Most people will answer with: ‘fine’, ‘okay’, ‘alright’, ‘good’, ‘great’, ‘amazing’, ‘rubbish’, ‘sad’, ‘crap’ etc etc.
However, how often do you come across someone responding with ‘I don’t know’?
With mood disorders, such as Depression and Bipolar and certain Personality Disorders, like Borderline Personality Disorder, mood swings are common. Now hold up, having mood swings doesn’t mean you have a mental health disorder. In fact, mood swings are totally normal for any age or gender. Whether it’s hormone changes, periods, stress etc, mood swings will happen. But with those with a diagnosed mental health disorder, mood swings can vary and often will be extreme
What counts as extreme?
If I am to use the mood chart that I was given at Bipolar UK, this is how we rank moods:
So from this scale, there are 5 sections. The middle is what most people will feel on a daily basis and what someone with a mood disorder aims for in recovery. This is a balanced mood, so balanced = good. Towards the bottom of the scale is Depression and if someone if being diagnosed with Depression, the doctor will ask questions based on these symptoms to determine whether you’re Depressed and how severe. The top is Mania and for someone being diagnosed with Bipolar, a psychiatrist will ask questions based on these symptoms to see if you have Bipolar and what form of Bipolar. Basically, the top end is ‘oh no, they’ve lost complete touch with reality’ and the bottom end is ‘oh no, keep anything sharp or deadly away from them’. Well, a health care professional won’t put it so bluntly, but that’s pretty much what a 10 and 0 are. I’ve only been one of them – 0.
What happens when the moods change rapidly?
I mean, one day, say Wednesday when I was elected, I felt happy and overjoyed! But a mere day before, I was depressed and thoughts of self harm were popping up. How the hell does that work?! How can one day be like wanting to cut yourself to feeling like you’re on cocaine and having more energy than the people drinking more than you? This is called ‘Rapid Cycling’ and as you can guess, it means moods can change. Rapidly. It can happen in a day, or through a period of days, weeks or months etc, but days is when you really pinpoint it as rapid cycling and that’s something psychiatrists look for when assessing someone for a mood disorder, like Bipolar.
But what about this ‘I don’t know’ feeling?
That my friend is called a ‘mixed mood’ or something. For instance, on Friday, I phoned my friend up, crying hysterically, wanting to hurt myself. That makes me depressed, right? Buuuuuuut, my thoughts were racing and I had loads of energy, so that makes me Hypomanic? This is why a lot of people with mood disorders don’t tend to follow this scale because whilst it gives healthcare professionals an outline on what to assess, it doesn’t always fit our moods. What was I on Friday? Was I depressed or was I hypomanic? Mixed moods are the worst because of that constant questioning and not knowing how to answer the ‘how are you today’ question. On Friday, I had loads of energy, but it was being turned into negative energy because of the depressed feelings, making me very agitated and unable to cope with how I was feeling. I managed to calm down and now I feel alright, but mixed moods are difficult to discuss and pull apart, making diagnosis and treatments harder.
Below are some pics of my moods, try and work out what my mood was (I have never been full on manic, so you are looking for – Depressed, Hypomania, Happy, Mixed and Balanced) Move your mouse over them and see if you’re right!
So what did we learn from this – apart from that I am a tad unpredictable atm? (Sorry to everyone who communicates with me in someway, I promise I still like you, even when I want to kick you in the kneecaps!) Who knows what you learned! But I hope you can understand more about mood swings for someone with a mood disorder and not be a dick about it when someone is clearly having a bad day or days. Telling someone to cheer up or something is stupid, utterly stupid, regardless if they have a mental health disorder or not. Cheer them up if it’s bugging you so much, but don’t be a dick about it because they probably know they’re feeling a bit crappy and don’t need you moaning about it!