Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).
I am sorry to know you have been undergoing this problems, as well as how your family have been suffering of depression.
Anybody who experiences mood swings, depressive mood, and suicidal ideation, doe shave enough concerns justifying professional psychological support.
For a person to have bipolar disorder, both manic or hipomanic - highs- and depressive mood episodes need to be present. These mood swings are not exclusively caused by any external situation, but the person just finds himself suffering of these changes and feeling overwhelmed by them, which do deeply undermine from mood, to functioning and relationships.
Could you tel me more about your experience, about these symptoms and why you think you have bipolar disorder?
Sure. I have always known that I am a bit different from others. The difference now is the fact that my down-periods are affecting my daily life. I often feel a lack of appetite and energy, I feel like I am worthless and even in the things I do well, I find someone who is better and brighter. I usually get very good grades, but in my down-periods I somehow get sad and chastise myself. This week I got the top grade on a very important text, I made literally no mistakes, and it still made me feel sad and worthless. However, when I am in a good mood I feel as if I can accomplish anything. I make plans for the future, and dream big. In these moments I truly believe that I can achieve almost anything, and that I am likeable and talented. I often begin projects (reading many books at the same time, writing and so on). A bit lengthy, perhaps, but that is the reason why I think I am bipolar.
For how long have you been experiencing these highs and lows and how long do they last;since they started to appear have they always been there affecting you?
They have always been affecting me, but I used to get angry and extremely emotional. I am a bit more restrained and brooding now. The experience that is somewhat new is the feeling of my mind being irrational (like getting a good grade and actually feeling worse). These stretches sometimes last a few weeks, but it feels as if my high-periods last a bit shorter.
I see. Then it seems clear to me that you need to get a complete mental assessment, specially because of how down and suicidal you feel during the depressive episodes. If anybody just tell me that he-she has been feeling depressed for long periods of time, without other symptoms, I would always recommend a mental evaluation leading to counseling or psychotherapy. In your case it is obvious to me that you need adequate professional support in order to get the stability, enjoyment and well-being in your life that you long for and deserve.
I agree. Is it possible to feel sad and happy at the same time, though? I have been meeting a girl I like, and with her I am happy and optimistic, yet my mind keeps saying that I have already blown it; that I am not good enough. Is that a symptom of bipolar disorder?
Both mania and depressive symptoms could happen at the same time, that is correct, but again, there is no way to know for sure if these are in fact symptoms of bipolar disorder or consequence of other type of mood - depressive -anxiety disorder, that's why evaluation is so important to find out, and counseling - psychotherapy essential for you to work on rehabilitating from it.
If you happen to have bipolar disorder, many times medication could make a big difference, and this is one disorder that as a professional I believe could be in fact necessary to allow the person to have a stable mood, avoid serious crisis and life issues, as well as to work on self and benefit from psychotherapy (I do not suggest the use of psychiatric drugs to anybody unless presenting serious mental illness - symptoms like in cases of psychotic disorders and bipolar).
Right. I think it is important to have some kind of counseling at least. I had not fully decided on seeing a psychiatrist, but now I am certain. Thank you very much.
You're very welcome. Please set your health and well-being as number one priorities in your life, since without them nothing could be totally accomplished not enjoyed. Take gentle care and consistent action.