BEING BIPOLAR

Being bipolar is extremely difficult for bipolar people, and for their families and friends too. Unfortunately, manic depression involves extreme moods and associated states of perception and cognition that are dangerous and traumatic for the bipolar people themselves, and often have damaging consequences for those closely related. Manic episodes often result in debt, injury, legal problems, embarrasing or traumatic behaviours, damage to careers and relationships, etc. Depression inevitably follows mania, and the depressed phase is an emotional crash that is in stark contrast to manic consciousness. Often there is a mess left over from the manic phase that needs to be cleaned up but, when depressed, bipolar people are disabled from summoning the physical energy, emotional motivation and cognitive focus to be able to recover. When the depressed brain chemistry conspires with a traumatic life and a sense of hopelessness, suicide becomes a real danger. Half of bipolar people are driven to attempt suicide, and 20% of bipolar people die from suicide: this statistic is between 18 and 25 times higher than suicide rates in the general population who are not bipolar.

BIPOLAR PEOPLE YOU MAY KNOW OF

Amy Winehouse

“I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a manic depressive.”

Demi Lovato

“Bipolar depression really got my life off track, but today I’m proud to say I am living proof that someone can live, love, and be well with bipolar disorder when they get the education, support and treatment they need.”

Dolores O'Riordan

“There are two ends of the spectrum — you can get extremely depressed and dark and lose interest in the things you love to do, then you can get super manic… I was at the hypomanic side of the spectrum on and off for a long period, but generally you can only last at that end for around three months before you hit rock bottom and go down into depression… During a hypomanic episode, people, including those in the arts, may be highly productive, confident and function well, with the ideas and motivation pouring out of them. But with severe episodes of mania or depression, a person can also have psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions or paranoia.”

Heath Ledger

“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night. I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.”

Jean Claude Van Damme

“I’m one of the most sensitive human beings on Earth – and I know it.”

Kay Redfield Jamison

“There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you’re high it’s tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars….But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against – you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable… I have often asked myself whether, given the choice, I would choose to have manic-depressive illness. If lithium were not available to me, or didn’t work for me, the answer would be a simple no… and it would be an answer laced with terror. But lithium does work for me, and therefore I can afford to pose the question. Strangely enough, I think I would choose to have it. It’s complicated… I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been mildly manic. When I am my present “normal” self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In sort, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.”

Mark Rothko

“The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions.. the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their colour relationships then you miss the point… You’ve got sadness in you, I’ve got sadness in me – and my works of art are places where the two sadness’s can meet, and therefore both of us need to feel less sad.”

Robin Williams

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless  and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that… If you’re that depressed, reach out to someone. And remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

Carrie Fisher

“So, when I was 24, someone suggested to me that I was bipolar, and I thought that was ridiculous. I just thought he was trying to get out of treating me. But he was also responding to the chaotic nature of my life… I overdosed at 28, at which point I began to accept the bipolar diagnosis… Now I’m fine, but I’m bipolar. I’m on seven medications, and I take medication three times a day. This constantly puts me in touch with the illness I have. I’m never quite allowed to be free of that for a day. It’s like being a diabetic… I don’t want to be caught … ashamed of anything. And because generally someone who has bipolar doesn’t have just bipolar, they have bipolar, and they have a life and a job and a kid and a hat and parents, so it’s not your overriding identity, it’s just something that you have, but not the only thing – even if it’s quite a big thing… Bipolar disorder can be a great teacher. It’s a challenge, but it can set you up to be able to do almost anything else in your life.”

Edvard Munch

“I was walking along the road with two of my friends. Then the sun set. The sky suddenly turned into blood, and I felt something akin to a touch of melancholy. I stood still, leaned against the railing, dead tired. Above the blue-black fjord and city hung clouds of dripping, rippling blood. My  friends went on and again I stood, frightened with an open wound in my breast. A great scream pierced through nature.”

Jaco Pastorius

“Sometimes I have a very bad point of being too obnoxious. I am not too obnoxious. I mean, I just try to make things more peaceful. Me being obnoxious makes a lot of things more peaceful.”

