The mental disorder bipolar used to be something that was swept under the rug in our culture, but in modern times, we are all discovering together how common it is. Some elements of our culture still wish to turn a blind eye to it and stigmatize it, but with the availability of mass media, we are identifying that people who are bipolar are our friends, family members, neighbors and coworkers. We are also learning that there is no need to stigmatize a condition like bipolar because people are able to manage it and live with it very functionally when they take their treatment for it seriously. Bipolar is a challenging condition to live with, but millions are doing just that and having success.
Bipolar is identified by its two distinct extremes in mood. A person with bipolar will be in a very high, energetic mood for a period of time, then will slip into a depressed, lethargic mood for a period of time. Though they can also come into even, steady moods, they are usually short lived. The highs a bipolar person goes through are often referred to as mania. They are not like a good mood the average person experiences. They are unstable and not grounded in reality, frequently featuring delusional thinking and unrealistic goal setting. The lows a bipolar person experiences are deep and dark, sapping them of energy and clear thinking, paralyzing their effectiveness.
These cycles can last days, weeks, or even months in some cases. Bipolar is closely related to manic depression, which is characterized by general mood instability and deep depressive periods of extremely low function. Bipolar is typically treated with medication and counseling. There is no curing bipolar, but there are many success stories of living with it and managing it. Medication brings a bipolar person’s brain chemicals under control to curb the extremity of the mood cycles, while counseling gives the person tools to cope with their disorder and resources for identifying when their disorder is in effect. They also receive resources to turn to in times of crisis, such as support groups, sponsors and mental disorder support services.