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How do these symptoms affect the loved ones of these people? Parents, siblings, friends, and co-workers see these individuals pass between depression and mania, and they see what a toll it takes on them.

One of the realities for the loved ones is they begin to understand that they cannot expect the person to always be consistent; they know the mood and behavior can significantly change.

From a distance, I'd seen how much energy it took Nyla to keep her episodes under control: weekly doctor's visits, blood tests, complicated regimens of medications.

And yet for all their problems, my bipolar buddies had always kept things interesting.

Take my friend Jerome, hired one summer to drive a van full of rich and annoying European teenagers across the country. I didn't hear Sara's story until later, but it didn't have many funny parts.

Somewhere in the Midwest, without telling the kids or his employer or anyone else where he was going, he simply got out at a gas station and walked away. Her condition was rooted in a childhood depression that began when her father died suddenly of stomach cancer. Then came her diagnosis, and years of experimenting with different psychiatric drugs until her doctors found the magic combination.

The disorder is typically managed by daily medication and talk therapy.

Again, we’re not constantly at one of two extremes – there are also periods of feeling ‘normal’, which allow us to process things more sensibly, and think clearly.

The word ‘manic’ is incredibly daunting, and possibly not the best word to describe the actual symptoms.

There are common misconceptions surrounding what to expect when you have a friend or partner with bipolar disorder.

Of course, everyone suffers and deals with bipolar differently, and there are many different types on the spectrum, with Type 1 and 2 being most common.