Scarlett Gill

@scarlett-gill | contributor
I have bipolar disorder and I have had both anorexia and bulimia. I have also worked supporting people who have mental health problems. I have degrees in Psychology and Social Work, and I am also qualified as a first responder, a fitness instructor and a gymnastics coach. I am a single mum of two amazing children and in my spare time, I am a pole dancer and aerialist
Scarlett Gill

What to Know If You're Unemployed Because of Mental Illness

First of all, you are amazing. You have the strength, courage and determination it takes to live with (and sometimes fight against) a mental illness every day. That is hard work in itself, and not something to be taken lightly. Whether you’ve never been able to work — or you’re just taking some time off — your value does not depend on what you do or don’t do. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. I know this now, but it took me a long time to learn. I have bipolar disorder and have battled with eating disorders for as long as I can remember, and yet regardless of how unwell I was, I always worked even when my life was at risk. For such a long time, I thought and was told that I was only worthwhile if I was working. But eventually I had to take time off. My mental health was being affected significantly, and at certain points my life was in danger. I could not cope with the pressure alongside everything else I was trying to manage at the time. I was taking time off due to hospital admissions, exhaustion and stress. I was even bullied at one job simply because I had mental health problems. We put so much pressure on ourselves and we are judged by others because of our mental health problems. Employment is just one of the areas in which we experience this. And yet, most of us don’t hesitate to take a sick day when we’re throwing up or battling an awful cold. Others would not expect us to show up if that were the case. The impact of mental health problems on all aspects of life, including employment, can be equally significant and should be treated no differently. Therefore, despite the pressures we put on ourselves and the expectations of many people, it is completely valid and acceptable to not work due to mental health. Currently, I’m lucky enough to be able to work part-time. This is only due to finally finding medications that work for me and because of the huge support and acceptance I’ve received from others, including my employers. I am no longer asked why I am not working, but I’m still often asked why I only work part-time. I still feel embarrassed and sometimes worthless because of this, and I feel like I have to justify myself a lot of the time. There is no way I could manage full-time work alongside maintaining my mental health. I would prefer to, as I would be better off financially, but it is just not an option for me right now. And I am learning to accept that. We need to give ourselves credit for what we do manage and not what we can’t — even if that is getting out of bed, making it out the house or simply surviving. I’m the same person I was when I did work full-time. I am the same person I was when I was unable to work at all. I am the same person whatever others may think, and I should not have to justify myself. I am strong, I have value and worth regardless of whether I work or not. And so do you.

Scarlett Gill

Trying to Understand a Person With Bipolar Disorder

When you have bipolar disorder, so many judgments are made about you both intentionally and unintentionally. Many people don’t even mean to do it, and they don’t mean it to upset you. Yet, it’s hard to separate the illness from the person. Regardless of my illness, I am a happy, impulsive, generally outgoing and optimistic person. I’m immature. (I never learned to “adult.”) I’m ditzy, and I love trying new things and taking on risks. Other times, I am sad, moody and irrational, and I just want to hide away, (Newsflash: I have PMS and bad days just like everyone else). Occasionally, I get angry, or I can just be an ass. Yet, it is difficult to be myself when everything gets attributed to my illness. Sometimes, I find it so hard to be understood. As someone with bipolar disorder, here’s what I say and what I mean: 1. When I say I’m happy, it is usually because I am happy. 2. When I say I’m sad, fed up, angry or annoyed it’s usually exactly that. 3. When I say I see something good in you, it’s because I do. 4. When I say you mean the world to me, I love you or I care about you, I really do. 5. When I ask for your help, I genuinely need it. I like to cope alone as much as possible. 6. When I say you hurt me, it’s because I feel hurt, but it doesn’t mean I can’t just forgive and move on. 7. When I say I can trust ýou, I believe I can and you can trust me too. 8. When I say I’m fine and I’m clearly not, I hope you will recognize the difference. 9. When I am unwell, I say and do things I don’t mean, and I hope you can forgive me. 10. Just talk to me! Talk to each other. Don’t assume. We all get it wrong. Just do your best, and we can probably all understand each other better. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Image via Thinkstock.

Scarlett Gill

What Is It Like to Love Somebody Who Has Bipolar Disorder?

