Bipolar II (Formally Bipolar Depression) In Black Culture

Topic: Bipolar Disorder

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What is Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder symptoms are so much more than mood swings and a bad attitude that it’s frequently joked about.  It is a chemical brain disorder. According to NIMH there are four different types of bipolar disorders; Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, and Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders. All generally are associated with mood, energy, activity, and depression. However,  the most common ones are Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorder. Both of which I have researched and studied  profusely over the past 9 years since being diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder. 



The major difference between Bipolar I and Bipolar II is the manic episodes. Manic episodes in Bipolar I are very much so similar to those symptoms above, however they are considered extreme behaviors that can last for days, weeks, and months. Reckless sex, uncontrollable gambling, and spending a lot of money on things they don’t need are some of the overly indulged unhealthy behaviors that have been consistent among people living with Bipolar I disorder.


Manic episodes with Bipolar I Disorder can last a considerable amount of time, cost a considerable amount of money, and can come with a considerable amount of shame.  People living with Bipolar I can also have  major depressive episodes. However when they do occur, they aren’t nearly as severe as their mania.



Major Depression

Major depressive episodes is the primary symptom that disassociates Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorder. Like Bipolar I extreme mood level is mania, Bipolar II extreme mood level is depression. Bipolar II depression isn’t a depressive episode that you are in for a day or two and once some time has passed you snap out of it and get back to work. The depression that is common with Bipolar II is so extreme it can last for weeks and in some cases months. Generally you will have to be hospitalized to get the help you need to come out of it. 


The symptoms of depression that come with Bipolar II disorder are:

  • Feelings of worthlessness 
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Over sleeping
  • Not eating
  • Over eating
  • Absolutely no desire to do any of the things you once enjoyed doing
  • Suicidal ideation

Mania is also a symptom of bipolar II disorder, however manic episodes are typically moments of elatedness. 


Typically my mania can be pretty productive. My creativity level will be on 10 and my energy level can’t be matched. I honestly feel like there is nothing I can’t accomplish in these moments. I undergo these feelings of pure elatedness. It really is a high of happiness that is unbelievable. It’s so unbelievable that I can recognize that I am in a manic state. It’s also the time I realize that hell is near and I call that hell, depression


Truth is niece, scientist nor doctors can say for a fact what causes this disorder. It is more common for people to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder if they have parents or close family members who have it. It is also more common for people to be diagnosed with the disorder if they have a history of childhood abuse and trauma. 


In retrospect, my diagnosis isn’t a surprise. I come from parents who both suffer from a mental illness. Generally I do prefer to use “live with” when it comes to describing life with a mental illness, however from my perspective when the disorder is going untreated, people are literally suffering from the effects of the illness. As well as their family members and friends around them. 


#MyTruth is I also come from a history of childhood abuse and trauma. The abuse my brother and I endured at the hands of our parents was nothing short of reframed slavery #InRealLife. The trauma from being sexually abused from as early as 5 years old and well into my adult years would make any diagnosis of a mental disorder understandable.


A common misconception of people living with bipolar disorder is that they are quick tempered, erratic, and angry. A total buzz-kill to be around so they are to be avoided at all cost. This misconception is especially damaging in the black community. 

An environment where our pain is minimized to save face and protect the family name. Where our cries aren’t heard because we are being overly dramatic and need to get over it. An environment that struggles with acknowledging pain and labels a person who is hurting  as being weak. 


A natural response for any person in pain, especially when their pain is not being acknowledged, is to fight. Any slight sense of a threat,  our natural instinct means to protect and shield at all cost. Since, “no one listened to my cries”, or “I didn’t feel safe enough to cry”, an angry jaded wall of defense becomes a part of the being of those hurting.  But then again, as black people we don’t hurt. We keep it moving. In doing so, our community rarely acknowledges  the pain that is being shielded by “a bad attitude”.



“That’s a hell of a job for any person, male or female. To have to build an empire for your family.”` TuPac Shakur


That is why developing this community is so important to build. A place to get not only researched, professional advice but also REAL LIFE experiences when dealing with mental and emotional disorders. A place where one can relate to someone else and know they are not alone. A place where what is considered “normal” behaviors within our community and culture is countered with facts, stats, and the truth. A place where comfort is challenged and change occurs.

Thug Therapy aims to bring you relatable content aimed to awaken awareness about mental health and spark conversations about mental health in the black community. The contents of Thug Therapy Lifestyle Blog website, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on the Thug Therapy Lifestyle Blog website (“content”) are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Thug Therapy Lifestyle Blog website. The one thing we have learned in our journey to wellness and wholeness is just as we all are different, so will our treatment plans. Thug Therapy Lifestyle Blog is meant to provide a peek into the reality of someone living with depression and cptsd.

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