Jimi Hendrix

“Manic depression: it tortures my soul. I know what I want, but I just don’t know how to go about getting it.”

Linda Hamilton

[A manic episode is] “an amazingly brilliant time. You don’t need sleep. I think I existed on four hours sleep a night for four years. Sleep doesn’t seem necessary. You wake up feeling great. But it’s not all great feelings. A lot of the raging that I did I think was the manic part of my disorder. The capacity for fighting, war, taking everything on, taking too much on, overachieving and then raging because my system was so depleted. It was always all about me, when I would get that unwell. I would go into argumentative rages. But I suffered horribly… Exercise is an incredible key to feeling well. But for people with mental illness, taking care of the body is not an automatic thing. The mind is in such chaos it’s hard to come up with a plan. So to people like us, it’s more important than ever to follow a regimen.”

Nina Simone

“What kept me sane was knowing that things would change, and it was a question of keeping myself together until they did.”

Stephen Fry

“The point about manic depression or bipolar disorder, as it’s now more commonly called, is that it’s about mood swings. So, you have an elevated mood. When people think of manic depression, they only hear the word depression. They think one’s a depressive. The point is, one’s a manic-depressive.”

Vincent Van Gogh

“I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process… The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides, and, in its depths,  it has its pearls too… Art is to console those who are broken by life… One must never let the fire go out in one’s soul, but keep it burning…”

Catherine Zeta-Jones

“I’m not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops, but with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it’s completely controllable. I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who don’t have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it. If my revelation of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it. There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help.”

Halsey

“The thing about having bipolar disorder, for me, is that I’m really empathetic. I feel everything around me so much. I feel when I walk past a homeless person, and I feel when my friend breaks up with someone, or I feel when my mom and my dad get into a fight and my mom’s fuckin’ crying over dishes in the sink. I used to say to her all the time, like, ‘I hate this. I want to be naïve. I want to be worried about my prom dress. I want to be worried about getting my math homework done. I want to be like everyone else my age,’ and she would say, ‘Would you rather be blissfully ignorant, or would you rather be pained and aware?’ That was one of the things that’s kind of followed with me through my whole life. She’s encouraging of what I’m doing because she knows that even if sometimes I might be in pain, I’m aware.”

Jay Griffiths

“There are galaxies within the human mind, and madness wants to risk everything for the daring flight, reckless and beautiful and crazed. Everyone knows Icarus fell. But I love him for the fact that he dared to fly. Mania unfurls the invitation to fly too high, too near the sun.”

Kurt Cobain

“If my eyes could show my soul, everyone would cry when they saw me smile.”

Ludwig Van Beethoven

“From childhood my heart and mind were disposed to the gentle feelings of good will, I was even ever eager to accomplish great deeds, but reflect now that for six years I have been a hopeless case, aggravated by senseless physicians, cheated year after year in the hope of improvement, finally compelled to face the prospect of a lasting malady (whose cure will take years or, perhaps, be impossible).”

Paul Gaugin

“I am a great artist and I know it; it is because I am that I have been able to endure so much suffering.”

Tori Amos

“I see the dream and I see the nightmare, and I believe you can’t have the dream without the nightmare.”

Winston Churchill

“I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and, if possible, get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything.”

BIPOLAR PEOPLE YOU MAY KNOW OF

Amy Winehouse

“I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a manic depressive.”

Carrie Fisher

“So, when I was 24, someone suggested to me that I was bipolar, and I thought that was ridiculous. I just thought he was trying to get out of treating me. But he was also responding to the chaotic nature of my life… I overdosed at 28, at which point I began to accept the bipolar diagnosis… Now I’m fine, but I’m bipolar. I’m on seven medications, and I take medication three times a day. This constantly puts me in touch with the illness I have. I’m never quite allowed to be free of that for a day. It’s like being a diabetic… I don’t want to be caught … ashamed of anything. And because generally someone who has bipolar doesn’t have just bipolar, they have bipolar, and they have a life and a job and a kid and a hat and parents, so it’s not your overriding identity, it’s just something that you have, but not the only thing – even if it’s quite a big thing… Bipolar disorder can be a great teacher. It’s a challenge, but it can set you up to be able to do almost anything else in your life.”

