Bipolar disorder has been called the medical condition du jour. For some people, it is mistakenly seen as a trendy disorder associated with artists, writers, actors, and creative high achievers. It has been linked to many celebrities, who have talked about their struggle with the disorder. In so doing, these well-known spokespersons have performed an admirable service by helping remove the stigma associated with mental disorders of all types.
But a few people reason that if famous, accomplished people have bipolar disorder, it might not be such a bad thing to have. This naïve view is never shared by anyone who has suffered from this illness. Untreated, it can be life threatening: suicide claims 15 percent or more of those who struggle with this brain disease.
Despite the increased public awareness of the disorder, the common belief around the world that a mental disorder is a source of embarrassment — a personal flaw — persists. The masses of people who aren't writers, artists, or entertainers, who don't have publicists but do have bipolar disorder — and there are millions of them — don't see glamour in the illness. Instead, they experience disrupted lives, personal pain, and often discrimination.
Faced with the reality of their diagnosis, they recover their health by taking charge and managing their illness. They learn to recognize their symptoms, intercept destructive mood swings, and continue their treatment. The odds are in your favor if you do the same.