Living with the Uncertainties of Bipolar Disorder

May 11, 2017 Natasha Tracy

Living with bipolar disorder creates uncertainty. You never know when depression, mania or hypomania may strike. Can you deal with the uncertainties of bipolar?Living with bipolar disorder is chock full of uncertainty. You never know when you might be well. You never know when you might be acutely depressed. You never know when mania might make you psychotic. And you never know when it might be the day when you need the hospital. If that isn’t uncertainty, I don’t know what it. And while everyone lives with uncertainty, the uncertainties that come with bipolar disorder are so very hard to live with.

Uncertainty in Life

I was watching television this morning and an advertisement came on that said, “I no longer deal with the uncertainty of hepatitis C.”

I have no doubt that living with that illness would bring uncertainty. I’m not familiar enough to say exactly what that would be, but I suspect flare-ups are that to which they were referring.

And this brings about an important point: everyone deals with uncertainty in life. If nothing else, we all deal with the fact that we could be dead tomorrow. That is an uncertainty we all face.

Uncertainty in Bipolar Disorder

But, for me, the uncertainties of bipolar disorder are so much worse, probably because their likelihood is so much more real.

A “flare-up” doesn’t just affect me physically but it affects me mentally, too. Normally my flare-up is that of a serious major depression and those tend to make me want to die. I never know when I’ll wake up having to fight the urge of wanting to die. This is horrific. When will I get to plan anything when I never know when I’ll even want to be alive, let alone actually do anything?

And then there is the option of hypomania or mania for those with bipolar. You never know when you might wake up with the urge to have sex with anything that moves. You never know when you might wake up with the urge to spend thousands of dollars you don’t have. You never know when you might wake up so irritable that you tell off your boss and get fired. For some, these are the prevalent uncertainties in their lives.

So yes, we all live with the uncertainty of dying, but only a select few of us face the uncertainty of waking up in a place that will destroy our lifestyles or even take our lives.

Dealing with the Uncertainties in Bipolar Disorder

When I wake up wanting to die, and I know I won’t get any work done, and I know I will spend the day crying instead of completing my desired tasks, it feels to me like the uncertainties of bipolar disorder are impossible to deal with. But the fact is, no matter how much they suck, I deal with them every day. Even though some days I wake up in the worst of all worlds, some days it’s not so bad and that can make normal things possible.

So while I feel like waking up with bipolar disorder is like rolling the dice at a craps table, I know that I can live with this uncertainty because I’ve proven it. It requires juggling commitments, rescheduling appointments, flexibility from those around me and wellness plans that take this into account, but I know it’s possible.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2017, May 11). Living with the Uncertainties of Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 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.

Glenda Munnik
May, 12 2017 at 11:49 pm

Very helpful information

Tom Wierman
May, 16 2017 at 11:00 am

I also find a lot of these articals helpful in trying to understand my 20 yr old son. Are these emotions descibed while on or off meds?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
May, 17 2017 at 12:23 pm

Hi Tom,
I'm on meds, but, please understand, I have bouts that meds don't seem to touch. This is not true of everyone.
- Natasha Tracy

May, 17 2017 at 7:14 pm

Thanku this write up gave me strength to go on.

Gayle S.
May, 17 2017 at 8:24 pm

Natasha, your blogs are great perspective as a "peer" (lived experience). After teenage depression, I was diagnosed BP 1 24 years ago. I haven't been suicidal since being on meds, but my issues are keeping mania to the level of functional hypomania. I recommend peer support groups and education, self-awareness and wellness techniques as well. I had never heard that meds are hard to treat waking up warning sign for hypomania. I take PRNs in those sleep - one benzo...(anti-anxiety) and a small dose of an atypical antipsychotic. I know my cycles and my support team is aware of my WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan). Keep up the good work....every person's illness is different and they have to work at what makes their life balanced and meaningful.

May, 19 2017 at 11:41 am

Great article!
Great Article!

May, 19 2017 at 1:31 pm

Couldn't agree more.

Eric Case
June, 5 2017 at 2:40 pm

Thank you so much for this article, I was diagnosed last year with bipolar 2, I'm also a rapid cycler so I never know what the next day or even hoilura are going to bring. I've been on a mood stabilizer for awhile now and it definitely heads off the extremes for the most part but I still deal with these issues quite a bit . I was literally reading this while sitting in my tub because it's the only thing I had the energy to do today. I had a day to myself which is rare and I wasted the whole thing because all I want to do is sleep until tomorrow to escape the sadness depression brings. Anyways thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one who goes through this. All I know is I just have to keep pushing forward one step at a time

June, 16 2017 at 10:58 am

yes,most people dont wake up not knowing what extreme mood they'll be in.With me,it's usually sadness or depression, so down I could die, nothing good in the world,my life wasted on bp.I can surface when interested by something or good mood ca just happen I say good advisedly.Its like I never know myself fully. I also have the double whammy of different moods morning and night

Susan yates
October, 30 2021 at 5:00 am

Thank you for this post and blog
I am a newcomer to this site and also to being a person with a bipolar illness. All the information on here is extremely useful

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