Laura Delano recognized that she was “excellent at everything, but it didn’t mean anything,” her doctor wrote. She grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, one of the wealthiest communities in the country. Her father is related to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and her mother was introduced to society at a débutante ball at the Waldorf-Astoria. In eighth grade, in 1996, Laura was the class president—she ran on a platform of planting daffodils on the school’s grounds—and among the best squash players in the country. She was one of those rare proportional adolescents with a thriving social life. But she doubted whether she had a “real self underneath.”
The oldest of three sisters, Laura felt as if she were living two separate lives, one onstage and the other in the audience, reacting to an exhausting performance. She snapped at her mother, locked herself in her room, and talked about wanting to die. She had friends at school who cut themselves with razors, and she was intrigued by what seemed to be an act of defiance. She tried it, too. “The pain felt so real and raw and mine,” she said.
Marked each year on March 30, World Bipolar Day (WBD) is a world-wide awareness initiative that aims to encourage global education, open discussion, as well as improving sensitivity surrounding bipolar disorder.
As many as 1% to 2% of the British population experience bipolar through their lives and recent research suggested as many as 5% are on the bipolar spectrum.
A severe mental health illness characterised by significant mood swings including manic highs and depressive lows, the majority of individuals with bipolar experience alternating episodes of mania and depression. more
The current, criteria-based approach towards diagnosing psychiatric disorders evolved from research in the 1960s and early 1970s by faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. Those investigators analyzed data from clinical observations, longitudinal follow-up of patients, and family history information to define diagnostic criteria for a group of psychiatric illnesses that they believed were well validated based on several defined metrics.
Although this approach was not based on disease mechanisms, it did allow for reliable categorization of disorders—reliable meaning that different clinicians would likely agree on the same diagnosis for a given patient. Some of the illnesses included in the original 1972 publication from the Washington University group were schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, certain anxiety disorders, anorexia nervosa, and alcohol and drug dependence.
There is an assumption among many Americans that doctors are pretty darn smart and always know what they’re talking about. Psychiatrists work with the mentally ill, so they are certainly smarter than their patients. Because, after all, their patients are “crazy.” Right?
In this episode, our hosts discuss all the times that psychiatrists and therapists didn’t live up to the hype – or stereotype.
Narrator: [00:00:09] For reasons that utterly escapes Everyone involved. You’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Thank you for tuning into A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast. more
Joy in a Mental Hospital
My experience after checking myself in at a mental hospital was almost entirely positive. I had been diagnosed as bipolar at 25. At the time, I was fresh out of a top-10 law school, but I had managed to endanger my career through a series of poor decisions.
After a brief round of treatment with lithium, Prozac, and Tegretol, I decided that sanity was overrated. I quit all my meds and slipped into a five-year period of uncontrolled mania. It was, in all honesty, the happiest time of my life.
I was completely manic (and happy) for five years of marriages, near marriages, and one-night stands. I slept one to two hours a day and salsa danced until five in the morning. more
Girl, Interrupted – Ice cream parlor scene
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is an often profoundly misunderstood mental health condition commonly conflated with bipolar disorder. In reality, it’s an entirely different mental illness. Take a few minutes to read the facts below and better understand borderline personality disorder, along with the people who live with it.
1. Borderline personality disorder often causes symptoms like extreme mood shifts and uncertainty in how a person views themselves and others. more
Psychiatric advance directives allow patients with serious mental illness to specify the treatment they want if they become too sick to say so.
Steve Singer, who has bipolar and borderline personality disorders, knows when he’s on the verge of a mental health crisis. The female voice he hears incessantly in his head suddenly shuts up, and the hula hoop he gyrates while walking to the grocery store stops easing his anxieties.
That’s when he gets to a hospital. Usually, talking briefly with a nurse or social worker calms him enough to return home. But this year a hospital placed him on a locked ward, took his phone, and had an armed guard watch him for 20 hours before a social worker spoke with him and released him. more
Nearly five years ago to the day, Bradley Davenport experienced an episode.
Then 24 years old, Davenport’s vehicle sideswiped a tractor-trailer while traveling along U.S. 20. In the throes of psychosis, he then led police on a high-speed chase beginning in LaPorte and ending near Michigan City, at times driving in the opposite lane, a news report indicates.
With the vehicle eventually spun out and blocked, a delusional Davenport punched in the face a police officer who attempted to restrain him. A Taser was employed, an eventual apprehension and admittance into a regional hospital’s psychiatric unit followed.
Shortly after the episode, and avoiding conviction, Davenport was clinically diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder — what amounts, in his case, to schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, he explained. more
- Bipolar disorder is characterised by manic and depressive episodes.
- It shouldn’t be romanticised, said Katherine Ponte, who has lived with bipolar 1 for 15 years.
- People tend to be in the depressive episodes longer than the manic ones.
- But it’s the manic episodes that “get you in trouble.”
Mental health disorders can be wrongly portrayed in film and television, often being shown as more romantic, dramatic, or dangerous than they really are. So people can often end up with ideas about them that aren’t accurate.
Bipolar disorder is no different.
Katherine Ponte, founder of ForLikeMinds, spoke to INSIDER about what it’s been like to live with bipolar 1 disorder for the past 15 years — and the most common misconceptions that exist around bipoar.
Bipolar 1 is characterised by manic episodes, depressive episodes, and potentially some psychosis. Bipolar 2 is a different disorder where the episodes of mania are less severe, often called hypomania. more
This could be a revolution for diagnosing and treating the disorder
Cayenne Barnum is a 24-year-old artist and designer who has bipolar disorder.
While she was officially diagnosed at 20, Barnum struggled throughout her teenage years to get a clear diagnosis of her mental illness. “It takes so long to diagnose because it manifests in so many different ways,” she told BuzzFeed News.
Barnum is currently in the process of weaning herself off Seroquel, an antipsychotic drug that she was originally prescribed for her manic periods, but that had taxing side effects for her body. “It turned out that it had made me put on 18 kilos or something, so right now I’m getting off that and I’m on a weight-loss supplement that people with diabetes take so they’re not hungry.”
Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition that’s characterised by extreme mood changes; people with the disorder cycle between manic, hypomanic, and depressive periods that can last a week or longer and severely affect thought patterns and behaviour. more