Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive

Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive

2008, Psychology  -   239 Comments
Ratings: 8.13/10 from 346 users.

Stephen Fry presents this documentary exploring the disease of manic depression; a little understood but potentially devastating condition affecting an estimated two percent of the population.

Stephen embarks on an emotional journey to meet fellow sufferers, and discuss the literal highs and lows of being bi-polar.

Celebrities such as Carrie Fisher and Richard Dreyfuss invite the comedian into their home to relate their stories.

Plus Stephen looks into the lives of ordinary people trying to deal with the illness at work and home, and of course to the people studying manic depression in an effort to better control it. A fascinating, moving and ultimately very entertaining Emmy Award-winning programme.

More great documentaries

239 Comments / User Reviews

  1. people make me laugh when they say oooh im depressed when sh*t aint going their way when really they are just pissed off or fed up, i have a mate who is bi polar and was pretty late on before he was diagnosed and ive seen him at his worse.

  2. Very interesting documentary and comments. I'm struck by the stark disagreement about different approaches to manic depressive disorder, what it should be called, whether it is even necessarily an undesirable condition, or a disorder.

    Lots of good questions with – from where I sit – less than satisfactory answers. But I will take a stab at answering one question. Mia Dominique asks, "Why is it that everyone thinks they're a expert on mental health? Im obviously not talking about the doco above, I'm talking about these comments."

    I think part of the answer may be that people don't necessarily trust other people's accounts of their experiences. Even if we take it as a given that people sometimes behave badly because of the condition, what is to stop an afflicted person from behaving badly and blaming it on the condition even in cases where the condition isn't really the main driver of the behavior?

    Probably some people will get upset that I even ask this question. But I don't see how we can sweep it under the rug. After all, people with mental illnesses, or conditions, or WYWTCT, are still people, subject to variance in human behavior. Surely it would be mistaken to think they never behave badly except as a result of this condition.

    Further complicating the picture, mental health professionals are incentivized to diagnose people with conditions, as doing so acts to justify their profession

  3. I applaud the courage of people who speak about their battle with manic depression. But I speak as one child of three of a mother with severe manic depression and the abysmal lack of support. If I was to write a book about our life with a manic depressive mother you would not believe what happened in our journey to adulthood. It was compounded by the fact that our father had been diagnosed schizophrenic. The combination of both was a real experience. Psychiatrists and social workers had absolutely no idea what we went through. However in adulthood we have never used this as an excuse, we have worked all our lives, own our own homes but have a wealth of experience about manic depression. Let's forget the fancy term the celebrities use, it's a violent, destructive, abusive disease. However it has had an impact because we refuse to take any drugs for stress or depression regardless of the circumstances because of the numerous addictions that led to violence of our mother. We support each other in a stoic and strong manner. Bipolar is a cute term used by some celebrities, it's the new affliction. But live with it, our mother used to take us for a walk that lasted 3 days over the moors. She decorated our living room walls with polythene to keep out damp. Within 6 months the walls were covered in black Mold and condemned by the health department. She was promiscuous and slept with dozens of men. This condition is not a joke and it's not a new trend for celebrities, it's destructive and violent. Our mother died at 63 and for that we are forever grateful because she was no longer in turmoil and we were safe.

  4. I have been suffering with depression for year's now, have been on so so many different type's of medication none of them worked for me only resulted in having nasty side affect's hence making the depression worse more 2 worry about like a dog chasing it's own tail. So I have been managing for age's now dealing with depression in my own way, medication free, just about keeping it at bay. Depression seem's 2 feed on self pity, I alway's think 2 myself "starve it & it will go & hopefully stay away. That worked for me for about 15 month's. now ive been having alot of sleepless night's [insomnia]. I think far 2 much it seem's that depression is trying 2 creep back in2 my life now that I am feeling 2 weak 2 carry on struggling with it. It's a constant battle . Seem's almost alike " the devil" has concocted a potion in capturing the one's that manage 2 escape depression, re - capturing them & controlling them. Reading this back look's lame but once i write down my own dreaded thaught's then & only then i can move on, rather like been there ,got the t - shirt & what comes next, That i cant tell at the moment as ive not yet worked it out . Still wanna fight this battle Were all far far better than feeling this way . Stay strong, keep ur chin's up, [ P.S. wish i could take my own advice ]. :/

    1. I feel for anyone suffering as you....and having to deal with advice from ignorant know it all's that often trivialize a debilitating condition

      I did suffer for many years, and could never identify any psychological issues other than general lack of self esteem due to operating than lower level than others. Psychiatrists have trouble diagnosing a nose bleed, and cannot tell the difference between depression as a response to environment, or trauma and that which is biological and for which no amount talk therapy can help. I went through hell with doctors who know how you feel , more than you do.

      I was getting sever cramps and starting taking "Magnesium chelate"...and within a week 40 years of depression ended, and had never returned, even after experiencing the severe trauma of loosing my best friend to domesticate violence and fighting corrupt police trying to cover up the circumstances.

