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What To Do If You Suspect Someone Has Bipolar

Recently a friend asked me what to do about someone that he suspects has bipolar. It was not someone I knew and as he was back in his home country, I could only give some pointers over Facebook message. 

Firstly, I asked him to read up about the condition, especially how to recognise possible symptoms. That’s the easy part. The difficult part comes when deciding if, when and how to approach the topic. Often people can be in denial, or because of stigma, they can react strongly against suggestions that they have a mental health issue. 

That's Not a Real Diagnosis

“That’s not a real illness.” “I don’t believe in mental health.” “If you don’t need medication, you must not really have bipolar.” 

These are just a few of the long stream of comments from people in my life, the most recent being “You know, I don’t think you’re bipolar, I think you have cyclomania,” because having a Bachelor’s in psychology obviously means that you know more than the multiple psychologists and psychiatrists that have confirmed my diagnosis. 

Relief & Denial - My First Two Steps

At the age of 16, I was in a serious car accident and suffered a concussion. Within two weeks after the accident, something about me was different.

Step 1: Relief
At the age of 27, during my first psychiatric hospitalization, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  I remember feeling the biggest sense of relief and thinking to myself, "Finally! Now there's an answer to that question I have asked myself over and over for the last 10 years--WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME?"