Experience with bipolar depression? - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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Experience with bipolar depression?

MotherOfBears profile image
9 Replies

I’ve been posting a lot on here about managing depression after a PP episode. Just wondering if anyone else on here has a bipolar diagnosis and had depression? Mine is rapid cycling - I have a week or two of moderate to severe depression, and then a couple of weeks where I level out.

This is all new to me and would love to know if anyone else has experienced the same? I am now at the target dose of a mood stabiliser it it doesn’t seem to have had an impact.

9 Replies
Rachel_at_APP profile image

Evening MotherOfBears,

I’m afraid I don’t have any experience of a bipolar diagnosis to share, but I know some other users of the forum might be able to share some insight from their own.

I wonder if you’d be able to perhaps talk through your thoughts on this with your medical professionals too to see what they think? Maybe having a look at the Bipolar UK website could be helpful before your next conversation with your health professionals: bipolaruk.org/ Just an idea. Just because you’re having up and down patches, it doesn’t mean you have bipolar. Might be worth writing a diary of your mood and feelings, perhaps that would help too with conversations with doctors.

Take care, and thinking of you. Rachel x

Pikorua profile image

Good Morning MotherOfBears,

my routine starts short after 6am, sending big man off and getting my son ready for school.

As you may remember I have had PPP 12 yrs ago and was sectioned for several months and the experience was extremely traumatising until my partner managed to get me out of this Psychiatric Unit, which had to be "refurbished" in 2011. There had been 3 explained and 3 unexplained cases of deaths in 2010. Yep, I feel like a survivor as so many mums on this site.

Luckily I found APP 6 yrs after PPP as I still was struggling so much with my mental health. I became stronger and managed to let go of my care co-ordinator after 8 yrs and organised a second opinion with Professor Ian Jones, who eventually gave the diagnosis of Bipolar 1.

You will find quite a few women, who either had a disposition of BP or already lived with BP when suffering with PPP.

I've learnt so much from APP and individuals, and love the peer support we give to each other. It takes time to digest the diagnosis and to find people, who are on the same wave lengths or finding friends and family members, who accept and understand what challenges there might be when living with BP and how it affects your loved once.

In my view point it is important to be open minded about choices of treatment and the type of support you select. Our needs are so diverse. 2 yrs ago I enroled into a great BP course with Cardiff University, where you could learn and understand about BP: The Bipolar Education Programme Cymru (BEPC) has been running for the last 10 yrs and has close links with Bipolar UK, it is a condensed course from 11 to 6 weeks online.

Stressors are difficult for me and I lead a very protected life style. I focus on projects and pursue things in life , which give me lots of pleasure such as art or practicing reiki, which also means helping and supporting family and friends at my own pace, volunteering and learning helps me with my mind racing. I love gardening and nature!

It takes a while to understand your triggers and finding your way of scaffolding coping mechanisms. The lows are much harder to cope with, but I must admit my hyper mania is often more than 2 weeks and then exhaustion kicks in...I usually need a week's rest per month.

My choice is a very alternative style, where I implement healing modalities and taking plant medicine, CBD. I qualified in art therapy and always applied it for self healing, the same with Reiki, Yoga and daily meditation.

The biggest struggles I have are people, as I struggle with social and agora phobia in a sense, - part of my spectrum. This year I am trying a bit of exposure therapy. I set up an art group. We met for the first time online...I also found a meditation group, but also connect with people from the EU and America for Reiki inspired programmes and giving and receiving Reiki, but also meditate for world peace. Everything takes time and effort and is done at my own pace...happy to be in touch with you on private chat...remember our needs are important and it is not easy to figure out...I feel so grateful to be able to discover my authentic self and have a moral compass which suits my life style.

Look after yourself,

mums will be in touch with you :-)

Naomi_at_app profile image

Hi dear MotherOfBears

Is it fairly recently that you've received your diagnosis of bipolar disorder? I wasn't diagnosed until I was 40, and it definitely took me a long time to understand that for me the main feature has been depression rather than the full-blown mania that I only had in my first episode of PP. Now that I'm a bit more 'tuned in' to myself I certainly notice periods of higher energy and less sleep but it was easy in the beginning to just assume that was my natural state!

In the years in between starting my family at 29 and my diagnosis, I'd had recurrent episodes of depression which had seemed quite difficult to treat. The good news is that after my diagnosis and support from both a specialist pharmacist and an occupational therapist, I've had no episodes of depression for 8 years...

I found the specialist pharmacist helpful as there were a range of mood-stabilising options that I hadn't known about before, and I was also able to combine this with an antidepressant.

As Pikoura mentions, for many of us medication isn't the be-all and end-all of how to live well with our bipolar diagnosis. A few helpful things I've developed over the years have been tending to my needs for rests in the daytime if I'm not sleeping well; self-compassion meditation (there are lots of free meditations on Chris Germer's website if you Google him!)

