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Living with bipolar, depression

 Close-up of a man clasping hands with the elbows leaning on his knees. [istockphoto]

October 10, 2023, was World Mental Health Day and this year the focus was on depression and mental health awareness.

Two per cent of the world live with bipolar disorder which encompasses depression and mania (an extremely unstable euphoric or irritable mood along with an excess activity or energy level).

The exact cause of the disorder is unknown, however, genetic factors have been linked to it as well as triggers such as trauma (death in the family, a breakdown of a relationship, physical or emotional abuse) and/or a chemical imbalance in the brain, according to the National Health Service.

Studies have shown that people with bipolar tend to be more creative than their peers and are overrepresented in the arts and humanities.

These include some international superstars like actress Selena Gomez and musician Mariah Carey as well as some of our homegrown stars and top Kenyan creatives including rugby star and content creator Dennis Ombachi as well as former Citizen TV reporter Kimani Mbugua.

Bipolar is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another. However, the experience is uniquely personal and no two people can have the same experience.

The condition is categorised into two; Bipolar I and Bipolar II. The main difference is the severity of the symptoms. People with bipolar I experience more severe highs (mania) and may not have depressive episodes while people with bipolar II experience a less severe high (hypomania).

Their diagnosis includes depressive episodes. Bipolar 1 and 2 can look very similar, but there's one key difference: People with bipolar 1 have at least one episode of mania in their lifetime, while people with bipolar 2 do not. During a manic episode, people with bipolar 1 also tend to have more severe symptoms that disrupt their daily life.

"I keep telling people, it's just like any other disease, like diabetes. Once you're on your medication, life goes back as normal. But for your mind to be able to get back to the stage it used to be takes quite a while and it needs it needs help. You need someone to talk to. You need someone to coach it, the way you coach the body." -."- Dennis Ombachi

"It is possible to live well, feel well, and also find happiness with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness." -Demi Lovato

Until recently, I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me. It was too heavy a burden to carry, and I simply couldn't do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me, and I got back to doing what I love." - Mariah Carey

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