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UOKM8? - From My Experience: Bipolar Disorder

UOKM8? - From My Experience: Bipolar Disorder

Last year, Kanye West told the world that bipolar disorder is his superpower. In fact, he joins a long list of celebrities who have said they had been diagnosed with the condition, including Mariah Carey, Stephen Fry and Demi Lovato.

It's a step in the right direction for stamping out the stigma, but there's still plenty of work to do. Twenty-one-year-old student Jessica and 29-year-old musician Infecta are among large number of people who experience bipolar disorder and they have told us what it is like to live their lives.

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But what is bipolar disorder? According to mental health charity Mind, it's a condition that mainly affects someone's mood. People living with bipolar can experience manic and depressive episodes and sometimes some psychotic symptoms.

Those who don't have a good understanding of the condition may label someone with bipolar disorder as "moody" or think of them as having a split personality. That just isn't true.

Director of Time to Change, the mental health anti-stigma campaign, Jo Loughran, has said how harmful these misconceptions can be.

Jo said: "These kinds of beliefs are extremely damaging as they can make people feel isolated and alone. They may also stop people from getting the help they need which means their mental health gets worse."

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So, what's it really like living with bipolar disorder?

Jessica has only recently been diagnosed with bipolar but told us: "I live with it and I manage it, I get on with it. It's not a constant thing running through my mind 24/7."

She admits that before she was diagnosed she thought having bipolar meant you had a hundred different mood swings each day. But she said: "it's not like that at all really."

Infecta doesn't let his diagnosis define who he is. Instead, he chooses to see it as just something he has.

He said: "I always tell people, when you have a cold or a flu you don't go around saying 'Hi, I'm flu' so I don't go around saying 'Hi, I'm bipolar.'"

So, what can you do if you've got a mate who has bipolar disorder?

Jo suggests that you start by simply developing an understanding of what bipolar disorder is and what they're going through.

She said: "You could learn more about bipolar disorder by reading personal stories from people who have experienced similar things.

"You might want to learn about the professional help that's available to them and suggest that they explore those options."

Being available to listen can also make a real difference. Even if you feel like you don't have all the answers, having someone to talk to can be a big help.

Jessica said: "My family is so supportive. They can't relate but they can understand where it's coming from."

Infecta was worried his family wouldn't know how to deal with his diagnosis and would just avoid it. However, he's found quite the opposite. He said: "They ended up being caring, to the point it's almost over-caring!"

Many people living with bipolar disorder have certain triggers that can cause periods of people feeling unwell, like dealing with high levels of stress or a bad night's sleep. As a friend, you can help them plan, and learn their triggers and warning signs.

Jo said: "It might be hard for them to recognise these signs when they are going through it themselves, so it might be helpful if together you can agree a plan for what to do if you think they are becoming unwell."

When it comes to mental health, make sure you all look out for each other.

UOKM8? is a campaign by LADbible, featuring films and stories that provide advice and inspiration on mental health. Explore more here and don't suffer in silence. Let's talk mental health.

MIND: 0300 123 3393.

Samaritans: 116 123.

CALM: Outside London 0808 802 5858, inside London 0800 58 58 58.

Topics: UOKM8, UOKM8?

Mark Cunliffe

Mark is a writer at LADbible with a creative writing background and a history working at some of Manchester's biggest agencies. He loves football and music that screams a lot.

 

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