Catherine Zeta-Jones

“I’m not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops, but with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it’s completely controllable. I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who don’t have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it. If my revelation of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it. There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help.”

Demi Lovato

“Bipolar depression really got my life off track, but today I’m proud to say I am living proof that someone can live, love, and be well with bipolar disorder when they get the education, support and treatment they need.”

Dolores O'Riordan

“There are two ends of the spectrum — you can get extremely depressed and dark and lose interest in the things you love to do, then you can get super manic… I was at the hypomanic side of the spectrum on and off for a long period, but generally you can only last at that end for around three months before you hit rock bottom and go down into depression… During a hypomanic episode, people, including those in the arts, may be highly productive, confident and function well, with the ideas and motivation pouring out of them. But with severe episodes of mania or depression, a person can also have psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions or paranoia.”

Edvard Munch

“I was walking along the road with two of my friends. Then the sun set. The sky suddenly turned into blood, and I felt something akin to a touch of melancholy. I stood still, leaned against the railing, dead tired. Above the blue-black fjord and city hung clouds of dripping, rippling blood. My  friends went on and again I stood, frightened with an open wound in my breast. A great scream pierced through nature.”

Halsey

“The thing about having bipolar disorder, for me, is that I’m really empathetic. I feel everything around me so much. I feel when I walk past a homeless person, and I feel when my friend breaks up with someone, or I feel when my mom and my dad get into a fight and my mom’s fuckin’ crying over dishes in the sink. I used to say to her all the time, like, ‘I hate this. I want to be naïve. I want to be worried about my prom dress. I want to be worried about getting my math homework done. I want to be like everyone else my age,’ and she would say, ‘Would you rather be blissfully ignorant, or would you rather be pained and aware?’ That was one of the things that’s kind of followed with me through my whole life. She’s encouraging of what I’m doing because she knows that even if sometimes I might be in pain, I’m aware.”

Heath Ledger

“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night. I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.”

Jaco Pastorius

“Sometimes I have a very bad point of being too obnoxious. I am not too obnoxious. I mean, I just try to make things more peaceful. Me being obnoxious makes a lot of things more peaceful.”

Jay Griffiths

“There are galaxies within the human mind, and madness wants to risk everything for the daring flight, reckless and beautiful and crazed. Everyone knows Icarus fell. But I love him for the fact that he dared to fly. Mania unfurls the invitation to fly too high, too near the sun.”

Jimi Hendrix

“Manic depression: it tortures my soul. I know what I want, but I just don’t know how to go about getting it.”

Jean Claude Van Damme

“I’m one of the most sensitive human beings on Earth – and I know it.”

Kay Redfield Jamison

“There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you’re high it’s tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars….But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against – you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable… I have often asked myself whether, given the choice, I would choose to have manic-depressive illness. If lithium were not available to me, or didn’t work for me, the answer would be a simple no… and it would be an answer laced with terror. But lithium does work for me, and therefore I can afford to pose the question. Strangely enough, I think I would choose to have it. It’s complicated… I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been mildly manic. When I am my present “normal” self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In sort, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.”

Kurt Cobain

“If my eyes could show my soul, everyone would cry when they saw me smile.”

Linda Hamilton

[A manic episode is] “an amazingly brilliant time. You don’t need sleep. I think I existed on four hours sleep a night for four years. Sleep doesn’t seem necessary. You wake up feeling great. But it’s not all great feelings. A lot of the raging that I did I think was the manic part of my disorder. The capacity for fighting, war, taking everything on, taking too much on, overachieving and then raging because my system was so depleted. It was always all about me, when I would get that unwell. I would go into argumentative rages. But I suffered horribly… Exercise is an incredible key to feeling well. But for people with mental illness, taking care of the body is not an automatic thing. The mind is in such chaos it’s hard to come up with a plan. So to people like us, it’s more important than ever to follow a regimen.”