What is it like to love somebody who has bipolar disorder? What specific challenges does it involve? Is it possible for it to work, or is it too much of a risk? And is it really worth it? Firstly, love isn’t always a choice. Sometimes we can’t help but love and care for family and friends, and often we don’t choose who we fall for romantically. And love is never easy: there are always obstacles, challenges and difficulties. Love is for better and for worse, in sickness and health, and some loves last for all eternity while others burn out leaving only hurt and memories behind. Any kind of love is a risk. You risk both your own heart and feelings and those of the other person — something that may be even more dangerous for an already fragile and vulnerable person. And something possibly unknown and scary to you. And I’m not just talking about romantic and intimate relationships. I’m talking best friends, family, other friends and even colleagues and people we are regularly in contact with. Well, here’s the thing. I’m not going to deny the issues. Bipolar disorder can be darn hard work! The constant worry, the reliance and sometimes over-reliance on you, the pressure on you to try and help us stay well. The amount of help we may need if we breakdown or become extremely unwell. The unreasonable things we may attempt to involve you in when we are manic or the hurt you may feel when we isolate ourselves. Then there are the ridiculous things you may need to protect us from and the guilt you may feel when you become involved in a distressing episode or hospital admission. And perhaps worst of all it must hurt like hell to watch someone you care about inflict serious harm upon themselves. But here comes my defense. People with bipolar disorder have a great deal to give. We are kind, we feel things more deeply than anyone else, we take you exactly as you are. There is nothing we hate more than feeling we have hurt someone else. We see beauty in the smallest of things, and we share that with you. We are funny, and we may be slightly wild. You will never get bored of us. We have been through hell several times, so we are pretty much unshockable. You can tell us anything and we won’t judge you. We will also never break your trust as we know too well how that feels. We can love you at your best and your worst, and we will stand by through anything whether or not you are right or wrong. And though it may feel like it at times we don’t actually expect you to “fix” us and we do know you can’t always help. And that’s OK too. We love you for who you are, and we just want you to love us. The bipolar is a part of us and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Yes, it can be so hard to live with. But people with bipolar have so much love to give, and I do believe that despite the challenges it is possible to love us back. After all, there is no limit on the love we can give or receive. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by Medioimages/Photodisc

Scarlett Gill

What the Isolation That Comes With Mental Illness Feels Like

Most people know what it’s like to feel isolated. At some point in our lives, nearly all of us have felt alone, left out or not included. For many people, this is a temporary feeling or something they have experienced in specific situations. For somebody with mental health problems, the feeling of being isolated may be overwhelming, more permanent and may affect everything. As someone who has always had mental health problems, I know what it’s like to feel isolated only too well. I have been and continue to be excluded from many groups of people, sometimes intentionally and sometimes probably unintentionally. Even when I am included, I usually feel it is only to a certain extent and sometimes because people feel sorry for me or feel obliged to include me. Believe me when I say, I am fully aware of this, and it hurts. It’s also not just about feeling excluded by others either. The very nature of my illness leads to me often isolating myself. When I am feeling depressed, I often feel unable to be around others. I often feel like they won’t understand, and this leads to me feeling more isolated. Sometimes, I feel too anxious and low to even leave the house. I may avoid people or situations completely for fear of breaking down, panicking or not being able to manage. Also, I often want to protect others from my illness. I don’t want people who I care about to see me or have to deal with me at my worst. It doesn’t stop there. At times, I can be around other people, but I still feel isolated. Again, that’s part of my illness and anxiety about not being good enough. It may also be because I fear I will be rejected or excluded if I try to get too close to others. Sometimes, it’s just that I am so unwell I am unable to engage with other people in my usual way, as I am probably struggling to breathe or to stay in one place. For me, feeling isolated is one of the most distressing things about my illness. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are completely alone in the world. Now, I understand I can be difficult to be around sometimes because of my illness, and I know I often isolate myself. It doesn’t feel good at all, and I guess it’s difficult to understand. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think increased awareness may help. I hope others can relate to this. I also hope I have given people some insight into what isolation may feel like to somebody with mental health problems. Image via Thinkstock. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Scarlett Gill

