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Bipolar is Biological


François-Marie Arouet — the person we are more familiar with as “Voltair”, a French Enlightenment Writer and Philosopher said,

Madness is to think of too many things in succession too fast, or of one thing too exclusively.”

He was describing, quite perfectly, bipolar disease.

I chose the word “disease” over “disorder” intentionally because frankly, bipolar is not a “disorder”, it is a “disease”; a disease of the brain.

Bipolar is not someone’s “imagination”, nor is it just a, “chemical imbalance”, but instead is something that we can now see on an MRI. There are currently many studies taking place and adjustments being made to how MRIs can be used and are read when it comes to diagnosing and treating some “mental illnesses” like bipolar.

Professor Philips told the Congress that scans of the brains of people who are suffering depression or bipolar disorder show ‘functionally coupled’ activity in two regions of the brain, the amygdala which processes emotions, and the pre-frontal cortex, important for emotional regulation.” ~ Medical News Today

But, that’s not all. Images show significant differences between a bipolar brain and a non-bipolar brain.

Recent research utilizing brain-imaging and post-mortem brain tissue samples suggests oxidative damage to cells of the brain and spinal cord plays a strong role in the development and progression of bipolar disorder” ~ Wang et al, 2009… and … “Brain-imaging is used to study the brain’s structure and neural activity in patients with bipolar disorder. These studies have indicated changes in size, shape, and function of several areas of the brain including the anterior cingulate cortex and the prefrontal cortex.” ~ NIMH, 2013

In addition, when a bipolar patient is suicidal, that too can be seen, only this time, by way of a blood test.

“The researchers analyzed the blood of participants who reported a dramatic shift from feeling no suicidal thoughts at all, to strong suicidal ideation. Results of the analysis revealed significant gene differences between the patients who experienced high states of suicidal thinking and the people with low states of suicidal feeling. The researchers say they found that the marker SAT1, alongside a series of others, was a strong “biological signal” associated with suicidal thoughts.” ~ Medical News Today

These are biological markers that need to be understood and taken into consideration in our treatment. No more should we be administered to cookie-cutter style by psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians and counselors ; those who treat us need to stay abreast of these studies and new treatment options.

This also means our caregivers need to take more care in listening to us tell them about what and how we are actually feeling as individuals and not just some line item description in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association .

It’s Because We Care That It’s Not Fair


Those same discoveries also need to be recognized and embraced by our family and friends. Bipolar is not a choice and the lack of support and understanding is just another undeserved punishment.

For good reason, most bipolar people are shy about their illness…  It’s an easy litmus test:  when a man educates himself about my illness, I know he really cares for me.  But when that same man uses his knowledge as a weapon – watch out.  We’re in for big trouble.  Knowing about my illness is a sacred trust; don’t abuse it.” ~ Psychology Today

I have bipolar. It’s not a secret. It’s important to me that those I am in daily — or at least frequent proximity with, know I have it. They also need to know what that means for me in order to know what that means for them and how, if at all, it will affect them and what to do if something “bad” were to happen.

If you choose to not listen; to negate or otherwise overlook what has been shared and what it could mean, then that is not our fault. If you have no interest yet still choose to engage, then that too, is not our fault.

Manic episodes can also have psychotic symptoms present. Psychosis is a state in which a person is unable to tell the difference from reality and unreality. Psychotic symptoms indicate a severe mood episode that requires immediate medical attention and treatment.” ~ Psych Central

But, at the same time…having bipolar is no guarantee something bad will happen, it is not even a “given”and therein lies the problem when I — and other people with bipolar, try to “share”.

Is It Impolite To Point Out You’re Being Impolite?


1. J-U-D-G-E-M-E-N-T

…which is really misplaced expectations. Um hello? You have seen “The Secret”, right? OK then, stop putting that negative juju out there, trust me, we don’t need it. The last thing we need is to be judged for something we have no choice but to own. It’s also unfair, so remember, when you belittle…YOU are small.

