19 December 2006

The Bipolar Handbook

When I first saw the title of The Bipolar Handbook by Wes Burgess, I thought "Oh great, a book on how to be Bipolar!" A little tongue-in-cheek, I know, but I've read several books on Bipolar Disorder and some are better than others. I don't need a book that is going to help me be Bipolar -- I do that well enough by myself! -- I need a book that is going to help me live successfully anyway. I think I've found the book.

Written in an easy to follow, question & answer format, this book takes a couple of unorthodox approaches. For one thing, Burgess considers bipolar depression to be a different animal than unipolar depression. He teaches that it shouldn't be treated with anti-depressants, but with mood stabilizers and atypical anti-psychotics. Burgess contends that anti-depressants actually contribute to the cycling in and out of mania. He also says that successfully treating bipolar disorder should successfully treat anxiety, too (something I struggle constantly with).

There are also sections on interpersonal relationships, getting along at work, the difference in the tons of meds that may be prescribed, and national and internet resources. I've learned a lot about myself and my disorder through this book. I've learned that what I previously thought were character defects -- anxiety, procrastination, my need for sleep -- are actually characteristics of my disorder. In fact, it seemed as though the whole first chapter was written just for me. I kept taking the book into the office and interrupting my husband, John, saying, "Honey, listen to this!" or "Does this remind you of anyone we know? (meaning me)" and reading paragraphs at a time to him. Now, he's reading it for himself, in an effort to know my situation better.

If you have trouble with a mood disorder or if you know someone who does, get this book. It will help you understand the disorder much better.

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