What to Know About Severe Anxiety and Panic Attacks

I’d like to let you know how my anxiety and panic attacks affect me. I would like to explain why I can’t leave the house sometimes, why I might seem unreliable and why I might have to cancel plans at last minute. I’d also like you to know how you can help. Firstly, I want you to understand what severe anxiety and panic attacks feel like. Anxiety is not about feeling nervous or worried about something. It’s more extreme and it affects me both physically and mentally. Severe anxiety is ongoing. It can last for hours, even days. These are the times I find it hard, even impossible to function. Panic attacks only last a short time, but they are more extreme and can happen anywhere, usually completely unexpectedly. They are terrifying, both for me and for those unlucky enough to be around me when they happen. Both severe anxiety and panic attacks are awful, crushing experiences that feel like someone is piling paving stones on my chest or like there is a massive snake wrapped around me squeezing tighter and tighter. Then I often feel like I can’t get enough air, may faint, or become frozen to the spot. I always get to the floor asap and stay there until I am OK again. Sometimes I need medication, and sometimes I need someone on the phone with me. Sometimes it’s a combination of both. And sometimes, perhaps surprisingly, I need to be alone. After severe attacks I am usually exhausted. I am unable to drive or do much at all. This means I often have to change plans at last minute. I feel exhausted and I feel like a mess. Oh, I look a mess too: such a pretty picture of a ghost like complexion, red eyes and mascara smudged down my face. I sometimes need help to breathe, to calm down and to get me to a safe place. For a while after a panic attack or after a period of severe anxiety, I may need to rest completely. I may need to be alone. I may not be able to maintain contact with everyone immediately. This does not mean I do not think of you or that I care about you any less. If I can leave the house, I may need to stick to very familiar places and only be with a very small number of people I can trust unconditionally. I hope I have helped you to understand severe anxiety and panic attacks and how they may affect me and others. As I have described, they can be horrific experiences both while they are happening and afterward. So I am genuinely sorry if during and after these times I cannot function properly. Again this may feel to you like I am making excuses, like I am avoiding you, or like I am letting you down. I’m really don’t mean to. It is just a part of my condition I have to live with. I really hope you can live with it too.

Scarlett Gill

Why I Can't Work With Bipolar Disorder

“What do you do?” This is one of the first questions you’re asked whenever you meet someone new. For me, it is one of the questions I dread. We seem to be so focused on what job we hold, as if we are defined by it and like it is who we are. People also tend to judge others who aren’t working, as if we are all the same. People who aren’t working are judged as being lazy. When I say I don’t work anymore, I see the looks of horror and disdain in people’s eyes. I wait for the interrogation that always follows. I think I need to explain myself to anyone who asks. The worst thing about it is I desperately want to be able to work, but you see, I’m can’t. Here’s why: 1. My illness is unpredictable. Some days, I can function reasonably well. Other days, not so much and some days, not at all. 2. I am unable to maintain stability for long enough to work. I have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. I am lucky to get three months stability between episodes. 3. Stress and tiredness make my illness worse. I might be able to work two or three shifts. However, this would impact my health and I would spend days or even weeks recovering. 4. I am unreliable due to my illness. I cannot maintain consistency as my moods fluctuate so much. 5. I have anxiety and panic attacks. Some days, I can’t even leave my house because of this. I’m worse in public, especially if I don’t have someone with me. 6. I often need to be somewhere familiar and with someone I trust. I need this to manage my anxiety and to help keep myself safe. 7. I have problems eating. If I’m not at home to eat, I need to be with someone who I trust. Otherwise, I panic and am often unable to eat at all. 8. My medication has bad side effects, including a tremor and extreme tiredness. I have to sleep a lot more than normal, including during the day to function. My medication and my illness often prevent me from driving too, which is very restrictive. 9. I must keep regular appointments with my mental health professionals. This helps to help to maintain my mental health and/or to prevent further deterioration if I am unwell. This is vital. A missed appointment can at worst lead to a hospital admission. Which brings me on to one of the main reasons I can’t hold a job down: 10. I have to sometimes be admitted to hospital and crisis units. These inpatient admissions have been and are sometimes necessary when I become unwell either with mania, depression or eating issues (whether I like it or not and sometimes whether I cooperate or not.) I have about three admissions a year on average, each lasting anywhere between three days and six weeks. So despite very much wanting to work, I hope I have been able to explain some of the reasons why I can’t. Oh and before anyone judges me for not trying, can I just mention I have tried being in employment many, many times. I have worked on and off since the age of 16 in various jobs including shop work, bar work, support work, dancing, cashiering, waitressing, modeling, reception work, teaching fitness, assisting teachers, assisting other people with health problems, working as a first responder and administration. You name it, I’ve probably done it. I also managed to do half of my nursing training before having to drop out due to my illness. I have two degrees, one in psychology and one in social work amongst numerous other qualifications. Clearly, I’m not totally unqualified and obviously, I’m always trying. I do what I can when I can. I’m also a mum, which obviously comes first and foremost. Although, I wish I could work to provide more for my children. But maintaining anything? Or getting an employer to take a chance on me in the first place? That’s pretty tough. So next time please, don’t be so quick to judge someone who isn’t working. There may be many good reasons. It certainly doesn’t mean they don’t want to.