Ludwig Van Beethoven

“From childhood my heart and mind were disposed to the gentle feelings of good will, I was even ever eager to accomplish great deeds, but reflect now that for six years I have been a hopeless case, aggravated by senseless physicians, cheated year after year in the hope of improvement, finally compelled to face the prospect of a lasting malady (whose cure will take years or, perhaps, be impossible).”

Mark Rothko

“The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions.. the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their colour relationships then you miss the point… You’ve got sadness in you, I’ve got sadness in me – and my works of art are places where the two sadness’s can meet, and therefore both of us need to feel less sad.”

Nina Simone

“What kept me sane was knowing that things would change, and it was a question of keeping myself together until they did.”

Paul Gaugin

“I am a great artist and I know it; it is because I am that I have been able to endure so much suffering.”

Robin Williams

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless  and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that… If you’re that depressed, reach out to someone. And remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

Stephen Fry

“The point about manic depression or bipolar disorder, as it’s now more commonly called, is that it’s about mood swings. So, you have an elevated mood. When people think of manic depression, they only hear the word depression. They think one’s a depressive. The point is, one’s a manic-depressive.”

Tori Amos

“I see the dream and I see the nightmare, and I believe you can’t have the dream without the nightmare.”

Vincent Van Gogh

“I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process… The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides, and, in its depths,  it has its pearls too… Art is to console those who are broken by life… One must never let the fire go out in one’s soul, but keep it burning…”

Winston Churchill

“I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and, if possible, get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything.”

Illness with benefits

We believe that experiencing manic depression is not an entirely bad thing, that there are benefits associated with this condition that should be valued alongside the struggles. Furthermore, the characteristics of bipolar people are an extrapolation of normal human experience: manic depression is an extreme manifestation of mood swings that neurotypical humans experience regularly. For these reasons, we believe that the pathologisation of manic depression and labelling of the condition as “bipolar disorder” is problematic.

People who experience manic depression have are statistically more likely to have creative abilities, emotional sensitivity, analytical intelligence, high motivation and passionate sexualities. These characteristics are the precious benefits associated with the condition, and most bipolar people would prefer to keep these characteristics – at the expense of their mental illness – rather than lose these characteristics together with deleting their condition.

Unfortunately, most of the pharmaceutical drugs that are currently available and regularly prescribed by psychiatrists, tend to blunt and suppress these positive qualities at the same time as controlling the symptoms of bipolar disorder. This is cost that many bipolar people are not willing to pay, which is why they often refuse to take their prescription drugs and then are prone to worsened symptoms. Despite these problems, the pharmaceutical industry has ceased conducting research and development of new drugs for the treatment of bipolar disorder.

For these reasons, the Bipolar Disorder Community Interest Company endeavours to develop new medication protocols which manage manic depression without causing side-effects that ruin the life experience of bipolar people. The two research projects underway are “A Reappraisal of Lithium Salts” and “The Therapeutic Potential of Ayahuasca for the Treatment of Bipolar Disorder”.

Families and friends

The company acknowledges that family and friends play a major role in the provision of care and support to bipolar people and hopes to provide useful information and advice which will empower them. The company is critical of the psychiatric profession’s tendency to dismiss and marginalise the value that family and friends have in the diagnostic and treatment process. Family and friends often understand the bipolar person’s characteristics and needs better than psychiatrists but are forced to blindly follow advice from psychiatrists because of their lack of technical understanding of bipolar brain chemistry and pharmaceutical drugs. Unfortunately, psychiatrists are often prescribing harmful pharmaceuticals to bipolar people – making their symptoms worse in the name of treatment – but family and friends unwittingly comply. Therefore, Bipolar Disorder CIC intends to educate family and friends about the essential scientific facts of bipolar brain chemistry, the pharmaceutical drugs which are helpful or harmful for treating manic depression. Furthermore, the company will provide advice about lifestyle and nutritional choices that may help bipolar people, based on theories developed by Benjamin Mudge’s personal experience. With this empowering information, families and friends may be able to protect bipolar people from harmful situations and facilitate healthier and happier outcomes.

The Director of Bipolar Disorder CIC, Benjamin Mudge, understands these problems intimately because he has been experiencing manic depression since the 1980s. See “Company History” for more information.

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