Descriptions of Bipolar Disorder are pretty standard across books and websites. The symptoms seem easy for anyone to understand. Unfortunately, they are not. I will be looking at each of the significant symptoms and will show what they look like on a real person. It is essential to understand them. To give you an example, what does it mean when I say that one of my most persistent symptoms is “pressured speech.” “Pressured speech,” this is not something I’d ever heard before.
I’m not a walking list of the common symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. Since a large part of mania seems to consist of going excessively fast I’m going to start right off with it. Get ready – The following information is critical to understand precisely what Bipolar Disorder is so that you can live life to the fullest. Ignorance of my condition left me without defenses and practically begs for things to go wrong. Now that I understand more about the disorder, I generally deal with it more successfully. Well, some of the time. Other times, it seems to slap me upside the head before I ever see it coming. Despite the seemingly inevitable setback, I feel like I have a fighting chance. For once, I even feel hope.
Mania – Pressured Speech
Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness where a person’s moods swing wildly from severe depression to reckless mania. Pressured speech is one loud symptom of Bipolar Disorder. I’ve repeatedly been told that I do it, but no one ever stopped to explain what it means. I had to research on my own to figure out what “pressured speech” means.
Knowledge – For me, a key to coping with any illness has always been understanding what’s wrong with me and how I can fight it. I hate seeing the same look on people’s faces when I realize that I’m my speech seems pressured. It freaks them out. It freaks me out too. It makes me realize that I’m talking crazy talk again and again and again.
“Pressured speech” is my “crazy talk.” Everyone deals with the disorder differently. Labeling pressured speech as my crazy talk is a way that I like to think I’m stuffing thoughts of being crazy into a specific behavior. When I can resist doing pressured speech I feel less crazy. I suppose that’s weird, but it seems to help me cope with it.
Some illnesses can be detected by looking at x-rays or surgically investigating a problem area. No medical test can be used to determine if I have Bipolar Disorder. I was required to meet with a medical person that I knew nothing about so that she could decide if I was eligible for disability status. She asked me some questions, and then we were done. I was labeled as disabled and given medical care. Since it only seemed to take mere minutes to determine that I have Bipolar Disorder, I wondered if I had acted excessively crazy. I tried to answer her questions honestly and without spending time trying to use wording that would influence her decision.
Whenever a person assesses me (which they regularly do to determine if I’m still eligible for mental health care), I hope that they are well versed in identifying the signs of the illness and are confident in determining if I have it or not. The first behavioral clue that screams that I have Bipolar Disorder appears to be my speech. I talk all the time. And fast. My kids tell me to stop and take a breath. Talking. I have so much to say. Okay, that isn’t a mental illness. It’s irritating, but it isn’t a mental illness. However, pressured speech can be evidence of it. Pressured speech is something that I do all the time. Even when I’m depressed, I still manage to have pressured speech. So what the heck is it?
Pressured speech is different for every person. Just about all the lists of symptoms of Bipolar Disorder will have it on them. Let me explain what it looks like in me.
People may wonder if I have Bipolar Disorder when they hear me speak too fast and sound like there is some crisis that I feel compelled to tell others about it. I can sound erratic and talk without stopping or even noticing that someone else might want to speak. I am not easy to interrupt. Often what I say is irrelevant or strange, and the person I’m talking at doesn’t know what I’m talking about. When I have pressured speech, I may not stop talking when I usually would. I act like what I’m saying is urgent and essential and it doesn’t matter whether or not the person trying to listen can follow me or not.
I seem to speak like I’m leaning into a wind, a mighty wind, and I’m bent over trying to stay standing. You could say that I am pushing a car up a hill that never ends. The pressure I apply to keep the car moving is just like the way I talk like I am pushing forward faster and harder all the time.
My speech is pressed out of me with an urgency that doesn’t even come close to the situation. It is as though I’m waving a flag in a frenzy announcing to the world that I have delusions of grandeur. What I say is of great importance even though it is often fragmented and random. I speak with urgency thinking that what have to say is so important that I have to be listened to right this very second and I have to tell everything to you all at once. All at once may mean that I’m going to talk at you for as long as I can unless someone stops me. Occasionally I can stop myself, but that’s usually when I see the listeners face and it registers with me that they seem to think that they’re being faced with listening to a crazy person.
I bet you didn’t know that pressured speech was such a complicated symptom. That’s cool. It’s also a written example of me with pressured speech. <Deep breath, sigh>
Sometimes, when I’m finally taking a little break, I realize that I’m getting tired. Pressured speech can be hard work. Listeners should try to be more understanding. Don’t you think so? <Heh>
<This is unedited and is a demonstration of pressured speech as I experience it. It may be different for another person, and it is different for me each time that I do it, which is a lot, all day long. It is meant to illustrate what people mean when they use the term “pressured speech” when talking about Bipolar Disorder.>