Scarlett Gill

What People Should Know About Suicide Attempts

Editor’s note : If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Here’s the first thing you have to know — it’s unlikely anyone who attempts suicide is doing so to hurt someone else. Most people think that by dying or trying to die, they are saving you some pain and hurt. Did you know a person dies by suicide every 12.3 minutes in the United States? Did you also know suicide is 100 percent preventable and everyone can help? My first suicide attempt was different than how I thought it would be. I was 16. I’d lost too many people close to me. I’d been kicked out by those who remained. I’d been used by those I ran to for help. I was a full-fledged anorexic, bulimic bipolar ball of chaos and one day I exploded. It was my sweet 16. I drank a shot of every spirit at the bar. (They knew me well.) I took pills. I sat down in the street cutting myself and I waited to die. I even passed out, but I did wake up. I was sick and dizzy. I was worried by this point. I wasn’t dead, no, but I was in pain. A friend and a tutor from college were looking for me. They found everything. She rang an ambulance but then put me in her car. I was rushed to emergency room. They got my mom and I cried. I spent four days receiving treatment in the hospital, and on the fourth day I started to recover suddenly. So the psychiatric liaison team came. They said I would be fine. The truth is I wouldn’t be “fine.” I would go on to take a number of significant overdoses, jump off a bridge and try other ways to make sure my life ended. I would be sectioned three times before I got real treatment. I would hit rock bottom so many times I thought I would never climb back up. At one point, I would spend more than a year in a hospital for eating disorders. What family I had left gave up on me, but I wasn’t done fighting. I know now my symptoms of bipolar disorder were being left untreated. It took me years to get proper treatment for my eating disorder, but I’ve come out on the other side. It took a lot of hard work but I have done it. I hope I can stay here longer. The truth about suicide is it isn’t beautiful or courageous. It’s not dramatic or glamorous. It’s ugly and sickly. It’s being sick until you can’t be sick anymore. It’s your organs shutting down one by one and it’s a long painful process. People try and end their lives for so many different reasons. It means they are in deep distress and they can’t see any other way out. Often, we are sending out cries for help. Try and help even if it’s hard. Find that person and get them help. Save a life. Image via Thinkstock. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741 . If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

Scarlett Gill

Why I Tell My Children About My Bipolar Disorder

This is a controversial topic. Some people say I am wrong for sharing details of my illness with my children. Some people see this as me “not protecting” them from my illness. Some say I should never have had children as a woman with bipolar disorder, which can be hereditary. To all those people, I say read my story first. To them, I say get to know my children, get to know the kind, intelligent, beautiful girls I am privileged to be able to call my daughters. Read my reasons for telling them about my mental health issues. I strongly believe that the unknown is nearly always scarier than the known. Yes, there are some really scary stories about mental health issues out there. Yet, having facts and some understanding can make it less frightening and therefore, more easy to process and deal with. Obviously, this needs to be at an age-appropriate level. When my children were younger, I told them sometimes my illness makes me feel like Tigger, very happy and full of energy for no reason. Other times, it makes mom sad and tired for no reason. I told them these things happened to me and it wasn’t because of anything they did or didn’t do. There. That’s it. A simple explanation, which tries to make a bit of sense out of my illness. It also reassures them mom’s illness is not related to their behavior. Now my girls are teenagers. They have a greater understanding. They ask questions and they do their own research. They meet the professionals involved in my care and they know it is the professionals’ job to help me. Having said that, yes, they do help me. They help in the house. They give me cuddles when I’m down. They help just by being themselves. We love each other unconditionally. I am not saying it is always easy for them, for me or anyone else involved. Of course, I wish I could do more and do it consistently for them. I wish I could earn more money to take them on more holidays and days out. For them, I know it is difficult if I have to go into hospital or the crisis unit. They miss me, just as I miss them when this happens. However, they have a brilliant dad, who already does so much for them and steps up further when I am unwell. We have joint custody and are very close anyway, living a few doors from each other to limit disruption to the children. Up until recently, they also had a wonderful grandma in my mom, who supported them practically and emotionally. Over the years, they have had good teachers who have also been there for them. I also have some amazing friends who do what they can to help both me and the children. Regarding the point about some illnesses having a hereditary aspect, mental health issues are common. We’ve all heard the “1 in 4 people will be affected” statistic. We are all at risk. Of course, it would break my heart should either of my children become unwell in any way, physically or mentally. I would like to think because of my own experiences, I would be able to support them in every way possible, regardless of anything that could happen. In many ways, they are equipped to deal with some adversity already. Due to my illness, my children have had to learn resilience, which is not a bad thing. I’ve also already noticed how nonjudgmental they are and how they are able to emphathize with others. Recently, I was told my eldest daughter sat with an older girl who was having a panic attack. My daughter had stayed with her and helped the girl manage her anxiety. My daughter made sure the girl was safe and able to return to class. This makes me proud. I’ve noticed neither of my children are ashamed of me or my illness. It’s not a massive deal to them and the stigma isn’t being passed on through my children. They will both quite happily say, “Oh yeah, my mom has bipolar disorder. Do you have any questions?” This is exactly how I think it should be. Finally, I’d like to say in no way are my daughters missing out. My older daughter is academic and achieves top grades at school, alongside a small group of very good friends. Aside from that, we send her to drama school on weekends, as she has a beautiful singing voice. She would like to work in musical theater because as she says, “It makes everyone feel something and be happy.” My younger daughter is a talented gymnast, cheerleader and artist. She is a beautiful little girl who does well at school and has a large circle of friends. They both make me and their dad proud of them every day and everyone who meets them thinks they are bright, polite, lovely girls. They are all this, in spite of having a mum with bipolar disorder and other mental health issues. Most importantly, they are happy. We must be doing something right. Don’t judge me for being a mom with mental health issues. Don’t tell me I’m doing it all wrong by telling my children about these issues. So far they are doing just fine, thanks.

