It wasn’t that long ago that bipolar disorder was believed to be another condition like depression or schizophrenia. “Manic Depression” was first recognized in 1854 by Jules Falret, but it wasn’t until the early 1970s that it was recognized by the U.S. Congress as a legitimate illness and another 10 years before it was given the name we use today.

While it is still often misdiagnosed, especially upon initial presentation, doctors have come quite a long way to more fully understanding this condition which is characterized by periods of increased energy and elevation followed by periods of depression and less energy. Bipolar is more than just a mood swing. It can affect a person’s sleep habits, personal relationships, career and more.

Danita shared her story with us using the Health Stories Project app. She says at first, she didn’t understand that her excessive sleepiness might be caused by something serious:

I slept more than usual. I’ve had spells where I stayed in bed, but I had chalked it up to being tired. I just didn’t know what else it would be. I wanted to sleep, so I figured I was tired.  

I realized that [I was feeling more] safe or isolated under the covers in the bed. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, and when I did, I was irritated. I was snapping and very upset.

This is not me. I’m your typical happy-go-lucky person. This was hard for me and it got to a point where I couldn’t stand being alone with myself. I just didn’t know what I might do, so I decided to seek medical attention. “

Danita sought treatment when she realized something was up. Now, she’s speaking out about life with bipolar disorder.

If you are newly diagnosed or suspect you have bipolar. Danita’s instructions are clear:

“Reach out if you don’t feel like yourself. Reach out if you’re doing things that you wouldn’t normally do or someone’s asking you [if] you are you okay, constantly.

Go to your doctor and tell them how you’re feeling. This is something you have to talk to somebody about and let them help you.”

Everyone’s symptoms and circumstances are different. One diagnostic tool doctors use is the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ). It provides primary physicians with an easy way to identify people who most likely have bipolar. From there, further screening, referral to a psychiatrist, and/or treatment can begin.

Share Your Story

Do you have an interesting or unusual diagnosis story? You can share it with us using the Health Stories Project app. Download it today and get started. You can also join Health Stories Project to hear about more ways to help others with your story.

Please consider thanking Danita in the comments below for sharing her story!