the bathroom floor when no one is home and cry. Nice to know I am not the only one. Cheers!

October, 24 2014 at 7:40 am

I note a common cry in all BP high-achievers who have written in: I'M TIRED!
I used to be known for my enthusiasm & cheerfulness (during my frequent hypomanic moods) but after 23 years of a professional career (& 2 degrees), I cannot manage more than 2-3 nights out a week and by 7 p.m. I'm longing for TV and bed with my 2 cats. (BBBC is miles better than US crap!). I do enjoy singing lessons, choir and a band, but rarely find the energy to attend concerts. My family all live abroad and travelling to see them is getting out of my comfort zone. An added stressor is that my mother has dementia and insults me when I visit her. I think BPs are less able to withstand negative remarks than "normal" people. She persistently ignored my diagnosis, which makes me less able to take hers into account...
But I still enjoy beauty and nature and friends. I have a project that is dormant for the time being: writing a memoir of my BP, creative, well-known late father. But I lack the discipline after the meds, the pre-diabetes diet, making sure I get enough sleep, housework etc. Excuses, excuses! Nathalie is a big inspiration.

October, 24 2014 at 11:14 am

Hi, What a relief to hear I am not alone, I work in mental health and been diagnosed aytypical bipolar and spent many years trying to hide and cope, and right now am really struggling with hypomania trying to break thru - I wish I could be as honest about BP as I am about my diabetes but there is still that "look" or changed responses when they find out that just kills my esteem, Thanks to all helping me feel less alone,

Nutty in NJ
October, 25 2014 at 2:48 pm

Due to family grief and on-going issues with a husband who suffers from ED, impotency, aggression, anger-management and then some, he will pick fights with me due to his problems and issues. Making a long story short, with extenuating situation, as his not wanting to cut the chord and have our 37 yr. old son and 33 yr old daughter, finally move out on their own long overdue, he continues a close knit relationship and the three are a weir symbiotic trio, all gang up and are antagonistic towards me for years now.
After one of many bouts with my husband starting an argument and it leading to domestic violence on his part, I called a crisis management team a half hour from my home. I was of course upset and crying when I spoke to a rep, as the person I had spoken to there regularly was not available. My daughter, who gets involved on my husband's behalf, as does my son, happy with their dad treating and enabling them like babies, constantly,
grabbed my cell phone out of my hand. She and my husband proceeded to go into her room, and speak to the crisis mgmt rep, giving her their false, bogus interpretation of what really occurred. My husband, due to my leaving him papers on his computer explaining my care by a nurse practitioner and clinical social worker, in anger came up to my computer, to grab it, try to break it along with part of my desk. This is when I started to cry and proceeded to call crisis mgmt. Sorry the story is a bit out of order. The end result was, crisis mgmt called the local police who suggested I go to the local hospital to talk to someone from their psych dept. I did so, but was forced at this point, through no fault of my own, to stay there for a few days for evaluation.
Upon speaking to the intake psychiatrist the next morning, he said" I see you are bi-polar", I replied by stating, I was never diagnosed with that, and would hope that he as the dr. treating me at that facility would make his own diagnosis.
I provided both him and the social worker I met with while there a few days with the phone numbers and contacts of the psych. nurse practitioner and clinical social worker I have been seeing for the last 20 months, to get their diagnosis. I did tell the doctor I was being treated for depression, due to a sad failed marriage, with a husband I am still stuck living with due to financial constraints. I believe I was misdiagnosed by this Dr. as his findings were in haste and not based on my history I gave him in great detail. I was given Tegritol for Bi-polar disorder. What it did do in the course of the 5 days I took it is, made me sleep half the day away, when awake made me nauseous, dizzy, foggy and totally out of it. I stopped taking it as the side affects were totally adverse, and there were no redeeming affects for me, as I believe as do my nurse practitioner, who speaks to a psychiatrist about my case regularly as well as my clinical social worker, that I do not have bi-polar disorder! So here I was with the only upside to my story being, I got to spend 4-5 nice, tranquil, peaceful days with people who were suffering from various mental illnesses, but whose staff and they were all kind, caring, nice compassionate and all unlike my family I am sadly relegated to stay with, until I can now save to move out on my own, as all monies went into my household. More long story there too long and dreadful to continue with. I have been out of work after losing my job 3 years ago. I did some temporary work, but have still been unable to find full time work. I had to take early social security benefits to help myself and family. My 33 year old daughter was only a pt English adjunct professor at a local college for a few years, working only 6-7 hours per week with menial salary accordingly. My son quit a good lucrative job with a top accounting firm,because after 13 yrs of college hopping and only one 4 year degree he "did not like the job" My husband, the sick sad enabler allowed him to quit, while on credit card borrowing and no money at all, he went into a business from home with my son, selling sports cards, memorabilia, records antiques etc. Sadly, with no money for continued inventory after less than 3 years this past May, the business was defunct due to lack of cash flow to put it mildly.
Needless to say, our financial situation is in complete turmoil and fiasco. Now my daughter finally got a full time lucrative job, my son, who is fussy, is waiting on the "right job" with no room for waiting due to our dire financial circumstances! My husband and"kids" take all anger etc. out on me and I am the personal punching bag for all!My car was repossessed so I do not even have the ability to keep going on job interviews as I was without any transportation, and I am not near any public transportation either. I am now trying hard to work from home on my computer, as I am limited to a pt job and pt income at best due to getting my early social security benefits this past June to help me and family all around! You can see how grateful they all are! total lack of respect, degrading demeaning, etc. to top it all off, my husband has been suffering with ed and impotency issues since March 2005 and sleeps on a couch to avoid his medical, emotional psychological issues and overdue need for HIM TO GET HELP AS BADLY NEEDED! THIS IS ALL TOO TRUE AS I COULD NOT MAKE THIS UP NOR WOULD I WASTE ANYONE'S TIME DOING SO!!I just wanted to weigh in on how I was misdiagnosed with bi-polar, sadly, and right now, do not have medical coverage and limited ability to get to needed doctors as necessary. So I am unable to get a proper diagnosis, from a dr. other then that intake dr. who sees several patients only on a transient temporary basis, without real thought to curing them on a permanent and continuing basis, but rather just doing a very temporary job with them, as my stay there and everyone else is a week at most. Now you have my tale of woe, and why not to let yourself, get diagnosed wrongfully by an uncaring, temp. Dr.

