Recently we wrote a post about Bipolar Disorder. An introduction to the illness, what it looks like, and what you can do to help or get help if it is impacting your life or the life of someone you love. We left you with one key piece of advice that is pertinent to any diagnosis you might be dealing with. Get educated about the illness so you can separate the illness from the person.
As in any other area of life, when it comes to mental illness, knowledge is power. Arming yourself with knowledge of your illness is a wonderful way to feel empowered, to become your own advocate, and to let go of any personal bias or stigma that might be standing between you and recovery. Shame, fear, misunderstanding, these things often cause people to wait years after first onset to get the help and treatment that can dramatically improve their quality of life. Arming yourself with knowledge is the best way we know to break through these barriers.
With this in mind, I would like to leave you with some excellent online resources about Bipolar Disorder. These sites and organizations have in-depth, up to date information about Bipolar Disorder written with the patient in mind. They are a great first step to arming yourself with the facts.
(Actress Amanda Eaton portrays Rose, a young woman struggling to deal with Bipolar Disorder and self injury, in our college show Facing the Rain)
- Just Diagnosed? The Depression Bipolar Support Alliance(DBSA) walks newly diagnosed patients through the basics of mood disorders.
- For their great primer on Bipolar Disorder, go here.
- DBSA is an excellent resource for patients, offering peer counseling and support groups, a user friendly and interactive website, and tons of helpful links and advice on navigating mood disorders like Depression and Bipolar Disorder.
- For three decades, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has established itself as the most formidable grassroots mental health advocacy organization in the country. They have state organizations in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and DC. Go here to find your local NAMI office.
- In Chicago NAMI-GC offers a wonderful, and free, 12 week program to help educate family and friends about mental illness. The course is offered in both English and Spanish.
- The National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) The mission of NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. The site has detailed and up-to-date information about most major mental illnesses.
- NIMH also offers a series of publications about each disorder free to the public. This page lists their publications about Bipolar Disorder, including a useful booklet for parents with children or teens who have been diagnosed.
All of the sites linked to also have very helpful and extensive links sections for further research and guidance. Everything you need to empower yourself with knowledge of (and by extension power over) Bipolar Disorder is merely a click away.