Scarlett Gill

What Not to Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder

I have personal experience of eating disorders, and have fought anorexia and bulimia since the age of 10. I have been hospitalized many times and I almost lost my life. I have also supported and continue to support several friends with eating disorders. I have lost three people to eating disorders. Eating disorders are notoriously difficult to talk about and to treat. They can have a devastating effect on both the individual with the illness and all those who care for them. Maybe you’re someone with anorexia, bulimia or another disorder, and you feel like the people close to you keep saying all the wrong things. Maybe you’re a family member or friend of a person with an eating disorder and you’re struggling to know what to say. Eating disorders can appear to change a person. A seriously distorted body image and/or a lack of nutrition affects the way people think and how they see themselves. People with eating disorders may appear emotionally (as well as physically) fragile. They may be extremely sensitive, particularly around issues relating to food, size and body weight. They are in many ways being controlled by the eating disorder which distorts thinking and may want to push the person away from anyone who cares about them. Family and friends usually do want to help, but eating disorders do not make sense to them. Why on earth would someone not eat? Why would someone want to look so skinny and ill? Why is their body image so distorted? Don’t these people get hungry? Why is my loved one hurting themselves and everyone around them like this? Why is my loved one starving themselves to death? Often people seem to not know what to say to someone with an eating disorder. So they either say nothing or completely the wrong thing, unintentionally causing distress to the person with the eating disorder. So let’s start with what not to say. 1. “But you don’t look ‘anorexic’ — it can’t be that bad.” Nooo! Weight loss is just one aspect of anorexia. People who have bulimia or binge eating disorder may be at “normal” weight for their body type, or even overweight. Weight can fluctuate massively and quickly. Also, many people with an eating disorder hide under baggy clothes and layers. You probably don’t know what they weigh — and it’s not about weight anyway. 2. “It’s your own fault.” It might appear that way, but the person is mentally unwell. The eating disorder is controlling their thoughts and behavior. They don’t want this to be happening to them either. 3. “Let me tell you about my diet…” Yes, you may be on a diet, but now is not the time to mention it. Yes, some celebrity may look fantastic in her bikini, but don’t even go there — please. I’m looking for examples of how to have a good relationship with food. Healthy eating is OK, but please don’t label foods as “bad” or talk about losing weight in front of the person with the eating disorder. Unintentionally, this may cause further distorted thinking and damage. 4. “Oh, you look better since you’ve gained weight!” I appreciate this is a difficult one. This is what you want to see and possibly want to say, but when you say this, a person with an eating disorder might hear, “I look like I’ve gained weight? Well I’m fat. I need to lose even more.” Also, it’s worth noting in both eating disorders and other mental health disorders, it can be unhelpful to simply comment on how the person “looks” as this can invalidate how unwell the person feels. 5. “Wow, you lost weight and you look amazing!” You don’t know how they have lost the weight. Even if the person is recovered, it’s still a risk. Body image distortion and eating disorders tend to remain kicking around in the background even when recovered. Also, once again, the person is being judged on weight. This is not good. The words, “You look amazing,” are fine, but saying “You are amazing,” is even better. 6. “People around the world are starving, and you are doing this on purpose?” Yes, there are people starving due to lack of food and that is tragic. But your loved one is starving due to severe mental illness. This is also tragic and not comparable. This sort of thing just makes people feel guilty. 7. “I don’t care anymore,” or “I can’t deal with you anymore.” Now, I know it can be challenging loving someone with an eating disorder. I really do. But please, don’t walk away from your loved one. Remember they are unwell. They are not doing this on purpose. They need your love more than ever. 8. Nothing. Don’t be tempted to say nothing. This will not fix it. Your loved one is seriously ill and that cannot be ignored. It’s absolutely fine to talk about other things too, but don’t try and pretend like it isn’t happening. Say something. Say you are worried, Say you want to help. Ask what you can do and be prepared to listen. Do your research. Talk to the professionals. Don’t give up on them. With the right help and care, people can get better. They deserve to get better. You deserve your loved one back. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