October, 30 2014 at 6:22 pm

It is sadly true It does get worse with age. Just as any physiological disease worsens with age. I have been diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar for the past 22 years. But I know I have been bipolar since I was at least 14 yrs old. I am not 56. And my husband and 2 boys used me as a punching bag. Of course. Most people take the easiest route. And here I am over here. Loonie Tunes. Just waiting for some action. So I got too much action and left. That was only due to the fact that I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, herniated discs, some kind of degenerating disc disease. etc. And you know what. I was actually one of those characters in the movies. You know, the family member who gets ill and then her "loving" family abandons her. And after I baked pies at 2 a.m. before work for them. But now they have no one to dump their toxic waste on now that I have left. It's just me and my dog and I should have split a long time ago. All the best to those who are still figuring things out.

Robinn G
October, 30 2014 at 7:39 pm

I'm high-functioning bipolar 2. I'm always depressed, to varying degrees. I love to work full time but can barely manage part time work. I've always said that whenever I work, I have 2 jobs: pretending to be normal and the job itself. I tried to go back to work full time after being on Social Security Disability for 6 years. I managed doing it for 4 years; the last 2 years were horribly difficult and when they laid me off, it was a relief. I went back to full SSDI. I have the same problem even with working 20 or fewer hours per week! I'm barely managing it but need the money for my medication, my cell phone, and a few other things. At my current job, I am now self-sabotaging, almost hoping they'll fire me because the stress is getting worse and worse.
Thanks for letting me vent! I didn't know that other people had this problem too!!

October, 31 2014 at 3:13 am

This article is spot on and the author, as well as all the commenters could be me. I worked very hard for many years and I was fried - I am fried. I am on disability now,but whoah, what a shock to have to live on less money. I can do it and will. I just can't keep up the pretense of being normal. Being around others (even my husband) sucks the life out of me. It is interesting to note how many of us are high functioning bi-polars and the best vehicle for us to connect is through this blog. Thank goodness we have the strentgh to connect through our computer and words. It eases some of the loneliness we experience. We are not lazy - we have a mental illness - though others forget, we cannot.

Erica D
October, 31 2014 at 10:28 pm

I'm truly blessed to have stumble upon this blog/ website. I'm so tired of knowing what needs to be done but can't do it because of my brain going faster than my body.. It just don't come together well and it's frustrating, it discouraging,it's horrible. No one wants to help but they love to point fingers, and put you down. Me personally think they are the sick individuals. Who are just so cruel to one another like most people now n days.. But I have to put away my anger and pray for them. And we all need to stick together also and pray for one another. Because everything happens for a reason so I say LIVE LOVE LAUGH LEARN and do ur best and all else will come together.. Love you all

Steve Hughes
November, 1 2014 at 11:31 pm

Hi, I am a 56 year male and had Bipolar since I was 25 years old. I have been in and out of Hospital half my life it seems. I have been married 4 times now and my 4th wife understand my problem. I live in the Philippines now, but from USA. I have taken every medication that I can think of. None of the medication every work, so I was given shock treatments for 1 1/2 years. It only made my memory worse. I can remember the past, but I have a hard time to remember what happen that day. When I moved to the Philippines I was married and very happy. I stop all my medication before I came here and now I exercise 5 days a week, sometime six days. It is very hard at time, but it will help and it has. I also have a pet monkey since he was 3 months old. He is 2 1/2 years old now and he has really help me when I am stress out. when I have a bad day I can just look at him and it somehow takes all the stress away for a while. I had plan to come back to the USA next year, but I am having problems with the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, GA. I use Rockie my monkey as a service animal here in the Philippines. Rockie is only cat size, he is a Long tail Macaque. If anyone has any idea, it would be nice to hear them. Rockie really help my manic problem, because when I get so angry and feel like doing something bad, I can look at him and he seem to calm me down. I don't want to look like a crazy man, but sometime I feel that way. Robin William had Bipolar & Manic and many ones. If you look at all the killing in the Schools in the USA, many of them had Bipolar & Manic. I only wish we had the same rights that blind people have. They use a dog as a service animal, so why can't one like us use a Monkey as a service animal? We all are disable and it seem like the USA Discriminate against ones like us. I am not putting the rights of a blind person down, because they need a seeing eye dog, but one like myself need a service animal that helps us calm down. Sometime it is very hard to control my Manic when out without my Monkey. If I am not allowed to go back to the USA, how will I act then. Yes, I can just stay here in the Philippines, but my parent are up in age and not in good health. I would like to return and see them one more time before they pass away, but if I did that without Rockie my monkey, it would only make my health worse. I don't believe in medication, because it has only mess me up. Thanks again for reading my letter.

