Just a little trigger warning before I answer this question as I will be talking about depression and suicide ideations.
There’s a lot I wish people knew about it but the first thing would be: there’s more than one type of bipolar. A lot of the time when I speak to people they have this misconstructed vision that someone who is bipolar is someone who will have extreme mood swings in a short period of time. The reality is quite the opposite. Most of the time, bipolar is spread out in episodes that last anywhere from weeks to months. In my case, I am usually high for 2-3 weeks and then down for a few months. For your information I have a type II bipolar.
The high is what we call a manic or hypomanic episode. It is the hardest thing to explain but in a nutshell, when I am hypomanic I feel extremely confident, super energetic and on the top of the world. Oh and I spend A LOT of money… like a few thousand in a few days. Which is pretty bad for finances. These phases don’t last long for me but they can be extremely damaging for my future.
The lows are depressive episodes that manifest themselves in a similar way to a depression. So extreme sadness, crying for no reasons, feeling suicidal etc. These for me hit the hardest and the longest. It is very hard to get out of bed, I don’t take care of myself usually when I am this way (no shower, no teeth brushing etc) as it is too hard to do it.
As you can see these are contrasted episodes. The important thing to remember is the length and intensity of these will vary from episode to episode and person to person. There is not one bipolar that is the same.