It was only about one year ago when I was diagnosed with type II Bipolar disorder. However, I've had the symptoms for as long as I can remember! I am consistently reminded of all my childhood 'outbursts,' and I recall sitting in my room at the age of eleven tying a rope around my neck wanting to commit suicide. Everyone was quick to call me a drama queen, and write it all off as cravings for attention. Attention was not what I wanted or needed, then or now. Dealing with Bipolar disorder is a chore that most the time seems impossible.

When an individual is battling with Bipolar, they are battling a personal war that has been waged inside of them. It is like waking up in the morning and not knowing who you are going to be! I really do enjoy being happy, and I like my life and love all the people in it. Nevertheless, depending on the day of the week that may not be how I'm feeling. As a sufferer of this disease, I have no control over my attitude, my emotions, or my moods, and not having control is the worst of all. For a normal person, or someone not suffering from Bipolar, having their boss give them a little constructive criticism could be a good thing.

For me, I would be totally devastated and have a hard time holding back tears. Has someone ever cut you off, no big deal right? Well, my take on it would be that the world was out to get me and that person was the conspirator. Can you see the distortion? Manic-depression is the common term for Bipolar disorder. Full-blown cases of manic-depression are characterized by episodes of uncontrollable hyperactivity, often accompanied by grandiose delusions, and longer periods of incapacitating, and often-suicidal depression. When someone is experiencing a manic episode, they will engage in high risk activities such as promiscuity, drug abuse, and perhaps criminal type behavior. During times of mania, the individual displays high irritability, increased self-esteem, higher rates of talking, as well as noticeable mood changes, and a decreased need for sleep.

Once the mania passes on comes the depression. During episodes of depression, one will feel tired, worthless, may experience weight loss, and may suffer from insomnia. Depression also diminishes interest in pleasurable activities, can cause inappropriate guilt as well as recurrent thoughts of death and suicide. Some people, including myself suffer from mixed episodes, or depression and mania at the same time. The genetic component of this disease is strong: Children are 60 percent likely to suffer if a parent is. Among identical twins, whether or not they were raised together, if one twin has the illness, the other is 80 percent likely to suffer from it.

Manic depression afflicts at least 1 percent of the population, and, in contrast to most mental illnesses, the rate is considerably higher in the upper social and economic classes. (PT) The diagnosis can only be made with careful observation over an extended period. Treatment for Bipolar Disorder usually includes education of the patient and the family about the illness, mood stabilizing medications such as lithium and Valproic acid, and psychotherapy. Mood stabilizing medications often reduce the number and severity of manic episodes, and help to prevent depression. Psychotherapy helps the patient have self understanding, adapt to stresses, rebuild self-esteem, and improve relationships.

On average, people with bipolar disorder see 3-4 doctors and spend over 8 years seeking treatment before they receive a correct diagnosis. Earlier diagnosis, proper treatment, and finding the right medications can help people avoid the following: Suicide, the risk is highest in the initial years of the illness. Alcohol or substance abuse, more than 50% of those with bipolar disorder abuse alcohol or drugs during their illness. Marital and work problems, prompt treatment improves the prospects for a stable marriage and productive work.

Treatment difficulties, there is evidence that the more mood episodes a person has, the harder it is to treat each subsequent episode and the more frequent episodes may become. Incorrect, inappropriate, or partial treatment, a person misdiagnosed as having depression alone instead of bipolar disorder may incorrectly receive antidepressants alone without anti-manic medication. This can trigger manic episodes and make the overall course of the illness worse. There is no single, proven cause of bipolar disorder, but research strongly suggests that it is often an inherited problem related to a lack of stability in the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain.

This biochemical problem makes people with bipolar disorder more vulnerable to emotional and physical stresses. If there is an upsetting life experience, substance use, lack of sleep, or other excessive stimulation, the normal brain mechanisms for restoring calm functioning don't always work properly. So there it is in black and white that it is a disorder, a nerve problem, and yet I continue to feel ashamed and embarrassed. I feel there is no empathy or allowance for someone in my situation. I feel as if I am discriminated against in that the common idea is that I am "crazy" and everyone wants to know if I took my medication today.

The worst of it all is when I was at my lowest, most suicidal point I was not to seek professional help because of the implications it could leave on my permanent public record. Now that I know what is wrong with me, each day continues to come one by one, and that's just how I take them one at a time. I take my medication and work with my doctors but deep in the dark crevices of my mind is the constant reminder that another ice age could be cast upon me and that my only choice is to live life to its fullest every day. For I know that there is no guarantee that my sun will shine tomorrow.