November, 7 2014 at 12:52 pm

Wow reading everyone's stories really helped make me feel not alone. I really feel like this disorder have help groups because I would love nothing more than someone like me who would understand me. I have a hard time even using the phone .

November, 16 2014 at 3:55 pm

This is an absolute joke . High functioning is another word for fake bipolar or bipolar type 2. You dont have it in other words. you people are an ignorant travesty. And this author needs to be choked. Another psychiatry victim.

November, 24 2014 at 3:03 am

I'm so glad I stumbled onto your page, Natasha! I've gone to other sites and forums because I wanted someone to talk to but all of the posts were more than a year old, so why
So many of the posts on here I can relate to completely! Especially about "Feeling Nothing"..A walking talking shell of a person. Empty.
Not to write a book or anything, but I've lived a life of pure hell! Since childhood I've, been gang-raped twice. Abused at home, physically, mentally, and sexually. This didn't end until I was pregnant with my first child at age 17..I married the father..Right out of mommy and Step Daddy's house, to living with a husband. I don't know where my bipolar began, but I was obviously severely depressed growing up..
On top of trying to maintain,(even after yrs of meds)I am pretty sure I'm a Sensitive/Empath. I don't just throw those words around either because I don't want folks to think I'm a REAL NUT JOB! Lots of people brag about it..I don't, I just deal with it, but I don't know the difference between cycling or the sensitive/empath noise that I have. I take on everyone else's problems, I live with severe guilt because of the past, even though I know it wasn't my fault..I've had counseling my entire adulthood along with meds..I take them faithfully. I have all kinds of health problems...mostly heart and lungs..To put it plain and simple, I'M EXHAUSTED! Honestly, I hope to die soon..can't wait, yet I won't kill myself..Since I have children, I couldn't do that to them or anyone else in my family..Am I the only one that wants to die on a daily basis?

December, 5 2014 at 12:34 pm

I'm also high functioning bipolar but it's slipping through my fingers. My cognitive functioning is running out. I'm scared. I can't leave my job because my husband has agoraphobia and we have two kids, and is mom who also has bipolar with psychosis lives with us.
There's nowhere to turn for help. I sit at my desk and wonder how long until the smoke fades and the mirrors break and everyone sees the crazy woman who can't get any work done?

December, 7 2014 at 6:13 pm

I never thought of it as "High functioning" but I guess that's the label that makes the most sense.
I am absolutely exhausted with trying to keep up a normal existence. My partner feigns that she knows what BP is and how it works, but when the tide rises and I just can't swim any more, she is the first one to play the "I have things worse than you" card. So I am left fighting this thing on several fronts, mentally, physically and I have to fend of attacks of how I have put us into a financial position, or that I am not pulling my weight. Of course these things are never blurted right out, but they are implied blatantly.
We recently closed our small business, and I was due to start a new job 3 days ago. I went to work, and within 2 hours I was in full anxiety/ panic attack in the washroom. I had to tell the owner that I just couldn't do it.
I called my partner to explain to her the state I was in, and I was met with disappointment.
I feel as thought my family, relationship, and frankly my last shred of dignity is now finally gone too.

