Bipolar emotions and my genuine emotions are two different things, even though they come from one brain. In fact, they can be two opposite things. It’s quite complicated to separate a bipolar emotion from my legitimate, organic emotion. What I often find is that the bipolar emotions are so overwhelming that my genuine emotions get drowned out. I feel like I’m trying to separate s specific drop of water from the ocean.
What Are Bipolar Emotions?
The simplest definition of bipolar emotions is this: emotions that are a result of bipolar disorder.
Okay, but that’s not the most helpful definition when you’re talking about differentiating between bipolar emotions and a person’s genuine emotions.
Bipolar emotions tend to be very strong, unrealistic, and disproportionate to the given situation. They also tend to come from and be congruent with specific mood episodes. (In other words, your emotions align with your given mood.)
A simple example is feeling sad when you’re in a depression. You may not have a reason to be sad. Everything in your life might be great. But you feel sad because bipolar has taken over your brain.
Another example is feeling grandiose when you’re hypomanic or manic. You may be an average person with an average view of yourself. You may act introverted on an average day. But on a day when you’re hypomanic or manic, you may feel like you’re a god. You may feel like you’re better than everyone else. You may feel like you’re smarter than everyone else. Again, these are not your genuine emotions and thoughts; these are bipolar emotions brought about by a sick brain.
Of course, bipolar emotions can be much more complicated than that. Bipolar emotions tend to come with friends, so it’s not as simple as identifying sadness or grandiosity. It’s more like an emotional soup where a bunch of emotions all come together and affect each other. Plus, this soup is a different flavor every time you have a bipolar episode, so even once you’ve done the work of identifying everything in one soup, another one is right around the corner.
What Are My Emotions?
It’s hard to know what my genuine emotions are, but a simple definition is my emotions are what I feel as I move through life, and that isn’t driven by bipolar disorder.
I once heard someone say that sculpting is easy. All you do is chisel away everything that isn’t the sculpture.
My genuine emotions are like that. You chisel away everything that is the bipolar emotion, and you’re left with my emotion.
While I feel this metaphor has some truth to it, it requires knowing everything that is a bipolar emotion in order to figure out what your own emotion is. That’s pretty tricky.
Separating Bipolar Emotions from My Emotions
My emotions and bipolar emotions are all mixed together in a smoothie. And, as you might imagine, extracting one flavor from a smoothie is very, very difficult.
And for me, I feel like my emotions are a tiny part of the smoothie. The bipolar emotions are the fruit, the yogurt, and the milk, whereas my emotions are just the one teaspoon of honey added at the end. And after you’ve hit frappe on your blender, how do you get the honey out of the smoothie? Can you even taste the honey with all that other stuff on top?
That herculean task is what separating my emotions from the bipolar emotions is like. While it’s no mean feat, it also isn’t impossible.
How to Separate Bipolar Emotions from My Emotions
When I look at separating bipolar emotions from my emotions, I have to think about a few things:
- Are my emotions related to the mood I’m in? Is it likely my emotions are more negative because of depression? Is it likely my emotions are more irritable because of hypomania or a mixed mood? What other symptoms (like anxiety) am I feeling’? (And keep in mind, both you and your bipolar may share responsibility for an emotion, and that’s okay. It might be 90% bipolar and 10% you. The 10% is still organic.)
- Is my emotion specifically known as a bipolar symptom? For example, guilt and hedonism (seeking excessive pleasurable activities despite negative consequences) are known bipolar symptoms.
- Is what I’m feeling reasonable, given the situation? Yes, I might be mad, but is that anger proportional to what’s happening in my environment?
- Have I experienced this type of emotion before as a part of bipolar disorder? Was it related to my mood or the situation at hand the last time?
Sometimes these questions aren’t easy to answer; after all, you have bipolar disorder, and being mixed up is part of the package, so you may need help from a loved one or therapist. You can also try meditating on the questions.
But answering the above questions will give you clues to help separate bipolar emotions from your emotions. If my answers are no, no, yes, and no, then the chances are good that the emotion I’m considering is my emotion or at least partly my emotion.
What to Do After Separating Your Emotions from Bipolar Emotions?
When I separate my emotions from bipolar emotions, and I’ve concluded that what I’m dealing with is my genuine emotion, separate from bipolar disorder, I consider taking action. For example, if I’m angry because a person lied to me, then it’s time to confront that person and tell them how I feel. If what I’m feeling is happiness, maybe my action is just to enjoy it.
If, on the other hand, I’ve separated my bipolar emotions from my emotions and determined that my emotions are likely related to the bipolar disorder more than me, then I still will likely take action. For example, if I’m angry because of a situation in my environment, but my anger is entirely out of proportion with what’s going on, I’m going to need to calm myself. I might need to take a walk, practice yoga, or even call a therapist. Any of these things or okay as long as you don’t take this emotion out on other people. Remember, bipolar-driven emotions (or emotional intensity) are not their fault.
I Need to Separate My Emotions from My Bipolar Emotions
In short, this is not merely an academic exercise. Separating your emotions from bipolar emotions allows you to act on your emotions in the appropriate way and not lash out at the people around you. If your emotion is yours, you should be acting on it — just like anyone else. Emotions drive action; it’s just about determining what the actual emotion is and what the reasonable action is to take.
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