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11 things people with bipolar disorder want you to know

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Emery Lord won our MP! Book of the Year with ‘When We Collided’ and not just because of its beautifully raw and honest depiction of mental illness, but it does make a core component of the book.

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If Vivi could jump out of the book and tell you some things about bipolar disorder, it might go a bit like this…

Firstly, we appreciate that everyone’s own experience with mental health and bipolar disorder will be different and incredibly individual. But there are some common myths that need to be debunked if we’re going to raise awareness and start making a difference.

1. Bipolar is not simply having mood swings. Not the kind we’re so quick to colloquially call ‘mood swings’.

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Bipolar disorder is extreme shifts in mood, from high to low, for weeks, or even months, at a time. It can even include a mixed state. Not one person’s cycle is the same.

2. Mania isn’t just a hyper happy fun time. Sure, the person may feel uplifted, energised and ready to take on the world, but what comes with that is a lessened sense of danger and often poor decision making. Impulse buying, taking unnecessary or even life threatening risks and alcohol/drug abusive are common signs someone is in ‘mania’.

3. Bipolar is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It can be helped by medication, but it is only “controlled” and not “cured”. It can have huge knock on effects for the body too the stress takes its toll.

4. People with bipolar disorder are not dangerous. There’s a terrible stigma on mental health and how if you have poor mental health you’re probably going to do harm or commit a crime. But realistically people suffering with bipolar are more of a danger to themselves than others.

5. Having bipolar does mean you cannot be successful. There are many celebrities who have come out as bipolar. Including Demi Lovato, Catherine Zeta Jones, Stephen Fry and more:

6. Bipolar is not always genetic. You can be predisposed to it, but you do not have to “inherit” it. Environmental factors such as seasonal changes in the weather, stress, sleep deprivation and pregnancy can trigger a cycle or episode.

 

7. Everyday can be made harder, but not impossible. Bipolar sufferers can still go to work, do the chores and have a generally “normal” day to day life. It’s about management and careful understanding.

8. Not every bipolar sufferer is a creative genius or artistic legend. A large number of prolific and legendary creative types often have suffered some sort of mental illness. It can lead to increased productivity however and a quickening of thought.

9. Just because someone has bipolar doesn’t mean they’re ill all the time, or 100% stark raving bonkers. There are periods of “normality” that can last any amount of time between episodes. Also, it doesn’t mean that they can’t function or communicate “normally” while going through an episode.

10. Over half of those diagnosed with bipolar have attempted suicide. And 1/5 do so successfully. If you know someone with bipolar, don’t be afraid to check in and reach out. That doesn’t mean babysitting them, but just being aware and knowing that you are not to blame any more than they are for whatever the outcome is.

11. When experiencing an episode, particularly of mania, people with bipolar have been found to struggle to recognise emotions on other people’s faces. This can make communication difficult. It can also lead to strange behaviour towards friends and family.

Bipolar isn’t scary if it’s diagnosed and treated. And just like Vivi in ‘When We Collided’ there are days that are up and down, and there are days that are up up UP and days that are right the way down down down. You can buy your copy of Emery Lord’s book right here.

Do you think its a good thing when celebrities come out and tell their fans about their mental health? Tell us in the comments below!

Visit MIND for more information about or help with mental health.

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Written by Sarah Clare

Sarah is the Lead Writer and Design Queen here at Maximum Pop! Sarah holds an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University, and a BA in Creative Writing with English Literature from Marjon (BIG UP THE MARJON MASSIVE!). Sarah joined MP! after seeing an advertisement for writers on Instagram – because where else would a design master find their dream job?

Sarah is currently working on an expose on Draco Malfoy in her spare time. But not if his father hears about it.

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