December, 11 2014 at 7:34 pm

I have not read every single post here, I've read kristy, jenny, free spirit, and kary's post.
I am truly sorry to hear this. I've recently been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. A question I constantly ask myself is how should I perceive it. I was diagnosed in February 2014, so it's nearly been a year since I've began medication. I've been giving it a lot of thought. Please consider this perspective. Do keep in mind that I am very young. I'm also very new at learning to live with this, so those with more experience may see the flaw in my theory and perspective. In addition, if anyone has any counter argument, please feel free to comment. The following is a bit of my theory and some experience.
I'm formulating this theory. Speaking directly to those who have been diagnosed bipolar or believe they may have bipolar disorder. There is no denying that our reactions to our environments are extreme. We learn new things, and we respond emotionally, and many of those times, our emotions do not feel as if they are fully in our control. Have you ever wondered why most people are diagnosed in their late teens, early 20's, late 20s? Hormones are still settling, we're still discovering ourselves and our place in this world, and we're observing and analyzing, to some degree, our environment. And to some other degree, we're aware of what this all means.
I don't think this is a disorder in any sense. I think we are a special group of people who have these incredible insights about the world, but haven't had the opportunity to reach full potential, considering the restrictions that are set in our lives; whether they are self propelled or externally influenced. I do believe there are other people with incredible insights who don't develop bipolar disorder. We aren't special in THAT sense. (I think) But I think there is something unique about our blend of genetics and experiences.
I dunno if anyone else feels this way,
but i'm tired of feeling people's pity, i'm tired of people looking at me as if i'm a case problem, i'm tired of people's reactions when I am in a hypomanic state.
I look at myself, and I see a beautiful intelligent human being, who just has a different cyclical pattern than the average, who may be more sensitive to their environment than those around them, and may have bursts of intense energy, unlike the average.
I don't know anyone else in my social circle, nor in my extended help circle (psychiatrist, psychologist, guidance councillor) who knows what this is like. I don't know...if seeing our an the most productive a society...
Who came up with this sentence anyway? Maybe the first few people diagnosed with this illness, weren't given a chance, really saw that this world was a fucked up place and didn't know how to respond to it, and the people who happened to diagnose them, didnt know what they were thinking, and only watched them from afar, to make the guessed opinion that whatever they were experiencing, was bad and wrong, and needed to be treated.
So far, I've learned...Medication has helped dampen the amplitude of my 'episodes'. The extremity is decreasing and with that, comes healing. It takes time. I've faced the majority of the environmental stressors. That included much crying, pillow throwing, running, deep breathing, panic attacks, singing, guitaring, cloud staring, meditation, and long solo walks. I walk away from them, knowing that they've been faced, and they are a piece of my past.
But now I'm left to consider what this is. What happened to me. Why do I feel guilty and ashamed for this? It's difficult when you feel alone in your viewpoint, no one else to talk to about this 'state of mind' we enter...
I still have so called 'manic episodes' even now that i'm medicated. They aren't as 'uncontrollable' as they used to be...but i think that's because a lot of the pain i welled up inside is...gone... and i was able to face it in a healthy way because of the..medication.
If I believe I am beautiful; If I believe that I am intelligent; If I believe that I am not ill and this is just, a really interesting lens to see that world; If I learn how to operate effectively under these 'uncontrolled' episodes; If I direct my energy in a positive and enriching way; If I learn how to treat my body with love, respect, and to care for my health; I think then, my 'disability' can be a strong ability.
I really have strong belief that there are people who operate within this state, and don't have to be on meds. I think those people, who get to think, feel, and make decisions that have powerful impact, feel this sense of fulfillemt. I think it's possible to live with this disorder and be highly functioning. It takes maturity I think, purpose, and reason to do this. But, if you have all this energy, yes the lows suck, but i wonder if they can dampen if you give yourself a very important task and stick with it.
I used to get anxious when I reached mania. I would start to feel scared knowing that this was 'bad' behavior. The feelings I got and the surge of energy I felt were bad and intolerable. This isn't the case. It can be an incredible power for you.
On the other hand, the cockiness and the irritability aren't fun. However, I think this is just the result of youth and immaturity. Given reason, I think they can be rectified with discipline and practice. I've noticed this trend in myself. You just have to realize that, HEY GIRL, there are people out there JUST like you. Who see these things too. You're not the only one. It works better if you question your faith.
Now I reach that state, I don't get anxious. I gave myself a purpose. Now, when i'm in that zone, I use that energy to create. I'm aware of my danger line. I cross it if I lose too much sleep, eat too little, begin to feel very irritable (lack of sleep)Since these are more negative sides to this disorder, I have to manage that consciously. That also takes practice and drive.
I'd say. Give yourself a purpose. I'm sure you see something wrong with the world, and you with you could do something. Know that you can. Know that you're capable. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Healing will come. Come to your own conclusions about what it is you have. Try not to feel guilty, you're a mathematical concept, and that's beautiful.
I dunno.
I could be wrong.
I talk like this, and I receive worried looks.
It always makes me doubt.
please comment if you add, disagree, think i'm a stupid little brat girl, or need a 'real' wake up call.
(i still doubt...always..)

December, 11 2014 at 7:54 pm

I just read this: sort of says what i've been learning.
One common feature in mania or hypomania is the increase in unusually creative thinking and productivity. (2, 3, 5, 7) The manic factor contributes to an increased frequency and fluency of thoughts due to the cognitive difference between normalcy and mania. (2, 5) Manic people often speak and think in rhyme or alliteration more than non-manic people. (2, 5) In addition, the lifestyles of manic-depressives in their manic phase is comparable to those of creative people. Both groups function on very little sleep, restless attitudes, and they both exhibit depth and emotion beyond the norm. (2, 5) Biologically speaking, the manic state is physically alert. That is, it can respond quickly and intellectually with a range of changes (i.e. emotional, perceptual, behavioral). (5) The manic perception of life is one without bounds. This allows for creativity because the person feels capable of anything. It is as if the walls, which inhibit the general population, do not exist in manic people, allowing them to become creative geniuses. They understand a part of art, music, and literature which normal people do not attempt. The manic state is in sharp contrast to the depressive phase of bipolar patients. In their depressed phase, patients only see gloom and boundaries. They feel helpless, and out of this helplessness comes the creativity. (5) The only way bipolar patients can survive their depressed phases, oftentimes, is to unleash their despondency through some creative work. (5, 3)

December, 11 2014 at 7:56 pm

However, the problem with bipolar disorder in present time is that drug treatment often vanquishes the creativity in the patient. (5) In earlier days when drug therapy was not implemented, the creativity would be free. Yet, through the attempt for affected people to cope with day to day living, their creativity must be sacrificed. It is remarkable how these "afflicted" persons exude extraordinary creativity. Therapists and researchers are on the constant search to provide treatment for the debilitating symptoms. In the case of bipolar disorder, the world benefits from the mood swings endured by a large percentage of these patients. Though their ability to function properly is of utmost concern, since the cycling between manic and depressive phases is so traumatic and energy depleting, the unusual existence of creativity of such caliber in these people is something to conserve. As more effective drug treatment is being sought after, hopefully there will be medication that will permit the creative genius of the patients and allow them to function in society as well.
I didn't know this.... (CLEARLY YA"LL KNOW WHAT MOOOOD I"M IN)

December, 24 2014 at 3:51 pm

how to come out from stress?

