One of the frustrations that I hear voiced from my patients with bipolar disorder is the feeling of isolation and of being an outcast.  “How can I talk with someone who will think I’m crazy if I tell them I’m bipolar.”  Add this loneliness to an existing depressed mood and you have a downward spiral of negativity and hopelessness.  One of the few positive outcomes of direct to consumer advertising by drug companies has been the subtle move towards mainstream acceptance of mental health disorders.  Unfortunately, there are miles to go before one can admit with the same nonchalance that one has bipolar (or any other mental disorder) as one would with high cholesterol.  While a few support groups exist, they do not meet the needs of all patients and tend to be utilized by those who are not functioning well.  “Where are the bipolar patients who aren’t on disability and on five different meds?”  Most likely, they are working, spending time with their family….but probably not attending a support group; at least, not while they are doing well.  It’s a shame too:  it would be nice for those who have had success in managing their condition to share some of their strategies and tips with others.  Until then, there is a wonderful multimedia collection of stories on the New York Times website from patients living with bipolar disorder:

http://tinyurl.com/bipolarvoices

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