Sometimes CFS Feels Like Bipolar Disorder to Me

There have been many times during the past 20 years that I have been sick with ME/CFS that I have wondered if maybe I have bipolar disorder.  I will have many times over the years where I have experienced the extreme highs of energy and where I can’t sit still only to be hit with the debilitating fatigue and the lows of ME/CFS that make me feel like a totally different person. 

When I am feeling really well, which doesn’t happen very often, I am so excited about life.  I want to take on the world, I make plans to do all sorts of things, and I fully intend on doing all of them.  Then the bottom falls out of my world, the CFS sucks the life out of me, and everything I wanted to do just a few days before no longer holds any excitement for me.  Everything that I was hoping and dreaming to accomplish all of a sudden seems overwhelming and too big to tackle – even for a type A like me. 

For a short time, I can pretend to be a normal person and I console myself with the fact that this is probably who I really would be if it weren’t for the CFS and other problems.  The high is so good that I don’t sleep and I don’t want to sleep because I don’t want to miss out on any time feeling well.  Feeling well is such a fleeting moment for so many of us that when we have a taste of it, we crave it immensely and want it to last on and on.

When the CFS crash hits, it is as if those days never existed and all I can concentrate on is how bad I feel.  I hate life, I hate everything.  I just want to sleep and hope that when I wake up it will all be better.  But it’s not.  The crashes take longer and longer to recover from the older I get and they seem to come closer and closer together.   Here is a brief excerpt from a bipolar website on the symptoms of bipolar disorder:

Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) causes serious shifts in mood, energy, thinking, and behaviorfrom the highs of mania on one extreme, to the lows of depression on the other. More than just a fleeting good or bad mood, the cycles of bipolar disorder last for days, weeks, or months. And unlike ordinary mood swings, the mood changes of bipolar disorder are so intense that they interfere with your ability to function.

The main difference I feel is that I never have any periods where I feel well for weeks or months, as in people with bipolar disorder.   I may have a few days occasionally where I feel on top of the world and at these times it is when the crashes are even harder to deal with. 

Depression is normal in people with chronic illnesses like CFS.  I have been dismissed many times as just having depression when it was so much more than that.  But bipolar disorder is a whole different story from depression.  I have been told by my husband and others that I am like two totally different people at times.   I feel like two people most of the time.  Normal just isn’t in the cards for me, however.

If you liked this article, please share.
Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on StumbleUpon0Email this to someone


  1. I have fibro, lupus, and Bipolar Disorder II. What I’ve learned is that it’s really important to look back at the times in your life before your disease started to intrude. I always had periods of mild depression punctuated by stretches when I felt great and was super energetic. My whole life, I’ve had an inability to fall asleep at night because I couldn’t “turn off” my brain — even when I’m so fatigued from the fibro or the lupus that I literally can’t move a muscle. In addition, people often have a hard time keeping up with me when I talk because I sometimes talk very quickly or because the thoughts come one after another. That can happen even when I feel awful.

    So, take that into account when trying to make a decision. Your body may feel awful, but it’s your brain that counts when making a determination about Bipolar Disorder. Does your brain often go from depression to zipping around from thought to thought? If so, you should consider seeing your PCP for a quick eval and a possible referral to a mental health practitioner.

    I’ve got new meds now. (Like I need new meds.) And my depression is so much improved. Everyone comments on how much better I seem, and they all just think it’s a physical improvement. I have had quite a bit of physical improvement, but it’s because my brain’s improved so much.

    Peace be with you and prayers for good health.

  2. I have recently been diagnosed with Rapid Cycling Bi-polar Disorder, or Cyclothymic Disorder. With this your moods and switch literally hours between another. Maybe you should consider asking your doctor about this, as everything you have spoken about I have and do experience myself.


  3. Louie Kiss says:

    Ive been seeing a biodoctor that links bipolar and cfs with mthf gene disorder. It causes your methylation cycle not to work properly. Ive trsted positive and all the literature makes sense

Join the Discussion.

We'd love to hear from you - leave a comment below