As more and more celebrities talk openly about living with bipolar disorder, the diagnosis is not only becoming more common – it’s becoming downright popular. The March issue of The Psychiatrist carries an article entitled “‘I want to be bipolar’… a new phenomenon,” in which authors Diana Chan and Lester Sireling point out the following:
Despite the stigma attached to mental illness, we have noticed in our clinical practice a new and unusual phenomenon, where patients present to psychiatrists with self-diagnosed bipolar disorder.
Personally, I think the title of the article is a tad bit misleading. People don’t generally want serious medical conditions. A more accurate reason behind this phenomenon is that when people feel bad, they yearn for an explanation.
One of the symptoms of bipolar disorder is a lack of insight – an inability (not unwillingness) to notice a significant shift in one’s own mood or behavior. This happens most often during acute mood episodes – manic or depressed – but can be part of the bigger picture of living with the illness. Family members agonize over how to help someone who doesn’t want help, and they sometimes watch helplessly as the illness destroys their loved one’s life.