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Living with Bipolar Disorder

DavidJeanTwo of our journalers, David and Jean, discuss what it's like living with bipolar disorder, from hypomania to severe depression.

They also shared how being bipolar affects their relationships and what treatment for manic depression and bipolar medications they use to control the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

David HealthyPlace.com moderator.

The people inblue are audience members.


online conference transcript

David:Good Evening. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to HealthyPlace.com. Our topic tonight is "Living With Bipolar Disorder." Our guests are Jean and David, two of the journalers in the HealthyPlace.com Bipolar Community. I'm going to tell you and a little about each and you can click on their names above to read the biographical sketches each sent me.

The reason I invited them here this evening is because I thought it would be interesting to have two "regular" people talk about how they experience bipolar disorder and how they cope with the different aspects of it, instead of inviting an "expert" on to talk about how it should be done. I'm going to talk to them for about 10 minutes each and then we'll open the floor for your questions and comments.

David is 30 years old. His parents first noticed symptoms of manic depression when David was 4. He has been married for 11 years and is a photographer and digital artist.

Jean is 49, married twice with a total of 5 children from both marriages. Jean is unusual in that her bipolar symptoms didn't first appear until 5 years ago, when she was dealing with the stress and depression that stemmed from the autism diagnosis of her fifth child. The doctor prescribed an improper dosage of an antidepressant and six months later she became hypomanic.

Good evening, David, and welcome to HealthyPlace.com. So we can get a little better feel for who you are, please tell us a bit more about yourself?

David W: Hi. It's nice to be here. I have been bipolar for most of my life and go up more than down. I actually feel that there are advantages to being bipolar, although it makes life difficult at times. I'm a rapid cycler, so no mood lasts too long, usually.

David:You mentioned having bipolar most of your life. How did your family members deal with that?

David W: Pretty well for the most part, but I was not taken to a therapist or anything. My father is a pastor and counselor and dealt with most of my issues himself. I hid my depressions for many years, and since I go up more than down, it was assumed that I was only a very active and creative child.

David:Why did you hide your depression?

David W: I didn't understand it. I was ashamed to feel so bad for no reason. I felt like I was supposed to just have faith or choose to be happy. I didn't know how to express suicidal thoughts at 8 and 9.

David:In your adult years, have you been able to share with your family how you feel and the impact that bipolar disorder has had on your life?

David W: Yes. Thankfully, my family has been very supportive and helpful. I wouldn't have made it this long without them.

David:What do you attribute that to? I ask that, because many people are afraid to share things like this with their families for fear of rejection.

David W: I attribute it to many nights of my opening up and telling them exactly how I feel and what's happening in my mind, even when it's embarrassing. I am sometimes to scared to say it or unable to, and I have written them letters, much like my bipolar journal entries. Mainly, I attribute it to their love for me. I am lucky.

David: It sounds like you are fortunate. One of the other things about your situation is that you have been married for 11 years to the same person. It seems to me that given your bipolar, this is a bit unusual. How have you managed that in your relationship?

David W: I married a great woman. I know that sounds simplistic, but I really don't know how else to answer that. I can't imagine anyone else putting up with me that long. I have even not wanted to. It hasn't been easy, but we are happy now.

David:And I say "unusual" because many times, having a person with a mental illness in the family puts a lot of stress on the relationship. Maybe you could share with us what it's like for you to be, first, manic, then depressed.

David W: Well, as I mentioned before, I go up more than down. My "normal" state is a low grade hypomania. When I go up, I vary between low mania and extremely high mania. I have psychotic manias that get really hard to deal with and are quite frightening at times. The depressions for me usually go too far down or last too long, but after an extreme high or if it lasts a long time, I become suicidal quite often.


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Last Updated: 31 March 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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