December, 28 2014 at 2:58 pm

I have, like most people who are posting, been diagnosed with "high functioning bipolar I" personally I was on medication for about 10 years, and I thought it was only for depression and anxiety. 3 years ago I discover I was diagnosed as bipolar I. I always knew there was something off about me, and I always felt the necessity to hide it from anyone I work with, as well as people that I scocialize with, I know that with all of my research I have been struggling since I have been a preteen.
I started working as soon as high school finished, I learned a trade, then I got married and found an office job. I am happily divorced now, however there have been many other jobs since working with a large department store in management for 8 years. As many of you have mentioned what sucks the life out of you, and creates an unstable reliability towards work, is the effort involved to act "normal" 24-7.
It is a balancing act, and a fine art. At one point in time I was hospitalized for a month, they changed my medication. The year and a half that followed I simply do not remember, however I was told I slept the whole time. I temporarily moved in with my mom to get back on my feet. I then searched for a job I could manage. Currently I am off all medication for almost 2 years now, and I work steadily 4 days per week.
It is going to be a constant battle for all who experience bipolar, especially more so the "high functioning" as clearly more is expected of us, and inevitably we are labelled as being "lazy" if we do not deliver. It is encouraging to me that many others are still winning the fight against the ups and downs, the constant energy and concentration required to stay focused and live productive lives. Don't expect perfection, and do not be too discouraged if you need to change jobs for your sanity.
Thanks for listening!

Barb T.
January, 27 2015 at 3:49 pm

Wow I appreciate this article so much. I have biploar 2 and you nailed the feelings...I am probably going to get a big job soon and I feel like a victim of my own high-functioning (lol). I want to curl up in the fetal position forever when I think about having to be normal in a new high stress job.
EVERYTHING is an I look, how I speak, my demeanor...I mean how am I supposed to keep up?? :(
Thanks for your articles they help.

February, 5 2015 at 8:49 pm

In my 50th year, 26 years since being diagnosed bipolar, I'm still functioning in this world, determined to be me, unmediated, and free.
Life is simple
Life is free
when we simply learn to be.
It's not so simple though, is it?
The highs and lows
with hypomanic periods of seeming stability.
Which me am I?
I am all three!
Thankfully, I am not a chemically-dulled shell.
One Psychiatrist early on told my wife, "Our goal is to keep him working", as if I am a machine with no other purpose
or aspirations.
Truthfully though, I relate to Natasha Tracy. It is challenge enough to work each day. I'm often "alone", even when I appear with others. I retreat within to calm my mind or I blend into the scene like a chameleon.
I used to feel lost in this world
until I spent extended time alone.
In "aloneness", one is found.
I cherish time to be
a beautiful amalgamation.
Me, myself, and I
One man, three "me's",
with liberty and justice for all.
Bless you all

February, 10 2015 at 5:38 pm

Hi i am tied, also tired, i want to die and be alone. I personally dont like to give definition to ny feelings i live without them but interacting with other people and having them judge me all the time is what kills me. Im not very good with anyone else anymore. My parents think im fine. I was having episodes more often and more severe about a year ago so i seeked out treatment talked with a therapist and went into a hospital. The psychiatrist there prescribed me depakote but after researching others who were medicated i threw the bottle away. Id almost rather go through the cycles if anyone else has felt the same way or wants to steer me away from this id like your input. I dont even think i had a diagnosis i just from research am fairly sure that i have bipolar my guess is type 1, my aunt was bipolar a bad case she died outside homeless in a dumpster. About two years ago i was hearing voices and thought someone was calling my name i searched around and noone was there, this while in the airforce so i didnt tell anyone fearing a bad discharge. I had no energy to do anything id stay in bed during pt risking trouble and skip marching i was pretty good at breaking the rules. Then i had a full blown attack at my ex gfs house last year i was pacing around breathing heavy and i thought i could understand this perception like noone else and it was degenerative the whole thing. I was the answer i knew everything communication wasnt there though. I was seeing my thoughts played out and hearing things thst i knew were going to be said and the meaning i just basically knew myself that this is useless i cant explain.. anyway after that i didnt attribute it to any mental illness i was pretty hard footed in belief that theres no such thing as depression.. i dont know what i am getting at i guess im dancing with words here..

February, 14 2015 at 5:40 pm

Richard, I think you are on to something as far as "dancing with words". Bipolar 1 can be just as much a gift as it is an illness. Its worth working through the medications as this will help eventually as helps to prevent things getting worse as you get older. Litium is good as there is new evidence it helps to protect the parts of the brain that bipolar 1 may damage. It has some big side effects and you must look after yourself to prevent kidney and throid damage but it has a great track record and doesnt dumb you down like other meds...ask your doc bout it if you havent tried it.
Bipolar 1 is hard, its hard to keep fit both phyically and mentally. You learn after a while (if you work to stay in control) it is truly a blessing and maby we are an evolving part of humanity as we are capable of things normal ppl couldnt even comprehend. I try to explain my condition to others and fight the stigma and yes most of the time this just depressez me but the thing is I look at it like we are dyslexic and without the right tools we struggle. Without a bipolar teacher its hard, with english (laungauge) being our main form of communication its hard, trying to slow down (and sometimes speedup) during a conversation is hard when in our heads we can be 5 subjects ahead of that that is being spoken. I have faith that one day we as a group will support eachother better and truly show the world that we are not so much ill just different and need the right tools to help i.e education, medication, council, exercize and healthy eating and most importantly support from fellow bipolars as they are the only ones that can truely understand that your not just being lazy or have had too much coffee lol.
We are 1-5% of the population (depending on which study you read) so WE ARE NOT ALONE EVER! Its time we spent more time helping others with our condition rather then comparing ourselfs to the 95-99% of...well boring ppl (you know jts true). Im happy even when im depressed and suicidal because like the buddists say "sorrow follows happiness and happiness follows sorrow" and I dont judge myself by socities standards anymore; I have no iPhone, no house, a shitty car (that i love), and a job about 50% of the time but Im happy and try to stay peacefull as much as possible and withdraw to my cave only when i must. I have been diagnosed over 10 years ago and it has felt like 100 years but i wouldn't change a thing and if you would i question if you have bipolar.

