Bipolar Induced Cognitive Impairment

The scariest day of my bipolar life was Wednesday, May 14th, 2008. A day I will never forget, nor repeat. That day I learned first hand what bipolar generated cognitive impairment was all about.

At nine in the morning, I went into my office to read reports from the past few days of operations. I remember picking up the first report and reading the first few lines and then…. At five one of my staff came in to ask if I was coming to brief the afternoon shift. I was still holding that first report in my hand and eight hours had elapsed. I had no memory of that time and still don’t.

I feigned illness and left. The problem, I really had no idea where I was to go. I couldn’t remember where I lived. I just sat in my car, scared and getting angrier by the second.

My staff called my wife, who came and got me and took me home.

That day started the process towards my proper diagnosis of Bipolar 1 disorder almost a year to the day later, Tuesday, May 12th, 2009.

Bipolar generated cognitive impairment is real and it is scary for anyone that has experienced it.

Sometimes it is subtle, by that I mean we are not aware of it, like when we ask the same question over and over. When we tell the same story six times in a row. At those times those around us see it, but we don’t.

Sometimes we blame other known parts of our bipolar like when we have difficulty planning and carrying out tasks, blaming our anxiety or depression. When our irritability reaches all time highs, irritability and rage are part of being bipolar. When we make bad judgment calls on important issues that affect our lives, like cashing in all our retirement savings to buy a truck we don’t need. Those kind of bad judgment calls is part of mania.

Then there are the issues that have no other explanation. When we accidentally drive into the back of the car in front of us because we thought we were at least six feet away. When all we hear is a buzzing sound or it sounds like the speaker is miles away. When we can’t remember, not just where we put the car keys but the entire car or where we live. When we lose incredible amounts of time, like I did on that sunny day in May of 2008 and many times before. When we run into people we have known all our lives and do not recognize them or walk down to our favorite coffee shop and don’t recognize anything and can’t find the coffee shop. When we seem to have impaired ability to walk or hold objects

These are the signs and symptoms of bipolar generated cognitive impairment

Memory loss

Loss of time

Repeating questions or stories over and over to the same audience.

Difficulty planning and carrying out tasks

Vision problems – depth perception, blurred vision, tunnel vision.

Hearing problems – buzzing, hearing like the speaker is far away.

No facial recognition.

Inability to recognize places that should be familiar.

Impaired motor function

Unusual changes in moods and behavior.

Radical life choices and poor life judgment

Bipolar generated cognitive impairment is part of our bipolar illness. It most often strikes when our bipolar disorder is acute. According to a 2004 study published in Bipolar Disorder Magazine Volume 6, some of these symptoms can also be part of our illness when our illness seems to be under control. Be patient with yourself if some of these symptoms, like memory loss persist when you are stable. The inability to recall some things from prior to spring and summer of 2008, seems to be part of my life today.

When the symptoms of bipolar generated cognitive impairment became severe was not the first time I sought help, it was the first time all my symptoms lined up to prove that I was BP 1 instead of OCD. I know first hand that it is sometimes a long process to receive proper help but stick with it.  It is worth it.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.


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Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well.  This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you.  I hope you enjoy this week’s Blog created by Jonice Webb PhD

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