The average age of onset for bipolar disorder is during the early 20s, so many people who have been diagnosed start exhibiting symptoms during their college years. Dealing with the stress of depression, mania, and mixed states while under the various stressors of college life can make symptoms worse. Sometimes, you may miss classes due to psychiatry appointments or even ER visits. At various times, I have had to disclose my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder to my professors and grad students.
These are some of the reactions I have gotten over the past 2 years:
1. Are you okay? How are you feeling right now?
2. Well, my father had Bipolar Disorder and the doctors didn’t even know what they were doing.
3. Psychiatric medications are bullshit.
4. Bipolar disorder is not a “psychiatric” condition… here… I’ll give you the number of a psychologist in the area. He knows how to deal with this WITHOUT those meds.
5. Go straight to CAPS- you can make up the exam at a later date.
6. With your clinical profile, I think you could benefit from lithium.
7. You appear depressed in class… and really stressed out. Is everything okay?
8. Are you sure you should go to grad school? It could make you… “unstable”…
9. I know someone who took ten years to complete their undergraduate degree due to bipolar disorder. Take care of yourself and put your health first.
10. I can email a few people in the psych department and get recommendations for the best clinical psychologists in the area.
11. Do you want to hurt yourself? Are you suicidal?
12. Are you getting any sleep?
13. Make sure you avoid caffeine and alcohol… and stress… and get plenty of sleep…
14. I’m sorry.