There is a disease out there that can be more harmful to families than AIDS, it
can cause more pain and suffering to the individual afflicted with the disease
than anything anybody could dream of, this disease is so rare, that less than
one percent of the people in the nation( National…Ill, 2), the disease is
Manic Depression, also known as Bipolar. Bipolar is a disease that is common,
but yet very few people are aware of it and know its symptoms. I was one of
those people who knew about Bipolar, but really done know its affect on a person
and those people around him. Bipolar is a disease that has lot to be discovered.

Although it has been around for a while, it is still relatively new. In an age
where AIDS and STDs rule the front page, a disease as Bipolar does not receive
attention until it is too late. Manic Depression(bipolar) is a mental illness
involving serious episodes of mania and depression(National…Ill 2). Even
though two million people have the disease, doctors are still baffled by its
cause. The most likely explanation is that it is caused by a single gene, but
that has yet to be proven. Over twenty-three percent of adolescents who have
bipolar, also have moms, who has this disease(National…Ill 3). Another cause
is that bipolar might be inherited. During mania and depression there are many
chemical changes that accompany the mood (Sims2). The number one chemical in the
brain that change is sodium. During both depression and mania the sodium levels
will rise, while other brain chemicals will rise during mania and fall during
depression(Sims 2). It is crucial that teens get diagnosed right away. In my
case I was in the middle. The signs were there, we just did not see them at
first, but we still took care of it in the early stages. If they do not get
treated right away the problem will only continue to get worse and worse. The
problem is, many teens have high energy levels and it is tough to diagnose. Some
signs of manic depression can range anywhere from a decreased need for sleep to
an increased sexual drive(National…Ill 4). The thing that caused my parents to
be superstitious was my wild mood swings. One minute I would be acting as if
there was nothing wrong, the next minute, I would be feeling there is no sense
in going on. Another thing bipolar might do is hide behind another problem. A
kid might be doing poor in school, but in reality it could be the early stage of
manic depression. This was another sign that something was wrong with me. I had
a 3.0 grade point average, but when my first quarter report card came out I had
1.5. Bipolar can show its face anywhere it is important to the family and
friends of the person that they find help immediately. Manic Depression is not
curable. There are many different ways to treat it and to deal with it. Bipolar
is a disease, when treated properly will go into remission and has the
possibility of never showing up again. There are three ways that are effective.

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The first is mood stabilizers. These drugs help level your mood so, signs of
mania and depression are lessened. The second way is talk therapy. Talk therapy
is when a person with bipolar talks to a psychiatrist or a social worker about
their thoughts and/or feelings(National…Ill 4). This is often used
concurrently with the mood stabilizers. The third way is Electroconvulsive
therapy (ECT), this is often used in the treatment of severe
depression(National..Ill 4). Lithium is the most common mood stabilizer and it
is the most used to treat patients with bipolar(National…Ill 4). Lithium is a
chemical that stabilizes the chemicals in the brain and in turn soothes the
persons’ thoughts. This drug although helps the person mania and depression, it
also lessons their creativity(National…Ill 5). Lithium is taken in the form of
pills. The main thing doctors look for in a person taking lithium is their “level.(Sims
1).” A level is how much lithium there is per pint of blood. “A good lithium
level, in a normal adolescent is between five tenths and eight tenths,” said
Dr. Syed Ali of the Cleveland Clinic. “In order to maintain these levels we
try to have the person take a dosage at breakfast and a dosage at dinner,” he
said, “usually the dosage depends on how the bodys enzymes break down the
lithium chemicals.” I currently take two pills in the morning and three at
dinner. The reason you do not take lithium during lunch is that your bodys
enzymes do not break down the lithium fast enough and you start suffering side
effects, such as tremors, said Dr. Ali. He(Dr. Ali) also says that it is
critical for a person to maintain his or her level. “If they do not,” he
said, ” they might notice the effects now, but later down the line they
will.” It used to be that only Lithium was the only approved drug to treat
bipolar, now studies have shown that a new drug, Depakote, is
effective(National..Ill 4). This drug also acts as a depressive combatant.

Depressive combatants are drugs that take out the depressive episodes in manic
depression(National…Ill 2). Although there is not a lot known about this drug,
it has been proven to be very successful in lab studies (National…Ill 3). The
next kind of treatment that works well with taking of the pills is talk therapy.

