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What It’s Like to Experience a Major Depressive Episode With Bipolar 2

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Many people don’t realize there are four different types of bipolar disorder. The two most commonly documented types are bipolar 1 and bipolar 2. The difference between the two boils down to this:

• What is Bipolar disorder?

According to, all types of bipolar disorder are characterized by extreme moods. The highs are known as manic episodes and the lows are know as depressive episodes. The difference between bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 is the severity of the manic episodes.

A person with bipolar 1 may or may not experience a major depressive episode, while a person with bipolar 2 will experience a major depressive episode.

I have personally been diagnosed with bipolar 2. Before finding this out for certain, there were times when I was made to feel as if it was just clinical depression because I primarily struggled with depressive episodes. I know there were points when I even doubted myself.

It’s been some time since I experienced a major manic episode. My mania often manifests itself as an inability to sleep for days followed by bouts of extreme anger. It took me some time to discover that these symptoms were part of bipolar II. indicates that irritability is an emotion that people with bipolar disorder often experience. It is very common during manic episodes but can pop up at other times. A person may be easily annoyed or upset with someone’s requests to talk. A person with bipolar disorder may anger easily and often.

Most recently, I’ve been struggling with a major depressive episode that has been present for four months. I do have moments where I feel slightly better, only to be hit harder with the horrible symptoms of depression. It’s making my life incredibly difficult. I can’t keep up with commitments and everything is far too overwhelming for me. Just the thought of taking a daily shower is too much.

My doctor is taking it step by step and offering as much support as she can. We are currently experimenting with higher dosages of two of my medications. This seems to be bringing forth more good times than bad, and at this point, I’ll take it. At least right now, I am sleeping at night. I still feel exhausted during the day, but I am unable to nap. Migraine attacks are extremely prevalent.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 19. I am currently 46. I keep telling myself that by this stage in my life, I should be able to get out of these types of episodes without a lot of fanfare. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Every single time you go down this road, it’s a different experience. You never know when or how it will strike. I guess that’s the most frustrating part of this disorder. You may be able to learn some of the signs that will lead to a depressive or manic episode, but there’s no exact science.

Despite my struggles with bipolar disorder, I’m grateful. I was once horribly depressed and suicidal. I have learned how to deal with my past and I know I won’t struggle with suicide again. I’ve learned that much about myself. I have an amazing husband who supports me 100%. When things get bad, I just reach out to him and tell him what I’m dealing with. He knows now that I’m not asking him to fix it for me; I just need his support while I figure it out.

I know I will always struggle with bipolar disorder to some degree. There’s no cure that I’m aware of. I’ve come to terms with that. Medication will always be a part of my life, and I’m fine with that. I’m learning more about my own strength and perseverance every day and for that, I am truly grateful.

Photo by Brittani Burns on Unsplash

Originally published: December 29, 2019
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