I’ve separated them into two sections, for mania and depression. This is in no way an exhaustive list for every person with Bipolar, as people have varying signs and symptoms. This is a list specific to me, and what I have become aware of over the last four and a half years.
- Sleeping less than four hours a night, or not sleeping at all for more than three days in a row. I will simply not feel the urge to sleep, or feel tired. I will have too much to do, too much to focus on. Sleep becomes unimportant and low on my list of priorities.
- Becoming more talkative, usually talking endlessly about everything and anything. I will often speak at a faster pace and my mind will rush ahead to my next point, so my speech can come across as frenzied, as I stumble over or miss out words. This leads to me sometimes speaking complete gibberish.
- A surge in confidence. I will feel like I can do anything and no one can stop me. I will feel more important than everyone else and that my opinions and ideas are always right and any other opinion is wrong.
- Impulsive behaviour. Buying ridiculous shoes that I’m never going to wear! My partner will notice random packages turning up filled with items I’m never going to use, or don’t need. I will start a new business and decide I want to leave my job, for instance.
- Overspending. My spending habits will change and I will buy whatever I want, whether I can afford it or not. I’ll start buying things that are completely out of character that I would never dream of buying when I’m stable, like designer bags/shoes/clothes.
- Starting new projects. This is a regular sign for me that a manic episode is imminent. It may be painting the entire house, being more active on social media, creating reams of artwork or notes for a book.
- No appetite. I won’t feel the need to eat or feel hungry. I will eat for the sake of eating but not because I want to or need to.
- Risk taking. In the past my driving has become more reckless and dangerous. I’ll think less about my own safety and not worry about the consequences of my actions.
- More energy. I’ll wake up in the morning and I’m extremely awake, like someone has flicked a switch and I’m ready for anything. I’ll run around the house doing everything, go to the gym, but nothing dampens my energy.
- Irritability. The little things in life will start to annoy me, like people eating loudly. I will snap at people and be generally grouchy.
It’s critical during these times to have people close to you who can spot the signs of a manic episode. Personally, I’m not always aware of changes to my behaviour and need someone to point them out to me. Share with them what the warning signs are for you, so they are better equipped to help you. Being made aware that your behaviour is showing signs of mania can help you to stop it in it’s tracks. If that’s not possible, it enables you to see a doctor before it becomes any worse.