Scarlett Gill

Concerns With the Increased Exposure of Bipolar Disorder

I recently saw a quote on Facebook that said something like, “I had bipolar before it was cool.” That really made me think. Is it cool now to have bipolar disorder? Is it fashionable or glamorous in some way? Recently, there appears to have been an increased awareness of bipolar disorder, at least as a diagnoses and as a mental health condition. An increase in the number of celebrities revealing their illness, along with the dramatization of bipolar disorder on television and the increased use (or misuse) of the word “bipolar,” has undoubtedly brought the illness into the public eye. I’m not necessarily suggesting this does or does not equal increased knowledge, understanding and support of bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions.  However, I do have some concerns. 1. When people make incorrect statements about bipolar disorder. Statements such as “Oh, I’m so bipolar,” or “The weather is bipolar today.” I hear these things often and I hate it. Not only are statements like these inaccurate, they also have a way of devaluing or even dismissing what it is really like to have bipolar disorder. 2. When bipolar disorder becomes glamorized because of celebrities with the illness. It’s great that celebrities like Britney Spears, Stephen Fry, Carrie Fisher, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Lovato and Catherine Zeta Jones have revealed their experiences with bipolar disorder. Hopefully, this helps to destigmatize the illness and raise awareness. My concern here is anything celebrities do or say is at risk of becoming glamorized and popular. Mental illness is not glamorous in any way and it’s not a good thing to have this in common with any celebrity. Also, while this shows bipolar disorder can affect anyone, there is a danger in that everyone’s experiences are different. Being compared to famous people may not be helpful or realistic for most people. For example, ordinary people may not be able to afford treatment that stars have access to. Also, while it may be becoming acceptable for an actor or singer to have bipolar, this does not necessarily mean that ordinary people and their illnesses are accepted. Many people feel the need to hide their bipolar disorder from family, friends, employers and the rest of society for fear of prejudice and discrimination (which is justified). Basically, what I’m saying is bipolar disorder affects different people in different ways. Don’t compare us all to celebrities we have nothing else in common with. 3. When television misrepresents bipolar disorder. It’s a good thing that bipolar disorder is being addressed in soaps and other television series. Examples of bipolar characters include Carrie in “Homeland” and Stacey in “Eastenders.” When handled well, this can help raise awareness and get people talking about bipolar disorder. Again though, there is a risk of this glamorizing the illness and in some cases trivializing bipolar disorder and its impact. It could also go the other way, scaring both people who have bipolar and those who know someone with the illness. Most mentally ill people are no danger to others, though this may make for a more dramatic story line. Also, remember, not everyone with bipolar disorder is the young, attractive woman on television. While it’s awesome that some people feel able to reveal their own struggles with bipolar disorder and other mental health issues, it’s also important to remember everyone with bipolar is completely different, even if some of the symptoms are the same. It’s also vital to look past what may appear to be glamorous, fun or misrepresentative to the reality of living with bipolar disorder or any other serious illness. Bipolar disorder can ruin lives (or at least makes them more challenging). Everyone functions differently and the illness can impact people differently. One thing is for sure though: There is nothing cool about having bipolar disorder.