Is This Bipolar, or Just Burnout?

Alex Turner
9 min readNov 2, 2019

Emotional Turmoil, Mental Health & Daily Practices — the Subtle Differences Between Burnout & Bipolar, from an Enneagram 4

Photo by Eutah Mizushima on Unsplash

This week I got bogged down — badly.

I got through it by the skin of my teeth, and so I’d actually sat down to write a pithy article, “5 Quick Tips on Getting Unstuck,” or something else along those lines, but what transpired on the page made me recoil in horror.

Yeah. A tricksy mental health stigma showed up and stared me down.

You see, I’m a Type 4 on the Enneagram — which means I can swing wildly from sheer joy to deep despair — and back to joy again — in a matter of minutes. It’s emotional turmoil.

And it’s par for the course — so I think it’s all normal.

I’ve got pretty comfortable with it — to what would apparently be most people’s discomfort. I’m pretty comfortable with those deep dark, intense emotions. And also the nicer, lighter, brighter ones... Hurrah.

It’s really not that abnormal for me to bounce up and down between them several times a day.

Are you thinking it yet?

This rollercoaster is not as exactly what I picture of when I think of balance, but in the last couple of years, I have learned that it’s how I am. I learned to roll with it, somewhat.

However, while it does have some perks, all that emotional bouncing up and down can get exhausting, and sometimes I don’t have the energy for it — and I think that’s where I came unstuck this week.

But as I began to write out what this week’s experiences, and some of my “top tips” for pulling through, I began to doubt myself.

It was beginning to sound, in the written word, an awful lot like… bipolar disorder. I had to stop and think.

Wait …..Could it be ….?

Fear rose up in me. Stigma tried to stifle me.

Of course, I’ve been down this path with my doctor. I’ve been down this path with Dr. Google many, many more times. (I love WebMD).



Alex Turner

Founder, feminist, entrepreneur, coffee + self care