I was worried what others thought about bipolar disorder and what their, whether it be those around me, or the general public, impressions were. I don't have bipolar, but do have friends with it and have met many people through therapy and at the hospital with it that I just wasn't able to make a connection between what I see in them versus the character in the film. After I was done with the film and was researching a bit, I think the main difference that stopped me from connecting was Bradley Cooper's character, Pat, has some psychosis (delusions, in this case) as well.
Those of you who don't have a lot of experience with bipolar disorder, there's five different diagnoses. The most common is Bipolar II, with Bipolar I being second. Bipolar I is a swing between states of depression and mania, Bipolar II, mania is replaced with hypomania (a less intense form). I think most people know what depression symptoms can be like, mania being basically the opposite: excessive happiness, hopefulness, and excitement, restlessness, increased energy, and less need of sleep. Mania can also give you sudden changes from being joyful to being irritable, angry, and hostile.
Then comes the psychosis part. Taken from Julie Fast at Healthyplace.com, some percentages.
- Bipolar psychosis is always attached to either mania or depression. It doesn't exist on its own.
- Up to 70% of people in a full blown manic episode experience psychosis. (People with Bipolar II rarely experience psychosis.)
- Though studies vary, it's estimated that 50% of people with bipolar depression experience psychosis. Though it's more common in severe depression, it can be present in moderate depression as well.
I think every person with bipolar that I've known has Bipolar II, and psychosis wasn't something that came or comes up. My worry is taking a very popular film like Silver Linings Playbook, not doing the research on a diagnosis the main character had, and making an assumption that because someone has bipolar, no matter which form, they are going to be psychotic as well. I have a real fear of psychosis - not those who have it, but more a fear of if I ever were to lose touch with reality myself.
There's a specific scene where Cooper's and Lawrence's characters are discussing which medications they take or took (Lithium, Seroquel, Abilify, Xanax, Effexor, Klonopin, & Trazodone), all of which I've taken at one time or am currently taking as well. Again, I almost constantly worry about what others think, and even though I tweeted and made a status about that connection last night, thinking it was kind of funny at the time... I now worry someone's going to make a connection of me with a character who doesn't have much of anything in common with me.
However, I do have to commend David O. Russell (screenplay writer/director) on how bipolar was treated throughout. Again, my worries are much more pointed at how it's perceived by others, not what Russell did himself. The family of Pat is supporting without being preachy, and shows their struggle as well as Pat's. Russell was also able to be comedic about it. I think being able to laugh at mental illnesses, without invalidating what they are and how people have to deal with them, is extremely helpful to those who are going through it.