New to the Site? Start Here…

When my life started to spiral out of my control, I didn’t know the cause. All I knew was that everything I did and every bit of self-control and discipline I exerted made no difference.My close relationship with my family was disintegrating, I was seeing my friends less and less, and work was something I frequently dreaded to go to. I often felt tired or restless for days on end.

And then there were the odd periods when I would disappear for a few days. Definitely not normal.

I knew things weren’t normal, but strongly resisted going to see a psychiatrist. After all, I wasn’t crazy or mentally ill. It was just that I was having a difficult time with the amount of work I was doing, or I had just finished a project and I was tired, or I needed some time alone away from people, or…well, there was always a reasonable excuse.

But one day, after a period in which everything had gone horribly wrong, more…


If you are here, then chances are that there’s stuff going wrong in your life. It could be that you were just diagnosed with mood swings, or with bipolar disorder, or depression and you are thinking “What happens next? What do I do next?”

Or it could be you feel that something is wrong with you, that you might suffer from depression or some other kind of mood stuff, but you aren’t really sure what is going on, or if even it is all in your head.

Or it could be that your boyfriend, or partner, or spouse, or friend has odd patterns of behaviour or has stopped communicating with you, and you aren’t sure what is going on or what to do next.

You are not alone.


The purpose of this award winning website is to give you information so you can figure out if the things you are going through might be related to mood swings, or depression, or mania. This will help you understand yourself, or your child or parent, or why your partner or the person you are going out with is behaving the way they do.


If you do have mood swings, you’ll learn what kinds of things might go wrong, what you can do to try to stop them from happening, and how to recover gracefully if things do indeed go wrong. And instead of providing vague suggestions, the website offers specific, practical ways to deal with problems. This covers everything from dealing with medication to how to handle a relationship with a depressed boyfriend.

real life.

The descriptions here are not in confusing medical terms, but in simple language describing the living, daily, real details of our lives. After all, if you can’t figure out how to get the ideas and suggestions here to work in your life, they’re not much good.

This website is written by someone who was diagnosed as bipolar in 1996, who has had mood swings since the age of 17, who has put up with all the frustrations that the changing moods can cause in daily life, and who is aware how much the mood swings affect family, partners, and friends.

the bottom line.

Here’s the bottom line: The mood swings are survivable. You can learn to manage your life and the mood swings. If you get the hang of managing your life, you can be successful enough, satisfied with your life, and happy. Really.

the price.

There is a price, of course. You do need to accept that you have mood swings. You will need to pay attention to and understand what is happening to you daily.  And you will need to make the conscious effort to take control of your actions when things start to go awry.

And yes, it will take time to get to get your stuff together, measured in years. And it’s a frustrating journey. So expect that.

no magic solutions.

I’d like to tell you there is a magic solution. But so far, there are no magical pills or actions that will properly stabilise our moods. There are some lucky people for whom the medications will work well, but for a lot of us that won’t be true.

What you’ll find is that you will have to discover some medications that work somewhat, plus you’ll have to make changes to your habits to minimise the mood swings. The amount of changes may be a lot or a bit depending on who you are and how severe your mood swings are. It turns out that the people close you will also have to make a few changes to adapt to you as well.

Finally, it will probably do you good to get therapy to sort out the problems the mood swings have caused over the years.

It’s a lot of work. But it’s also your life. Remember that. And life really can become pretty great.

The website is pretty darned large.
You can find information in the following sections:


The Bipolar Diary describes a span of my life from about 1997 to 2003, from diagnosis to relative stability, and is a blog before blogs even existed.  The Diary is the core of this website, and I’ve been told many times that there is nothing else like it on the web. You can start reading the Diary here.


The Symptoms section lists the signs of mania and depression, in plain, easy to understand English. This is what it’s really like to be depressed or manic. This section also has the official symptoms of bipolar disorder, as well as diagnostic worksheets that are used to measure mania and depression (to be added soon). If you think you might be showing signs of depression or mania, start in this section.


The Coping section contains the strategies I use to cope with being bipolar. Some of these strategies deal directly with dealing with mania or depression symptoms, others deal with stepping back and looking at the big picture on how to organise and distress your life so that the mood swings don’t, er, drive you crazy. Check also under the Family and Friends section.


Wondering about taking medications? Wondering if they will work, or what the side effects might be like? The Drugs section has my ideas on this, as well as my experiences with specific drugs and the information the doctors don’t quite get around to telling you about the drugs.


