I was describing the physical pain of bipolar disorder to a friend of mine and she acted surprised. She said, with great shock, “It physically hurts?”
Yes, bipolar disorder is about physical pain as much as it is about mental anguish.
Physical Pain and Bipolar Disorder
I have a big problem with the physical pain of bipolar disorder. I tend to be depressed, of course, and that’s where the physical pain comes in for me.
What happens to me is this:
I sit on my couch, writing on my laptop, watching television, brushing my cats and so on. I spend hours doing this every day as I work at home, mostly, as a writer and social media consultant (when I’m not speaking). When I get up from the couch to get a glass of water, I stand upright and walk the few paces to my kitchen and the pain of depression hits me like a brick, fucking wall. I mean, really. It feels like I’m being, physically, tortured. The pain is in my muscles and joints. I almost cry in the few minutes it takes me to do what I have to do and get back to the couch. It’s not like when I’m sitting the pain isn’t there, it’s there, but it’s bearable. When I get up, the pain of bipolar becomes absolutely unbearable.
I Can’t Explain the Physical Pain of Bipolar
I can’t explain the physical pain of bipolar disorder. Maybe I wouldn’t even believe in it – if I didn’t have to live with it all the time, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I do have to live with it. What I know is that the physical pain of bipolar and depression is real.
Physical Pain in a Mood Disorder Makes No Sense – Or Does It?
In one respect, this makes no sense at all, after all, bipolar is a mood disorder, not a pain disorder. While depression hurts, that pain is emotional. Isn’t it?
On the other hand, the physical pain of bipolar does make sense when you consider that bipolar disorder is a brain disorder. A brain disorder. Brain. The thing that processes all the signals from your body. Of course if your brain is misinterpreting emotional signals, there is no reason that it wouldn’t misinterpret physical, pain signals as well.
Handling the Physical Pain of Bipolar Disorder
I wish I had some sage advice to give you on the dealing with the physical pain of bipolar disorder, or perhaps, something shiny and happy to say with regards to the disappearance of said symptoms with some magic technique – but I don’t. What I know is that when the depression is worse, the physical pain is worse too. And I know that the best I can do is to ignore it. Meditation and deep relaxation techniques do help too – momentarily. And I know that lying still feels better. And I know that distracting myself from the pain (like when I’m out with friends) helps too. But none of those things are even close to a magic bullet. And when I’m severely depressed, I know I won’t just be crying because of some mood disturbance, I’ll also be crying because my bones ache.
About Natasha Tracy
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.