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.

8 thoughts on “Make-a-List Monday: Teens with bipolar disorder

  1. M86 April 7, 2014 / 1:41 am

    I share so much in what you’ve gone through… At least I think.

    I came off a med a few years ago (I decided I could do it!), and had this manic state for about two weeks… Just being overly happy and outgoing (Honestly, during that time, I felt good!) … and then I just crashed into mild depression/social anxiety… and had my first panic attack ever. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

    I absolutely hate doctors…. Another phobia of mine!

    I almost think I share some of my brother’s Asperger’s traits… The social issues anyway.

  2. Kat April 7, 2014 / 4:42 pm

    I dated a guy who was manic depressive back in college. He was formally diagnosed less than a year after we broke up. In hindsight it makes perfect sense, but at the time it was really confusing. He was 18-19 then. It was hard work. Those mood swings are really drastic, and his decision making was not the best.

  3. steph April 7, 2014 / 9:25 pm

    I had a form of depression that i battled for years (roughly 19 years!!) .. i never was formly diagnosed anything but having depression. I did take meds for about 6 months back when i was a teenager — when i took them. i totally understand why people say they stopped taking the meds & outsiders look badly at this … but the meds make you feel really weird and not yourself, why would you want to stay on them? That was my experience anyways.

    My family may think I am even crazier now today than back then because I have turned to Homeopathy to cure my depression. It’s been 9 months – and my mind is finally clear and I do not have the mood swings. I wonder how my life would be different had I started this route as a teen rather than an adult. I probably would have spared many people heartache and headaches!

  4. Lisa April 8, 2014 / 12:50 am

    Thanks for the book recommendations, I think I’m going to check them out.

  5. Angie April 8, 2014 / 11:09 am

    I’m pretty sure I have cyclothymia, but a lot of those mood-stabilizing medications have really dangerous side effects, so I will never take them. Just my personal choice.

    w/r/t Bianca Piper’s case…I looked up the road that her mom left her on on Google Maps, and it’s a pretty remote area. Most of it is bordered by farms and woods with absolutely nobody around, and the other half has houses but they’re pretty spread out and set back from the street. I don’t think it would even be safe for a 13-year-old girl to walk there alone during the daytime, let alone at night.

    • Brian Lockett May 30, 2015 / 12:25 am

      Actually, I think a remote road in BFE would be a better place to let her walk off her “fit” (or whatever you’d call it). That may be because I was raised (and still live) in such a place.

      I think it would be a lot worse had she left her in a more populated place. Otherwise she could have sought help from people that might not have her best interests on their mind. Or they could have sought HER out.

      “The middle of nowhere” may seem scary to people that aren’t used to it. There are many more people in cities/towns where it is more populated. That means that there’s a higher chance that there’d be more folks around who would take advantage of her.

    • Meaghan May 30, 2015 / 3:17 am

      I’m with you, Brian. I grew up in a remote area too and it was as safe as a cradle. You didn’t have to worry about traffic, for example, and nobody was a stranger.

  6. Cattt April 16, 2014 / 1:44 pm

    Wow I woulda thought this list would be longer, but I guess im thinking of mental disorders not just bipolar

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