Living with Bipolar II Disorder


A woman sitting on the couch.Mental health awareness is so important as a mother.

Before I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, I was misdiagnosed with major depression for years. It wasn’t until my doctor asked me if I ever had periods of elevated mood, unusual feelings of enthusiasm, or happiness. He was describing how I felt at times; I said, “Yes, this is exactly what happens! I just thought I was feeling better.”

He was astonished. When he said the word Bipolar; I sank in my seat. Having heard about its notorious reputation my whole life, I was scared. I had so many questions.

I learned that Bipolar II Disorder is less severe than Bipolar I Disorder, although it is harder to diagnose and easier to miss. I also learned that it could manifest differently for everyone. While my hypomania episodes manifest in extreme happiness, cheerfulness, and hyperactivity, for others, it can be irritable moods, self-destructive behavior, and even self-harm.

I’m in remission now, another thing I didn’t think possible. I feel normal. Events proportionately affect me. I react to others and my thoughts and memories in an understandable way. My mind is clear. I’m able to perform my daily tasks with ease. I can focus better (well, sort of).

I feel sad and happy like any other person, but I don’t dwell on the negatives, blow things out of proportion, or exaggerate the way I think (of course, I don’t mean to do any of that when I’m depressed; it just happens).

But when I have it actively, I have long periods of depression. The depressive mood can last during a portion of the day, like right when I wake up or before I go to sleep, or even at random times during the day. It can also be present all day, every day, for weeks, and even months with decreased activities, a lack of interest in everything that I used to enjoy, and sleep disturbances.

But then there are those rosy, bright, happy days when I’m in a fantastic mood and everything seems possible. I feel like I can conquer the world and spread my positivity. During those short bursts of energy, I also need less sleep, and my mind races with ideas and thoughts. It’s like I’m trying to make up for those days lost to depression. The thing is, I like these periods; I thrive in them. The sad thing is they don’t last long.

Before my diagnosis, I thought those hypomania episodes were me getting back to normal. After the diagnosis, I was so confused for a long time that I couldn’t identify if my “good mood” were just me or another hypomania episode (I was supposed to keep track of my episodes).

How do I differentiate between the two? Did Bipolar Disorder take over my personality? Can I achieve what I can during hypomania on my own? Yes, it isn’t very clear, to say the least. And the answer so far is sadly NO; my normal self is nothing like my hypomania self.

Now that I’m in remission with a stable mood, I understand that when I do something positive like playing the drums, writing an article, or cleaning the house, I know it’s me doing those things and not being driven by a mysterious force.

The good thing about remission is that I don’t have this dark pit inside of me, but I miss my hypomanic self sometimes. She is fun, someone I’d like to get to know better. She is unstoppable, fearless, and creative. Too bad they both are inseparable; they must come together. Still, I will take a remission any day with open arms.

I may have a positive outlook now that I’m in remission (I hope it lasts a while longer), but while my mind is clear, I can say with confidence that it’s manageable with the proper treatment.

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Donia is a stay-at-home Egyptian archaeologist who majored in Egyptology. Egyptology had always been her passion since childhood. But family is her biggest passion. She lives in Mount Kisco with her husband Ayman, their daughters Dania (2005) and Mirette (2012), their cats Tiger and Drogo, and their German Shepherd Max. She is also a stepmom to two girls Nada (1991) and Malak (1995). When she is not busy taking care of her big family, she enjoys anything Sci-Fi and fantasy, watching cooking and baking competition shows, playing the drums, playing tennis with her husband, video games, and DIY projects. According to her girls, she particularly enjoys event and travel planning for her family and always goes all-out and prepares too much for an event. She is excited to join Westchester County Mom to share her experience as an expat and mom.


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