I love spending time in nature especially through wild swimming (the cold water feels like a good 're-set' for me mentally, and the companionship of new friends through swimming has been a big part of feeling less isolated in my depression)

Wishing you well


Maria_at_APP profile image

Hi MotherOfBears, I feel for you going through the lows at the moment. I had a diagnosis of bipolar last year and since then I experienced some mild to moderate depression and a mixed episode at Christmas. I am still recovering a bit from that. My high episodes tend to be more short lived than my depression, the first ones tend to be a couple of weeks and the depression is usually months. We are all very individual in our presentation and I am on the learning curve to recognize my early signs. And to learn to work with my mood, if I am on a high I take on more projects at home, but keeping an eye on the spending as I can get carried away. When I am on the lows I try to read more, cocoon with my loved ones and remember the great people that I have in my life. Everything that can wait I delay it to the time when I will feel more centered. I retreat into myself a bit, but that is not neccessarily a bad thing, I try to go with the flow as much as possible, without it affecting my day to day too much.

Pikoura and Naomi have shared great resources so far, and I will also add that Bipolar UK has some local support groups that meet once a month. I have been to one of the meetings for my local one and have been trying to juggle the childcare to restart it this year. Maybe that could be another avenue to explore for you if there is one that meets nearby you?

The network of support that is APP is cornerstone to managing my mood as well, just sharing tips and experiences is quite the privilege. I do so love our cafe groups, it recharges me when I meet with such like minded, amazing, brave women. If you have not been to one, I will really recommend you trying, even if u are not feeling 100%, specially then I would say.

Take good care, we are all here present for you.

SJSharks profile image

Hi MotherOfBears,

I was diagnosed with bipolar as a teenager but it wasn’t until the birth of my son that I dealt with on and off depression.

There were a lot factors though. Like I mourned not getting the postpartum experience I had pictured in my head. I was sad I didn’t get to breastfeed. The moment my son turned one I no longer gave him a bottle and just like I was cured.

Initially coming home from the hospital I was on two medications and I knew they were not working. My psychiatrist insisted on uping my dosage but I refused and requested a different medication. Once I started that medicine I felt a lot better. I still got sad periodically but it wasn’t nearly what it was initially. So perhaps you can try a different medicine?

I also started attending weekly therapy when my son was three months. Then when he was 11 months I found a weekly online group that was for moms that experienced postpartum psychosis. Up until then I felt so isolated like this was something that only happened to me. It was so nice no longer feeling alone. Here’s the website.


What honestly helped me the most though is having my son. I wanted to be in bed all day but because I had a baby I had to get up and do things. It would have been so much worse if I didn’t have that motivation.

I hope you feel better. It is normal with bipolar to have those up and downs.

Glamaw profile image

I had ppp in 2016 with anxiety and depression, and in 2020 I was diagnosed bipolar type I and had severe mixed episodes of mania, depression, and become catatonic during a 2 month inpatient stay. The doctors tried many different medications and finally found that early rounds of ECT (electro convulsive therapy) helped tremendously to pull me out of the catonia and slowly I started to pull out the the depression. I continued with ECT for about 4 months and have found that Latuda works for me. I can say that I have been stable for 2 years without any depressive, manic, or mixed episodes. Sleep, active lifestyle, mindfulness activities, and being around people whom love and support me are how I manage my day to day.

I hope you start to feel better soon and learn about to adapt life with this new diagnosis!

Kat_at_APP profile image

Dear MotherOfBears

Just adding my voice to all the wonderful words above. I was diagnosed BP1 during my inpatient admission for PP back in 2012/13. It did explain quite a lot. I don’t experience the rapid cycling, but I do tend to have periods of hypomania followed by some longer depressions. I’ve also had another psychotic episode, that I think was triggered by stress.

The diagnosis itself has its pros and cons. On the plus side, it has been helpful in accessing treatment (for example some group ACT therapy last year, which was quite interesting). On the negative, I feel it can stereotype us a little bit. As others have said we are all so different!! For me I’m quite happy to take my low dose of quetiapine and also Mirtazapine to help balance me out. But the main thing is lots and lots of regular exercise. And also a very supportive workplace and a good work - life balance.

Reducing stress is of course much easier said than done! But do have a think about what things in your life you find worthwhile and motivating and what things are sapping your energy and bringing you down. Focus more and more of your time and energy on the former, and gradually cut out the latter. We all only have one lifetime here and it’s too darn short to spend it struggling.

Just my tuppence worth 😊

All my best wishes

Kat x

Creativeyellow profile image

Hi, how are you feeling? I had PPP back in Feb 2021 and was diagnosed with bipolar at the end of my three week stay with my daughter in the MBU.

More recently though, my psychiatrist has stated I also have mood instability which is a trait of BPD, although I don't currently have a diagnosis of BPD, just traits. I guess like a spectrum.

My moods fluctuate daily, weekly and monthly, with depressive episodes being the main concern of mine.

I have been on a mood stabilizer since September 2022 and it took quite a bit of tweaking to get me onto the dose I currently have, where I take a larger amount before bed and then a smaller amount in the morning. I definitely notice a difference in feeling more depressed in the day if I forget to take the morning dose occasionally.

Perhaps if you don't already, could you ask for your dose to be split into two different times of the day?

Hope this helps, you're not alone! I'm new to this forum and really think the support here is wonderful, so glad to have found it.

All the best 😊

MotherOfBears profile image
MotherOfBears in reply to Creativeyellow

thanks, all useful things to think about. I’m starting to realise it will take a while yet until I’m recovered and will need tweaks along the way. Currently I’m in my good phase which is a relief, but also scared of the next wave and how bad it will be

And yes this forum is amazing - so supportive and informative

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