If you have bipolar disorder, you may experience some very strange thoughts and behaviors at times.  You may even ask yourself, "Is it the bipolar or is it me?"  If this has happened to you, then you are not alone.  This is a common question for people who have bipolar disorder.


Bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance of the brain.  It is also classified as a mood disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), put out by the American Psychiatric Association, and through which you were probably diagnosed.


One of the characteristics of the disorder is distorted thinking.  You may feel as if you cannot control your own thoughts, decisions, or ideas.  You may not even be able to turn off the thoughts or ideas in your head sometimes.  You may have thoughts that seem "crazy" to you, yet you cannot stop thinking them.  You may even have thoughts of death and suicide.


One of the characteristics of a bipolar manic episode is risk-taking behavior, such as: excessive spending; risky driving; impulsive decisions; rash or foolish business ventures; gambling; or substance abuse.  A manic episode may also include: delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there), paranoia, agitation, or even violence. 


In a bipolar depressive episode, you may feel sad, lonely, isolated, guilty, helpless, hopeless, and even suicidal.  These are just part of the depression.


The problem is that the distorted thinking comes from the bipolar disorder, and NOT you!  Yet because it is internal, it can cause you to question, "Is it the bipolar or is it me?"


A bipolar episode can cause you to act in ways you would not normally act.  Just ask yourself:


·         Would I normally spend money excessively?

·         Would I normally drive recklessly?

·         Would I normally make impulsive decisions?

·         Would I normally invest in foolish business ventures?

·         Would I normally gamble?

·         Would I normally abuse drugs or alcohol?

·         Would I normally experience delusions, hallucinations, or paranoia?

·         Would I normally be a violent person?

·         Do I normally feel sad, lonely, isolated, guilty, helpless, and hopeless?

·         Am I normally suicidal?


If you answered "No" to most/all of the above queries, then you have answered your own question.  The answer is that it is the bipolar, and NOT you, that makes you behave this way. 


Although you can experience long periods of stability during which your thoughts seem very rational to you and your behavior certainly normal, a bipolar episode can cause you to act in ways that you normally wouldn't.