Talk therapy is going to see a psychiatrist or a social worker and talking with
them about their feelings or something that is bugging them. “Often times we
are happy if the kid just comes in says hi,” says Ed Becker of the Cleveland
Clinic Social Workers. “Most times the kids are so scared and they just
dont want to talk to you about anything and even if you do ask them a
question, it is a one word response you get back,” Talk therapy is nothing new
to most people. Many of times a person has gone to see a psychatrist to help a
person out. Whether that person was seeing the doctor for marital problems or to
conquer their fear of heights a psychatrist is somebody they could always talk
to. However, a person with bipolar doesnt see a psychatrist or social worker
as a friend, but as a person out to get them(Shriberg 13). “The first thing we
tried to do is to make the person feel comfortable,” said Becker. “If the
person is comfortable he or she will more likely talk,” he continued, “In
Todds case it took us about four sessions before he would open up to me.”
The reason it took me so long to open up along with most other bipolar suffers
is that we do not feel we can trust the guy. We feel everything we say will be
told to our parents and the public(Sims 3). It took me awhile to trust Mr.

Becker, but once I started talking and confiding in him, my medication seemed to
really kick in and I have not looked back since. “Once Todd started opening up
to Mr. Becker, we noticed a change in him,” says Mr. John Krepop. “He seemed
to be smiling more and acting like his old self,” he remarked. The least
common method of treating is Electroconvulsive therapy(ECT). This is when they
shock the brain to have it wake up. A course of treatment with ECT usually
consists of six to twelve treatments given three times a week for a month or
less. The patient is given general anesthesia and a muscle relaxant. When these
have taken full effect, the patient’s brain is stimulated, using electrodes
placed at precise locations on the patient’s head, with a brief controlled
series of electrical pulses(National…Ill 6). This stimulus causes a seizure
within the brain which lasts for approximately a minute(National…Ill 6).

Because of the muscle relaxants and anesthesia, the patient’s body does not
convulse and the patient feels no pain. The patient awakens after five to ten
minutes, much as he or she would from minor surgery( National…Ill 6). In the
book the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Esther goes through the same kind of
treatment to help snap her out of the funk that has been plaguing her. ECT is
effective in over eighty percent of the people that use it. When we talk about
Manic Depression, it usually only the person who suffers from it that gets the
attention. What most people fail to see is the stress, pain, and suffering
family and friends have to go through. Each day they wake up and wonder what
kind of mood that person will be in. At times these people feel like there is
nothing they can do right for this person. These people sometimes dont
realize how important they are to the recovery of a person suffering from
bipolar. There is another way to help a person who suffers from bipolar and that
is the support of his family and friends. Talk therapy might be the best
prescribed medicine, but love is the greatest. “In almost one hundred percent
of my cases, the people who have the support of their family and friends, get
through life with the disease,” said Dr. Ali. “The people who end up
committing suicide are the ones who have no one to turn to, they feel alone and
the longer they go on feeling like this, the closer they are to death. The
twenty percent of people with bipolar who do committ suicide are the ones with
no families and no friends. All they do is sit around all day and feel more
depressed until they wake up and find no point in life anymore,” Dr. Ali said.

Each time a person wakes up with bipolar is tough enough, it is crucial that
they have the loving support of a family and friends. So in this paper, I decide
on getting a first hand account from the people who love me the most. I have
asked my parents, Barb and John Krepop, along with my girlfriend Meghan Patton,
various questions about how they feel about the disease and how they have
handled it. Both my parents and Meghan agree that they always sit back and
wonder if they are handling the situation properly and if they are helping it at
all. Meghan said, “Sometimes I worry that I am not handling it ok and that I
am not helping you. When we fight, I often worry that its my fault because
you cant help it.” She continues, “Sometimes I think we shouild break up.

Then at other times I see how we both help each other out and I know that I
would miss you.” “At times I wonder, its hard for me to let go, I want
what is best for you and maybe I do put too much pressure on you, but its
hard for me to step back,” said John Krepop. “Honestly, I was a bit
shocked,” said Meghan when asked about her reaction when I told her I suffered
from bipolar. “I really didnt know what it was, and I especially didnt
know how to deal with it. For a short while I wondered if I should end our
relationship, especially before we became to attached. I was afraid that because
you had it we would never have a normal relationship.” My dads reaction was
more of the same except he felt a little relief. “I felt relief because it
explained a lot of what you were doing and acting.