Not only did bipolar rob me of my sanity, but it robbed me of my ability to see beyond the space it dictated me to look. I no longer could tell reality from fantasy, and I walked in a world no longer my own.” ― Alyssa ReyansLetters from a Bipolar Mother

2. N-E-G-L-E-C-T

…ignorance is the better word, but I’m being polite. If you choose to not understand, that is a choice and in making it you are choosing to not be a loving, supportive friend, spouse or family member. We need you to understand because we need you. You and your love is a large part of our well-being. Your disgust is our demise.

When you are mad, mad like this, you don’t know it. Reality is what you see. When what you see shifts, departing from anyone else’s reality, it’s still reality to you.” ― Marya HornbacherMadness: A Bipolar Life

Fear & Self-Loathing 


There is no amount of loathing on your part that will change what happened with the bipolar person. The sad reality is your loathing only increases our own self-loathing and genuinely submerges us deeper into the pit of depression that always follows a manic [read psychotic] episode. Again, we have no choice; this is how our brains work.

We do not get to pick and choose the time of our madness.

We do not get to pick and choose who witnesses our madness.

We do not even get to choose the after-affects of our madness, that part, is up to you.

We are still fun.

We are still brilliant.

We are still lovable.

Don’t stop loving who we are because you have once seen who we can become.

Bipolar robs you of that which is you. It can take from you the very core of your being and replace it with something that is completely opposite of who and what you truly are. ” ~ ― Alyssa ReyansLetters from a Bipolar Mother


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12 comments on “Bipolar is Biological

  1. lenwilliamscarver
    December 1, 2013

    Hugs {{{}}} Thank you so much for opening my mind and my heart to this, it helps me understand so much more. God Bless

    • Cheri
      December 1, 2013

      Thank you so much for being open to learning and caring!!! THAT is what matters most. And thank you for reading again. I appreciate you.

  2. Pingback: There is Beauty in Bipolar | Cheri Speak

  3. Gavin
    December 1, 2013

    Reblogged this on Going Sideways and commented:
    This is a very important and powerful article about what and how Bipolar is. Thank you Cheri.

    • Cheri
      December 1, 2013

      Thank you very much for sharing this Gavin. I hope someone somewhere gets something positive for all I am sharing.

      • Gavin
        December 1, 2013

        You’re welcome. Thank you for putting it out there.

  4. charleskafka2013
    December 1, 2013

    hanging around with the more artistic crowd, i have many bipolar friends.
    had a child in my care once who was bipolar, + about 5 other things.
    the medications the doctors had him on, was doing more harm to him than the bipolar.
    anyway, it’s continuing battle looking for cures fixes, for it, my bipolar friends seem to do well anyway.
    dealing with bipolar friends for me, is just business as usual.

  5. jarnold49
    December 1, 2013

    Thank you Cheri. It really helps to understand that he/she isn’t “just acting out.” I’ve known several people who would go into rages from time to time, for no apparent reason. Is that (probably) bipolar? What’s the best way to respond to a bipolar someone who’s either angry or depressed? Is there a typical frequency of mood swings? Is there a drug that helps “smooth” the “down” mood swings that doesn’t just lobotomize?

    Does it help to know and accept one’s own condition? (I like “condition” better than “disease”) The only way I can relate is from an unpleasant acid trip I had: I told myself “okay, so, I’m having a bad effect from the drug”, and that helped. I know it’s a bad (hopefully not insulting) comparison, but does that sort of informed detachment help?

    Questions questions. Hope you don’t mind.

    • Cheri
      December 1, 2013

      Yes, when i am in the throes of the worst “downs” detaching is what gets me through. I talk myself through 5-minutes at a time because during those times that is the best i can do. i can tell myself that my feelings are real, but they WILL pass…just five more minutes…however, for the “ups” … the state of hypomaia is not the danger-zone, it is what can come of it when it turns to true mania, at that point he bipolar person is experiencing a COMPLETE BREAK WITH REALITY, nothing you are doing or saying is resonating in any positive way and instead is easily interpreted as evil and bad. I hate all pharmaceuticals however, if I was truly manic, medication (and sometimes hospitalization) at that point is necessary.

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"We need to create the desire to know within the minds of the populous. Because, when they know, they will no longer be able to remain idle, nor silent". ~ Cheri Roberts

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Cheri Roberts

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