Dizzying highs and depressive lows are common experiences for every person as they go through life.
But for those living with bipolar disorder, sometimes known as manic depression, that spectrum of extreme emotions can be experienced from one moment to the next, without warning.
A Fife man has shared has shared his experience of living with the disorder for more than 20 years as part of Bipolar Awareness Week.
Jamie Stewart, from Newport-on-Tay, first became aware he was different from his friends and family when he was in his late teens.
Over the next five years, his condition worsened and, at the age of 23, he was diagnosed as bipolar – a disorder which manifests itself in periods of emotional highs and then depressive lows.
The 39-year-old, who works as a graphic designer, said: “I would go from being really depressed and quite distressed most of the time, to a ball of energy and nerves.
“I was the life and soul of the party, I would get loads done. Then I would go through weeks of not being able to do anything at all – it’s like you have to squeeze four weeks into two, I was constantly chasing my tail.
“It became unbearable, I wasn’t able to switch off like my friends were. When you’re young you live quite a bipolar existence, you’re going out on Friday and Saturday and then you come down from that, but I couldn’t.
“You sort of use up all your energy in a shorter time.”
“It’s the ultimate tragedy of it all really, you can be on top form and feel you can do anything and you’re just sitting watching Eastenders,” Jamie added.
“I would be jealous of friends and family and their ability to relax, you just don’t know how and when it’s going to present itself, which makes it quite hard to plan anything.
“You can be in the middle of talking to someone, and it’s like the equivalent of someone injecting you with loads of coffee through an IV drip – I know it’s happening and I don’t want it to.
“When I was young I thrived on being manic, but now I just want to fit in.”
Jamie says that the difficulty in managing and coping with the duality of the disorder was made even more difficult with the Covid-19 lockdown.
He said: “I became pretty obsessed with what was happening, watching the news all the time, I had to step away from all that, it was just about survival.
“I had to come off social media as well, even though it can be encouraging in terms of different groups, but I had to try and keep my world small.”
But Jamie is also keen to point that the disorder is not all “doom and gloom”.
He said: “There are times where if I’m manic, and I’m washing the dishes with a good tune on for example, you can feel incredible.
“There’s a lot of benefits to it, you can meet a lot of unique people. Lots of people who are bipolar are very creative and interesting people.
“And there’s the bond – if you’re in a room with 20 people who are bipolar, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t into the same music or films, you’ll have that common ground.”
Jamie is an ambassador for Bipolar Scotland which has been running regular chats during the pandemic in place of its normal meetings.
For more information on the support on offer, visit www.bipolarscotland.co.uk