February, 16 2015 at 10:07 pm

I am in tears. Thank you for writing this. I am so glad I found this! I have been diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder. In fact, I was diagnosed over a year ago, yet I did not want to believe the diagnosis because it didn't seem to "fit" with the more traditional thoughts of what bipolar is.
Yet you perfectly described everything I have been feeling and going through. Thank You.

March, 4 2015 at 1:09 am

I hear what everyone is saying. I was diagnosed only two years ago after struggling for two decades. I work full time and spend most of my time trying to work out the social rules so I can conform. I got chipped by my boss the other day for my negative body language in the staff room. I am struggling to get to work, do my job and not stuff it up and she has no idea how hurtful her comment was. I don't have enough energy or resilience for work, family, the community and let alone me. I would be ostracised if work knew I had bi polar so hiding it is my second full time job. So much for high functioning!

Dr Know
March, 8 2015 at 5:11 am

If you hear voices, your correct diagnoses would more likely be schizoaffective disorder. Meds never cure or solve the problems that MI brings people....meds are only a tool of many that must be used when they offer more benefits than costs.
I'm an extremely high functional BPer and used to struggle for years on how to live a fake "normal life. I gave up on that....switched to being a mental health professional working directly with all MI types and find that my spirit thrives on helping others deal with their symptoms. Most my co-workers talk about how terribly stressful the job is. I find it to be the least stressful thing I have ever done, including being unemployed. IDK, "maybe it takes one to know one."
MI is still a hidden secret that is tried to be forgotten in our society and one thing I try to do with my patients is to help them fully embrace they have MI and to self advocate every way possible. Having MI is no different than having any other disease....except the extreme discrimination that our society practices. There is no shame in having MI, the repeating cycle of symptoms, treatment, and remission is just like any other disease....and most diseases do create chaos in the lives of those it effects. MI is filled with stories of unfilled potential waiting to happen when those with MI embrace it, deal with it, and use it to soar. "Healers are Spiritual Warriors who have found the courage to defeat ... the depths of their deepest fears, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes."

Mrs lonely
March, 16 2015 at 10:45 am

Reading this honestly saved me tonight, I've spent my whole life 'suffering' this way. I am 25 years old and got my first full time job 6 1/2 years ago straight out of education, I have reached a point where I have had so much time off sick that I am beginning to wonder if I can continue working, I know I am making myself ill.
The continued faking is exhausting, I do not have the words to explain to those close to me(those who know) how I feel, so I keep it all locked away.
I don't want to give up yet I do not know an employer who will put up with my sick time, I went for 4 years without a sick day but I am certain that after the non stop faking and forcing myself, my body has given up as I have caught every nasty virus and infection going. I honestly couldn't make up the amount of times I've been ill.
Not to mention that I have suffered with migraines all my life, and the medication I am on has gradually made them worse, I had a psychiatrist until I was 18 who helped me greatly but now I rely on going to my local doctors surgery and I feel completely misunderstood, I think perhaps being young I come across as dramatic and lazy.
I don't know where I am going at the moment, I don't know if I'll make it but at least reading this for the time being I feel at last I can relate to something.

March, 18 2015 at 4:11 am

Natasha's story is such a relief. I too have high functioning bi-polar 1 which I was diagnosed with at age 24 and rediagnosed this year at the age of 48. (I decided after the early diagnosis that the psychiatrists had no clue what they were talking about and lithium made me feel funny). I too have left a trail of quit jobs and half finished degrees which has led to a feeling of pointlessness. I really thought I was the only person that did this.... then I thought maybe I'd just google "quitting jobs and bipolar" and hey, there's a whole world of us!
I tried hard to disappear into the wallpaper in many jobs, my favourite work being a typist in a typing pool, or a night shift typist. Something where I could work, go home, and have some of myself left at the end. I always managed to get "promoted" though, I am simply not the sort of person that can disappear - Apart from being 6 foot, I think bipolar leaks out even when you have your best game face on, and people know you are different. They just can't put their finger on it and end up being slightly fascinated.
I have just quit my latest job working as the secretary for a criminal lawyer. All was going well. I love the work. He knew my problems, he accommodated me to the point where it caused rumblings of discontent amongst other employees, but eventually my days were numbered. As described by Natasha my weekends were a mess. They were long, a Friday to a Monday, but they were completely ruined. It felt like some kind of Wylie Coyote cartoon - Monday to Thursday I would run around trying to keep the steam escaping from all these little cracks in my facade, by Friday I was miserable but kept going with the energy still from the week, by Saturday..... BOOM! sobbing, grumpy paralysed with depression. Sunday, basket case. My family all suffered.
My psychiatrist, GP and psychologist have all very gently hinted over time that although I might like my job that my job does not like me. I am an artist and photographer when I feel up to it, and their gentle hints that perhaps I could make just as good a living from that didn't go down well with me, because my inability to start let alone finish anything is a major problem. Physically I am a mess. Working and keeping it all together left no time for exercise. I have put on 20 kgs in 2 years and my knees and ankles feel every kilo.
We can't really afford for me not to work but health trumps wealth every time.
Thank you all. I don't feel as alone as when I started typing those words into Google.