The Doctors section contains information about how you might get over the embarrassment of going to a psychiatrist, and why you should see one. Or if you’ve started seeing one – here’s what to expect, what to ask for, and what not to put up with. Contains ideas on how to get your child or spouse to a psychiatrist as well.

family and friends

If your child, spouse, sibling, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, parent or friend is bipolar, you suffer almost as much as they do. This section contains an insight on what it’s like for us and also things you can do to help us, and yourself.

other ways to get around the site.

  1. You can use the menus on the top right of the page where the information is ordered into neat categories.
  2. You can use the tag cloud on the right to look for specific words you might be interested in.
  3. You can use the search box on the left (but don’t look for ‘depression’ or ‘mania’ – you’ll get every page on the site).

6 thoughts on “New to the Site? Start Here…”

  1. I remember reading this on your Diary. That story makes me remember that being diagnosed could be a loooong journey. I went to 4~5 different psychiatrists, and 3 psychologists (and I am not counting all the blood tests, EEG, MRI, etc. that doctors made me take), since I was 16 (now I am 26), before getting the Bipolar II diagnosis last year… not a very nice diagnosis, but it was the only one that made sense and the only medications that had worked for me. Sometimes I want to make a website or blog just like yours, there’s so many things one could share with other people with the disorder, or friends or family of those people.

    1. Well if I’m going to get started on this “Journey shaped by Circumstance” I guess this is a good place to start. Any tips for a rookie?

      1. Bruce,

        Sorry, about the delay.

        Tips for rookies.

        Step 1: If your life is currently in a mess, stop stressing.

        Well, yeah, it’ll still be a mess, but the only way you can sort it out is piece by piece. You will probably have about 5-10 things which have gone critical and you need to deal with, but you’ll STILL only be able to sort them out one by one.

        Make a list of the critical items, start with item 1, then stop fussing about the ones you aren’t doing. You’ll get to them.

        Great. I’ve said this, but it is surprisingly hard to do. But try.

        Step 2: Start plotting your moods. If you don’t know what is happening to you, you can’t fix it.

        You’ll need either (a) An appointment book which has 1 day per page or (b) a notepad. Either works. I used to use an appointment book, but now I use a notepad.

        If you haven’t already, see these links Setting up a Mood Chart: Signs of Mania: Signs of Depression:

        Yes, the stuff will be scrappy and messy. Yes there will be days with no entries or partial entries. That’s normal.

        It will take anywhere from about 2 weeks to about 1 month to get data that is useful in allowing you to make decisions or choices. Persevere.

        Step 3: Tell your family to lay off your back!!! Just because you are diagnosed, you will not magically get better.

        Assume it will take you the better part of 2-3 months to at put a stop to the process of your life unravelling. And then it will take more months to get things back onto something like an even keel.

        This sounds like a damper, but that’s how it is. It can be annoying to have friends and family members assume that things will be all hunky dory and normal now that you are diagnosed and taking the meds.

        Your response should be something like “I’ve am really ill and I’m recovering. My research indicates that having a depression episode (meltdown, nervous breakdown, etc.) is like have a major injury and takes months to heal. I may look physically ok, but that doesn’t show the real problems. Would appreciate if you could stop assuming that I am back to normal.”

        Step 4: Take your meds. They may or may not work, but it’s a good place to start.

        Step 5: You are in charge. Now that you know that things are wrong, it’s gonna be up to you to steer your course. The doctors and psychiatrists and others are going to be resource people along the way, offering good advice and experience, but you are going to have to be the one deciding what to do.

        I’ll see if I can start writing a primer for you. My project for the next 6 months. Feel free to ask questions or make comments as I go along. (ps: a variant of this comment is going to become my next posting).


        On 7 January 2013 19:57, LivingManicDepressive

  2. Thanks so much for this site. I just found it and am finding it quite useful. Could you please post something on women with bipolar disorder and PMS. This is something I struggle a great deal with – being very down with terrible symptoms and unable to take appropriate painkillers because they trigger mania.

  3. Thanks so much for this site, and sorry for my english, I’m new and I feel similarities with your statement and posts, 2011 has been diagnosed bipolar and as I got older that my symptoms are more pronounced, I feel that I need help, and I’m trying to get back to start therapy.

  4. Wow thanks for this site ,I thought I was going crazy. .a piece u write about eppilum increase and side effects is just me I’m right there and battling along sick nausea and very sensitive to meds and a dr that won’t really listen..or I’m embarrassed to say again it’s not working as i just had to stop increase in quitiapine because it paralyzed me physically. ..any more suggestions?
    I’d much appreciate it

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