Make-a-List Monday: Teens with bipolar disorder

This is a list of MPs who suffer from bipolar disorder and are nineteen or younger. This condition usually manifests itself in the late teenage or early adult years, but can appear in childhood or early adolescence also. It’s estimated to affect about two and a half percent of the adult population and a list of every Charley MP who has it, I decided, would be too long — over one hundred names, I think — so I focused on the younger ones.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depression, is characterized by periods of depressed mood alternating with manic states, where a person can become irrationally happy and/or irritable, have a greater sex drive and less need for sleep, and, in the more severe cases, become aggressive and develop paranoia and psychotic symptoms. People joke about it — “I’m was in a good mood this morning but now I’m feeling crappy, I’m just so bipolar today!” — but I wish they wouldn’t; this is a serious illness and isn’t to be taken lightly. Psychiatric drugs are pretty much essential for controlling the condition, but various forms of psychotherapy are recommended too.

I myself have a mild form of the disorder. For me it’s the depression that’s most noticeable, and at first I was diagnosed with depression only; years passed before my doctors realized I was also having manic episodes. I’ll become really happy, as in “bouncing around the house singing at the top of my voice” happy, and I’ll talk too fast for other people to understand, and often ambitiously start some project or other that I’ll never finish and didn’t have the ability to finish in the first place. Then, after two or three days or sometimes a whole week, I’ll be in the “I wish I was dead” mode, and that will usually last a lot longer than the happy period did.

(One time, for example, I got this idea to start a business selling a certain herbal appetite suppressant, and excitedly told all my friends about how I was going to corner the market on it and make loads of money. As far as putting my plan into action, all I actually did was order some seeds for planting. I never even bothered to plant them because by the time they arrived in the mail I was back in depression mode again. It was the wrong season anyway.)

Since I started taking a mood stabilizer in mid-2012 my mood swings have smoothed out a great deal, but my emotional pendulum still swings some and I have to keep an eye on myself. The mood stabilizer is a pain in the butt because I have to take it several times a day. But it works. And compared to many people with bipolar disorder, I’m very fortunate.

Diagnosed bipolar disorder:
Julian Carrozza, 13
Stacy Lynn Carson, 19
Mark Anthony Degner, 12
Virginia Anne Greene, 19
Bryan Andrew Hayes, 13
Juliandra Elizabeth Jones, 19
Ashley Renee Martinez, 15
Bianca Noel Piper, 13
Kyla G. Porter, 19

Honorable mention:
Kara Nancy Nichols, 19, listed as possibly having bipolar disorder

I wouldn’t be surprised if these were not the only teenagers listed on Charley who have bipolar disorder. To begin with, I rarely have much in the way of information on runaways, which comprise the majority of teenagers listed on the Charley Project. And also, often a person can have bipolar disorder for years or even decades before it’s diagnosed.

One of the most famous books on bipolar disorder is Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. I didn’t really like it very much, though I really liked her book Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide. I haven’t read that many books about bipolar disorder, but I would recommend A Mood Apart: Depression, Mania, and Other Afflictions of the Self by Peter Whybrow or The Pits and the Pendulum: A Life with Bipolar Disorder by Brian Adams.