March, 22 2015 at 7:44 am

what a great thread. thank you to all who have posted comments.
went to an ivy-league university and have a phd. currently a junior faculty member. just telling you that to check the "high functioning" box.
i had been diagnosed with unipolar depression since 1997. i was first diagnosed bipolar disorder in 2005. the reason i had gone to the psychiatrist for a reassessment in the first place was because of my mood swings. my boyfriend found them unbearable and I said i'd get another opinion. the doc dx'd bipolar. i tried lithium and hated it. I quit.
insert 10 years of struggle here. if i deliberately withheld my sleep medication i could easily induce mania which i could use to get my work done in graduate school. if i don't take something to sleep, i don't sleep. all of a sudden it is morning. time seems to contract, a day goes by in a blink. i love/d these times.
as i have gotten older though, these times have changed. they have gone from inspiration to agitation. the beginning is inspired, but it quickly morphs to agitation and an inability to focus.
i don't particularly like the term mania because it seems hyperbolic to me, but fine, whatever, mania... for lack of better language, my "manic" states have - in the context of work, anyway, lessened in inspiration and productivity -- and everything just seems like too much. I feel gloomy and hopeless and agitated and angry and on the verge of tears and ugh.
and ok, i'm leaving out many many parts of my adolescence and twenties when i engaged in substance abuse and promiscuity and risk-taking behavior - and fair enough - they say that bipolar people aren't particularly good at diagnosing themselves - and i totally get that because when i went back in this past fall for a second opinion and got diagnosed as bipolar 1 with mixed episodes, severe - i was dumbfounded at first.
Well, to be honest I'd go back and forth. I mean, it seems like when I'd have and upswing I'd feel fine - I'm not sick. but when I'd get depressed, I'm sick. I don't even know how often I'd go back and forth. I got a mood tracker for my iphone and used it for like 3 weeks before I completely lost interest. Seems like it varies. Sometimes days, sometimes weeks. Who really cares? Why does it matter? Does it really change anything?
i know that had been acting out of character for the last year and a half, had been doing some things that I will regret forever and that lightened my savings account significantly. if i weren't so profoundly paranoid that google could connect me to the content of this post i would actually write it here.
i am paranoid that people will be able to tell who i am and i've masked my identity because god forbid my colleagues find out i'm bipolar. (even though, really, no one cares. people are more absorbed with themselves. they aren't thinking about me at all.)
the stigma is too damning. so sad. i am told i should not feel ashamed of it - but i am ashamed of it. i am so ashamed of it. of the label, anyway. and maybe more. of seeming weak. of not having my act together. of not being able to function like i used to. of having needs. I hate needing other people. I have this sense that other people don't really want to be needed and that other people can really take only so much.
My job brings out the Worst in me, in some ways. It stresses me out. but it is such a "prestigious" job that some of my friends/colleagues are horrified when i say i am thinking of leaving academia. but i think i will leave. because the stress is making me so unhappy. and i feel like i have missed out on having a life.
Then i worry that this is just a rough patch and I should just see it through. But then I think - - maybe that's what I've been telling myself for the last 18 years and I just need to stop trying to prove myself to the point of misery.
and as i have gotten older i have gotten the sense that what really matters is relationships with other people. and time spent with them. I am really happy sitting around the table laughing with family or hanging out with friends. and i used to exercise and run and see sunlight and have (gasp) hobbies. and i am really miserable spending so much time alone.
sometimes i shut and lock my office door and just lay on the floor. like, won't-somebody-come-save-me lay-on-the-floor. like, remember-when we-used-to-take-naps-and-eat-cookies lay-on-the-floor. like, how-did-i-get-here? lay-on-the-floor (cue Talking Heads song).
i still feel like the job stress is the source of some of my instability - i think my life would be much better if i changed my lifestyle.
btw - tried lithium again, hated it. on topirimate - going well so far, hard to say.
like someone in a previous thread said, i wouldn't trade whatever is "wrong" with me for anything, even though i have been miserable at times. I'm really grateful for so much. really. But sometimes i do get selfish and self-righteous and I have little tantrums about why i'm not thinner and i feel pissy about how much of my hair fell out when i took lithium again and i don't like the wrinkles showing up on my face as i age, but i know how unbecoming that is, and that it is far better to say things like: I'm grateful for so much.
and even though the "label" is something I don't share with people and something that I am ashamed of. I'm only ashamed of it because other people are stupid and judgmental. it is really great reading comments from you guys and sharing with you guys.

March, 22 2015 at 3:38 pm

I just googled type 2 bipolar and fatigue to see if I could find other people who were experiencing the same thing, and this article came up.
I cant believe how much your story sounds like mine - particularly the part about being too tired to do anything and not really having a life.
My family doesn't understand and I just thought it was because I am anti-social or strange, nothing to do with my bipolar.
Its really nice to read this and know that I am not a freak and this is 'normal' for us, so thank you.

