So as we know being bipolar is very difficult.  There are ups and downs and also the in-betweens that are confusing and dull.  Because being bipolar is difficult should we allow it to effect the people around us in a hurtful way?  No, the answer is plain and simple.  We are not allowed to blame being bipolar on our actions and how we effect other people.  We have to own our struggle but we can also reach out and help others to understand and sometimes, tolerate us.
With that said we are in fact living lives that have different challenges than 97.4% of other people in America.  Yes, 2.6% of Americans are diagnosed bipolar.  We have to wake up everyday and wonder if our body is going to make it difficult to find joy.  We have to wake up and wonder if our brain chemistry is going to make it seemingly impossible to feel calm and easy going.  Then when we figure out what our body wants to do that day, we have to cope the entire rest of the day with what our body is doing.  We have to wrap our mind around the way our brain is firing and we have to own it.  Then at the end of the day we have to figure out how to fall asleep if we are manic, or how we are going to look forward to the next day if we are depressed.
We are not allowed to hurt the people around us just because we feel shitty, but we can however ask for help.  It is important to have people in our life who understand that we are Bipolar, but we are also our own person.  Educate your friends and family if they are willing.  If they are not willing, there is only so much support they can provide, and thats just how it is.
If I am hypomanic it lasts at least 4 days and if I am manic it lasts at least 7 days (these are the diagnostic criteria, which I fit just perfectly) and it can last for weeks and months.  Does this mean that because I am full of energy and irritability that I can lash out at people? Not at all.  I would never have friends or relationships.  Well that has personally been difficult for me.  For myself I have personally not been able to see past my manic energy to make time for other people because I have to obsessively work on projects or I am irritable and want nothing to do with people.  It is easy for me to make friends because I am very outgoing and energetic but it is difficult for me to maintain friendships when I feel like my projects are all important, everyone else gets tossed to the side.  Ive lost a lot of really cool people this way.  A way that I like to cope with this is to just make the phone call or text someone and let them know how I am doing.  I let my significant other half know that i am feeling manic and that what that means for me.  For example I may feel really good and into a project or I might be irritable and need some space.
If I am depressed, It is difficult to pick up the phone to call someone.  Nobody is around because sometimes when I have been manic I avoided them.  When I am depressed I need to reach out for help, and I feel like I would be a bourdon so it feels like there is nobody there.  I have put myself in a better position by joining a club where they keep me accountable and I have to show up to be a member of a club that I am proud to be a part of.   This has been helpful for me and my struggle to stay connected with a group of supportive people.
Regardless of how we are feeling, we need to reach out to people and stay connected in some way.  This has always been a struggle for me, but it is of upmost importance.
There have been many times in my life where I have been irritable, so many that I can’t even begin to count.  It feels as if any sound or comment or voice is nails on a chalk board.  I feel more sensitive to light and I tend to wear sunglasses even sometimes indoors.  It makes me feel a little more connected to myself and dulls the overwhelming brightness around me.  I can compare it to how it probably feels to have a bad headache or a migraine except instead of wanting to just lay in bed with my eyes closed as I would with a bad headache I want to conquer the world, or set myself on a task to spend hours on until I reach its completion.  In this manic mode I  have built entire motorcycle engines, cars, a tiny house, detailing my vehicle, rearanging my toolbox, built a chicken coop, paintings, leather crafts…and the list goes on.  But If someone were to stop me from completing my task I feel like a huge wrench gets thrown at me and I get very angry and have tended to lash out.  I have made it a point in my life to not do this, but it is never not a struggle for me.  Something I have had some success with is to tell people that I need space for a few minutes and then I will talk to them.  While I take those few minutes I am preparing myself for the conversation and taking deep breaths so that I can listen and be responsive in the most pleasant way that I can.  This is something that needs constant practice.
Thomas