My experience this week with an unstable bipolar patient has me thinking about the disorder. Bipolar disorder refers to a mood disorder in which patients experience not only severe depressions, but also episodes of mania. Mania is difficult to understand if you haven't seen it, and is truly remarkable.
You know those days where you feel like you can do anything, conquer the world? If you take your most energetic day, multiply by 10, and then snort cocaine, you've got mania. People in manic episodes can't sleep, get very delusional ("I'm the president"), and make very impulsive decisions, like spending thousands of dollars in a day. It can be a debilitating disorder. Seeing a person in an acute manic episode is awe-inspiring, if you use awe in a "holy sh*t" kind of way. I have a lot of respect for it as a disorder, the way a surgeon has respect for dead bowel.
There are a lot of people diagnosed as bipolar whom I find very non-awe-inspiring. They're impulsive. They do the things the rest of us think about but don't do, like tell off the boss, run up their credit card bills, get into barfights. The dumbasses of the world. They can't maintain relationships, keep jobs, save money, or raise their kids. In a nutshell, they act like your average teenager, well after the time when that behavior is developmentally appropriate. (This is also a good time to point out that I highly object to the frequency with which teenagers are diagnosed as bipolar.)
Now, I'm no psychiatrist, but it seems like there's a HUGE difference between these two patient populations. Shouldn't we be calling them something different?
Here's your chance, readers (all 3 of you). I propose DDMD - Dumb-Assed Decision Making Disorder.
Let's get some input! C'mon, show me some love. I don't want to have to name names.