Richa Madaan

Richa Madaan

Inside the Mind: A Candid Conversation on Bipolar Disorder with Becky Lindquiste

  Jan 17, 2024
Reviewed by Ayushi Jain

Learn about bipolar disorder with Becky Lindquiste image

You may have encountered someone with immense moodiness, transitioning from moments of excitement to complete seclusion. If you’ve seen about 100 people like this, it could be that one or two out of them have bipolar disorder, a mental health condition impacting one’s temper terribly.

It can happen at any age, though the average age is 15-19. Developing this mental illness after 40 is rare. It’s primarily genetic, and when one parent has this condition, there’s a 10% possibility of their child inheriting it. 

Here’s a candid conversation with Ms. Becky Lindquiste about the ins and outs of this ailment. Ms. Lindquisite is a licensed clinical psychologist and a noted medical writer. She aims to help individuals boost and understand their mental health better. 

Q1. What is bipolar disorder in the simplest terms? 

A: A friend of mine was troubled with her husband’s increased bouts of moodiness that got worse with time. She had passed it off as work stress. Under my insistence, she convinced him to a diagnosis, and yes, he had bipolar disorder. It existed since he was in his 20s, but he realized it late. 

bipolar disorder stats image

No, moodiness isn’t the other name for bipolar disorder. However, this mental illness is a condition marked by excessive emotional instability that varies from high to low. During highs, your spirits will go sky-high. 

Your thoughts will run recklessly all over the place, and you could also get irritable. Contrastingly, your spark goes down during your lows, and you’ll see a dip in your energy level. 

You’ll lose interest in activities, and a sense of depression and emptiness could grip you. I hope this sounds okay, and bipolar doesn’t seem like jargon now. 

Q2. How do I know if I have bipolar disorder? 

A: It’s the symptoms that will help you understand and identify bipolar disorder. Fluctuating emotions don’t always mean that you have a mental illness. There are umpteen reasons why your spirits could vary from good to bad throughout the day. 

That doesn’t mean you have this condition. But there’s a thin line that distinguishes the regular change in emotions you have due to emotional hassles and the ones aroused by bipolar disorder. Let me run you through some of the traits of this mental problem.

When you have a combination of them for quite some time, do not delay seeking a counselor’s assistance. Here are some of the signs: 

  • Decreased energy 
  • Intense mood swings (varying from periods of high spirits to moments of lessened activity and depression)
  • Concentration and memorizing issues 
  • Sleep issues (either oversleeping or insomnia) 
  • Restlessness or subdued behavior 
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, emptiness, and worthlessness 
  • Lessened appetite 
  • Hallucinating 
  • Illogical thoughts 
  • Self-doubt 
  • Indulging in disastrous activities. These may include spending recklessly on expensive or unaffordable things. 
  • Increased irritability (that can manifest into anger and transition into intense rage) 

Q 3. I was just reading about the stages of bipolar. All of them seemed too complex. Does bipolar have stages? 

A: Yes, bipolar disorder does have stages, which don’t occur in a sequence, though. Let’s look at the three stages at first: 

  1. Early stage – This is much before the intense change in temper starts. Your behavior and attitude will begin to change, not massively, though. You will even have associated traits like difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and depression. 
  1. Acute stage –  The fluctuating emotions are intense, fluctuating from high-energy episodes to complete depression or a combination of both.
  1. Maintenance stage – In this phase, the attempt lies to stabilize your mind frame and control your signs through therapy and medications. 
Three types of bipolar disorder image

The mood episodes in this illness are categorised into three phases. 

  1. Mania – It’s an episode of highs where your vigor is at its peak. You are on an emotional high, which could sometimes lead to increased irritability and other symptoms like: 
  • Feeling overjoyed
  • Easily distracted
  • Feeling of importance 
  • Irritated or agitated easily
  • Impulsive behavior, to the extent of hurting others feelings 
  • Talking erratically, suddenly, or quickly 
  • Racing thoughts 
  • Pleasure-seeking behaviors (alcohol abuse, drug use, etc.) 
  • Trouble falling asleep

A notifying indication of bipolar disorder, mostly seen during manic events, is a sudden inclination towards spirituality or practicing religious activities. I had seen someone doing this from close quarters, which inspired me to begin exploring the spiritual roots of bipolar disorder and writing about the same. 

This occurrence could come in the way of a person’s daily life and could require hospitalization in extreme cases. 

  1. Hypomania 

    Hypomania is similar to lunacy, with less severe signs than the latter. An episode of hypomania doesn’t last for more than four days consecutively, as opposed to mania, whose duration is at least a week.

  1. Depressive 

    The depressive phase is the reverse of madness, where you are going through a low phase. As per research, depressive periods go on for a longer span than hypomania or mania. The average span is about a fortnight, but sometimes, it could go on for a couple of months. Some of the common signs one could encounter during a depressive episode include:

  • Insomnia
  • Lessened appetite 
  • Low spirits
  • Guilt feeling 
  • Feeling hopeless and worthless 
  • Immense sadness 
  • Lacking interest in activities that were enjoyed previously 
  • Concentration issues 
  • Suicidal thoughts 

There can even be mixed episodes – a combination of mania and depression occurring together. 

Did You Know?
Bipolar disorder can also affect children. 

Q 4. Can bipolar marriages last? 

A: If your spouse has bipolar disorder, that doesn’t mean your marriage won’t last at all. Yes, there could be tough times and rough patches, especially during the occurrence of lunacy and depression. The challenge could heighten if both partners have mental issues. For the relationship to work, couple counseling is necessary. 

bipolar disorder stats image

The above image shows the gender statistics of bipolar disorder.

The other day, I was counseling a young couple where the man had bipolar disorder. After a few sessions, the lady told me that she had stopped taking offense at the abusive words her husband used when he was in his highs. 

Post that episode, he would be a changed man again. Couple counseling often helps the other partner who doesn’t have bipolar disorder to develop a better understanding of the spouse’s condition. 

Q 5. Can bipolar disorder in your spouse lead to a divorce? 

A: I just mentioned the possibility of marriages lasting when there’s an understanding between the spouses. However, when one of the spouses has bipolar disorder, maintaining a relationship could be challenging, especially when the partner with the alarming signs refuses to carry on with the medical treatment. 

A friend once said that she tried hard, but at one point, she felt like a caretaker in their relationship. Then, she decided to call it quits on a good note. 

An Australian lawyer friend told me that of the cases she received, about nine of the ten marriages with one partner having this concern ended in divorce. That’s pretty unfortunate. Yet, I would say that I have seen those marriages working as well, though it needs a lot of effort from both partners. 

Q 6. Do bipolar men have problems with sex? 

A: I was going through a study in a journal the other day that mentioned men with this disease have higher chances of erectile dysfunction. 

The sexual desires vary in the manic and depressive episodes, from increased sex drive to disinterest in sex. Another journal also indicated that sexual distress is common in women with mental concerns.


Learn about bipolar disorder with Becky Lindquiste image

Living with a person with bipolar could be challenging, not impossible, though. You cannot cure this illness, but with proper treatment and therapies, it can be managed considerably. We hope Ms. Lindquisite’s interview will give you a more detailed insight into bipolar disorder and its symptoms.