You have just woken up, and the sadness is pulling you down through your stomach, it feels like an anchor pulling you to the ground. Maybe you've just managed to get some sleep, or maybe you've been sleeping for days and nights. The fact is you feel you're sinking into the depths. 

You're in a depressive state, and you don't want to move, to operate or to function. 

But the difference you feel right now is you have reason to be depressed, at least in your mind. More than other people who experience this feeling you might think. Because you have bipolar disorder, and this depression is one that has happened to follow a manic or hypomanic phase. 

Bipolar regrets

You've done things, hyper-emotional things. You've been overly angry, paranoid or sexual to the point that you might even have contacted people with your feelings and posted about it online, or done things you now regret. Maybe you've spent more money than you could possibly afford and now on top of the depression is a buzz, the anxiety rippling through your body. You just wish you hadn't done it. If only you could go back in time and undo it. Maybe you’ve consumed alcohol in vast quantities, maybe you’ve turned to self-medicating with drugs. Maybe you've gambled, some people do...maybe you feel silly now for your bets that you were so compelled to make. 

I've been there many times. Not with gambling, well, just the once I admit. But I know how it feels to hit a depression following a period of mania. It's hell. 

There's nothing like sitting or lying there thinking that you can't undo what you've done and that nothing will put it right. 

Well in those moments, all I can say is, you might very well be incorrect. Even the worst things that you have done can sometimes be put right or you can find a way to move past them with yourself intact, even if you have to change them or feel differently about them. You need to remember this even though I know it feels impossible at the time. 

Raising awareness of bipolar

Maybe you should inform somebody of your condition if they don't know you have it and have instead come to the conclusion that you just changed on them and started ‘acting out’. Maybe direct them to an article that explains the signs and symptoms of mania. It's a shame you have to, but there is still a great stigma, wariness and ignorance about mood disorders even in 2020. 

The really strange and sad thing is the people who don't acknowledge you had an episode and hold it against you. But they exist. Just remember that it isn't everybody that acts like that.

The only thing that we can do is keep writing about this condition and spreading the word. Most people know about bipolar disorder to some degree but not everyone we ask about it does. Just recently I explained to someone, who suffers from depression, that there are different types of bipolar disorder.

I want to live in a world where people spot the signs of mania and either do something to intervene, or forgive people for the behaviour they exhibit – showing compassion and empathy rather than judgement (or worse). 

All we can do to achieve that is to speak to each other, support each other, raise awareness of the condition, explain it to people willing to listen and hold our heads high, find our way through the painful times and seek out support.

I know that when you’re coming down, all the suggestions I’ve made might feel and seem impossible, you might even feel like you shouldn’t have to explain or raise awareness of bipolar disorder – and to be honest you shouldn’t – but please remember that there are 1 in 50 people in the UK who have a bipolar diagnosis. That’s over 1.3 million people who probably understand, all too well, what you’re going through. And that’s just the people who have a diagnosis!

So, when you’re in the depths and it feels like you’re all alone, please know that there’s always some who can relate to you. Bipolar UK has a number of ways that you can access advice and support from those with lived experience of bipolar.

eCommunity – accessible 24hrs a day, it’s a supportive online forum for everyone affected by bipolar, where you can discuss the challenges you face in a safe and secure space.

Peer Support Line – Bipolar UK offers a call-back service and email support. You will always be contacted by a staff member or volunteer who has been affected by the illness themselves. They can talk you through any issues you have on your mind and share their experience to help you find a way forward.