Re: “Bipolar GI liked manic feeling of his disorder” (TNT, 1-1).
The headline regarding the tragic murder suicide of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier disturbed me. The diagnosis of bipolar disorder carries enough negative stigma without highlighting it in a case which also may have involved post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse.
I wonder what percentage of those suffering from bipolar disorder act out in such a violent way. I suspect the percentage is no greater than in the general population. Psychosis and mania are potentially dangerous, but can be managed with counseling and medication.
My son was diagnosed in 2000 with bipolar disorder. Today he is a licensed mental health counselor. Like a diabetic, he must take his medication to function normally. His dosage must be monitored by a psychiatrist, and a counselor monitors his moods.
Every time a high-profile case is exploited by the media, law-abiding bipolar sufferers and their caretakers cringe. The National Alliance for Mental Illness works tirelessly to support clients and their families to fight stigma.
Reintegration after a psychotic break takes time and patience, but wellness is attainable. The medications can have debilitating side effects, hence the reluctance on the part of some to take their meds.
Families, employers and friends of those suffering from bipolar disorder need not fall prey to fear. There is much to learn from those who successfully manage their illness.