April, 3 2015 at 8:12 pm

Thank you for your article, high-functioning bipolar. I gave my psychologist almost this exact description at my last appointment. If I choose to work and function as a "normal" person to pay my bills and keep benefits for my medications then that is all I can do. It is exhausting, there is nothing left emotionally or mentally. At a certain point I cannot keep it up and leave my job for something less stressful, but then I can't pay my bills. This time I took the short term disability offered by my company. Money is super tight, but I was reaching a dangerous point that was not worth the risk. The one constant that I have is my faith, during decades of pain, it has kept a small enough flicker of hope to keep me alive. Thank you for speaking of and helping those of us who struggle to connect or describe what life with bipolar feels like.

April, 3 2015 at 8:44 pm

After reading a few more posts, I want to add a couple of things that I recently learned. Lamictal and Effexor have been life savers for me. After 20 some odd years hoping to get hit by a bus so the pain and exhaustion would end, I found some stability. I recently found out why Effexor is one of the most effective meds for bipolar. It targets three areas of the brain rather than just seratonin. Paxil, the antidepressant I was put on at one point, sent me into mania and destroyed an important relationship in my life and caused me terrible shame for years. If you have tried Lamictal and Effexor XR without success, you may be like me and have success only with brand names and not generic. They are incredibly expensive even with my insurance, but I live very frugally to make them a priority. The pharmaceutical company that makes Lamictal will work with you through your psychiatrist if you need help financially. With a recent ADHD diagnosis, my meds are certainly still a work in progress, but I am grateful to have found some that provided an improvement that gave me 10 better years than the previous 20. It is still a process and I don't know how I will be able to keep supporting myself.

April, 25 2015 at 6:51 pm

I literally cried read all of the comments. I had no idea there were more people like me. I always feel sooo alone with the issues. I never even considered that there was a larger issue when I was younger and made what seemed like rash decisions. Now I know why I wasn't able to finish college or hold down any job. Why some days I can clean my whole house and do all 5 loads of laundry i have been neglecting and others I can barely force myself out of bed. And why I have to constantly find reasons to not have to leave my home. Why I can be ok and then it angry the new. Minutes. It just feel good to know I am not the only one

susan rivas
May, 2 2015 at 5:10 pm

I have depressive bipolar 2 and at 50 years of age I can tell that i'm getting much worse. I held my first nursing job down for 24 years but the stress became too much and I resigned. I held my 2nd nursing job down for 7 years,,even though it was a plum job I ended up alienating a lot of my co-workers and went through several years of escalating verbal abuse until I finally had to report it to the higher ups and threaten a federal lawsuit to get it stopped. After that my days were numbered and they finally and very subtly got rid of me. I think they are still afraid of me filing a lawsuit and they should be. I have years of medical records detailing all of these events plus a supportive co-worker friend who witnessed at least 90 percent of this and backed up my original complaint with one of her own. I'm on my 3rd nursing job now and only part time at that,,it's all I can handle and I'm not doing well at all. The fact that I have some mental issues is very obvious to the people I work with,,they are nice about it but it's becoming a big problem. I've only worked 2 months at this new job and I'm afraid that I'm not going to last very long. I'm getting to the point that I can barely handle stress so I see my ability to work slowly coming to an end. A bipolar friend of mine warned me about 10 years ago that even with me being on medication that I would end up getting much worse. I blew him off but I now see how right he was and I'm very scared.

May, 6 2015 at 1:25 pm

Age 53
Ditto Kari

May, 14 2015 at 2:57 pm

I am high functioning with bipolar disorder too. I used to be a teacher and I would spend the weekend recuperating. Now I am on disability, work part time, and lead a much more balanced life. My therapist explained that I am still high functioning because that just means I am able to live independently. Being high functioning with a mental illness is different from being high functioning without a mental illness. It seems like you don't have to do anything remarkable to be labeled high functioning, you just have to be able to fake being sane, like you said.

May, 17 2015 at 11:13 pm

I, like many others on this excellent thread, fall into the category of a high functioning Bipolar. I find it helpful reading all of your experiences with juggling life and this condition.
My story is similar to so many here: beautiful white productive maniacs in adolescence, which gradually have given way to black mixed episodes. As I get older (I'm 31 now), I don't seem to normalised to euthymia between mood episodes any more - this means I have to grit my teeth and get on with it during the working week and then spend the weekends curled up in bed. My productivity is also gradully leaving me.
I'm a poor imitation of the person I used to be. I breezed through college, studied Medicine at University and squeezed in an intercalated BSc in Clinical Sciences for which I got 1st Class honours. I'm currently doing an Academic Clinical Fellowship in Anaesthesia, Intensive care and Pharmacogenetics. I have been off work for 3 weeks now and spend most of my time in bed. I don't feel capable of doing anything anymore, it's like the bright light that once burned inside has been extinguished. I'm meant to be starting my PhD in August, which makes me laugh a little as a good day right now is one in which I can find a matching pair of clean socks. That's about it really, for those who are interested, I take Lithium 1200mg, Quetiapine 600mg, Sertraline 150mg.
Best of luck to all of you.

May, 17 2015 at 11:20 pm

Sorry, second paragraph should read mania and not maniacs - Freudian slip.

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