Bipolar Reading: How much is too much when researching aspects of our illness?

I’ve gone on a spree of reading about Bipolar Disorder lately. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to settle for general knowledge of a particular subject and when I latch onto a topic, I research it until I’ve exhausted almost all material.

It’s virtually impossible to read everything about bipolar because there is such a vast amount of published works out there. From medical professionals to bloggers like me, the information is endless. But how much is too much?

First I delved into An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. I didn’t identify with the work at all. I began to question my diagnosis. I even called my psychiatrist and asked to speak to him about my concerns. He said the particular type of Bipolar discussed in that book wasn’t the type I had. He told me not to worry. Of course I continued to.

Next, I purchased The Bipolar Relationship by Drs. John P. Blough and Bernard Golden and Nancy Rosenfeld. I didn’t really purchase this one for myself. Even though I did read it, I purchased it for my husband.

The Bipolar Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know made me feel like a burden on my immediate family. Am I truly that difficult to love and live with? I made it through about half the book before I put it down. I have no desire to finish it.

I began to understand what my doctor had told me. Not every Bipolar person is the same; some have extremely intense swings while others have milder versions.

I abstained from reading about Bipolar Disorder for a little while, then began again with a renewed desire to discover anything positive about the illness I, and so many others, grapple with daily.

The books with the most positive impact on me were Touched with Fire by Jamison and A First-Rate Madness by Nassir Ghaemi. These books renewed by desire to learn more. Ghaemi and Jamison address the long held thinking that connects creativity and Bipolar. I have always been a very creative person and could finally identify with some aspect of my illness.

All in all, much like most people who seek greater knowledge, I was left with more questions than answers. They are valid questions though. They are questions I will not stop trying to find the answers to.

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