      While suppliants do very little, as a bit more vitamin d or whatever is going to do anything for serious illness.....magnesium however is a different story as it is needed for thousands of functions including reproducing cells....if magnesium is low, you will have problems. Of course I do not know if this is relevant in your case, but it just illustrates how little is understood, and what they do know and just do not tell you. It sis difficult as you end up having to be your own doctor

      Its worth a try, and make sure it is "Chelated", it is in an amino acid form meaning your body does not have to metabolize it, and passes straight into the blood stream. I had taken others and started relapsing as they were not chelated and that is how I learned my body does not metabolize magnesium properly .

  5. I watched this when it was originally on TV and my husband had been hospitalised after a particularly gruelling manic episode. I kept it on the system so that he could watch it when he came out after 3 months. For the first time he admitted he'd been ill and watched the program. I thought it was brilliant.
    Anyone who thinks living with bipolar disorder, either as a sufferer or as a relative, is an easy ride, a self indulgent trip, or that it can be cured by the ridiculous comments below truly knows nothing about the illness. Some of these so called 'cures' may appear to work, because some sufferers will have only a few episodes in their life with many years in between. A few people only ever have one episode. Others, on the other hand, may be rapid cycling and switch from mood to mood within the same day. True bipolar type 1 is far more than just extreme switches of mood, it involves psychosis, paranoia, mania, delusions and more. My husband is in hospital again as I write, and it took us months to get him there. He refused medication for ages, as one of the sypmptoms is complete lack of insight into his mental state. Currently he believes that he is alright and everyone else is wrong. I'm going to watch the video again, and I recommend any one else who wants to know about bipolar to watch it too.

  6. I haven´t watched the movie yet but am planning to. Think is good that famous people that have influence come out of the closet about their "brain/mental" illness. This helps the million others who don´t dare. I was one of you who thought depression and bipolar and anxiety are not real, but luxury diseases of the modern world until it happened to me out of the blue. Now that I have been to hell and almost killed myself and it took me 2 years to even recover I know these disorders sadly exist. I come from a family where there were 2 suicides in 2 previous generations which happened "out of the blue" and nobody understood until l I became sick, I would have been the 3rd generation to fall pray to this mental killer but I was fortunate enough to live in Europe today where there are doctors and medications to help and have a loving and supporting family. They saved me.

  7. offcourse finches while your at stick some needles in a doll and claim your helping me. Psychiatric Illness is serious stuff take your "magical" cure away from vulnerable people, you snakeoil salesman.

  8. How to stop hypomania and hypersexuality and overspending- stop all caffeine, sugar, and fruit. Try that for four days and you will stable out on medications completely without having to go through med changes or hospitalizations.

    I run an Alternative Mental Health facebook page and tell people how to stabilize without medications and never see a doctor again. I have a post from a mother who went to a holistic doctor i recommended and her daughter is now stable and going to university and she is schizoaffective bipolar. There are 80,000 people, including Margot Kidder, the actress, using orthomolecular medicine to treat bipolar without meds or psychiatrists. I know two doctors that can stabilize people with schizophrenia and bipolar without meds and they can do it over skype without even running any blood tests. It is a problem with digestion, food sensitivities, stimulants make it worse, gluten makes it worse, and a genetic need for a huge amount of nutrients, which require supplements and enzymes.

    1. f*** you you predator for people who are desperate, coming here to prey on people who dont know enough science to know you are spouting bulls*it so you can make money off people with mental health issues

      you are the worst kind of person, a snake oil salesman going after the people who need real help and not bullshit, because someone with sever depression goes off their meds because of your bullshit advice? they could end up dead

      so you disgust me

    2. The snake oil salesmen are the hospitals/corps/pill pushing pharma procs

      Side effects of a food change?

      What about my (para) thyroid on lithium? Or the change in heart electrophysiology ?

      I've been on it for less than a week and I feel my
      Body yelling at me

    3. so its okay to push bulls*it thats proven wrong to people who could die because of it?! f--k that, its disgusting

    4. HI finches! I've been reading things along the same lines as what you're talking about. I'm so sorry people have given you so much grief!! Most people don't understand how powerful food is, and properly used- a very powerful medicine, along with natural substances. Please share with me the doctors you know of that work via Skype. This sounds like an answer to my prayers! Thanks so much for posting!

  9. to me, bi-polarity is just a new labeling for passionate people, they get great highs, of course their downs will go accordingly, labeling them just opens the door to sell them drugs, when you take sugar, or caffeine, it gets you real high, for those passionate people, it s sometimes just too much, and when they get their downs, it s pretty heavy, just by knowing you re such a person makes it easier to cope with, and eat and drink accordingly, those drugs designed to make you dull not only cost money, they also are health hazardous, no one in this documentary talked about the consequences, if it changes you that much, who do you really are then? no, really, it s best to cope with yourself without adding drugs in the mix, I m a passionate man, I thought about suicide before, and the world is a pretty sick place, but, drugs won t make it better, far from it.

  10. This problem is really a spiritual problem. Deep in the soul. When having a mental desease it can be that one part of the soul is lost, but if you go to a good medium, you can get that part again. My relative who has borderline and bipolar, has been in drogs and much problem, but after 45 years with this and medecine for 5-10 years, she´s now her self, more stronger in her self, and never seen her feeling so good, and only after when she did Reiki healing on herself 1-2 times a day. Reiki healing open your chakras and let your energi channels go thrue all chakras. This is the key to feeling better and meditation. But medecine is to make you sick, in the deep in the soul, and you will not be you. Its all about money when its about medecine. So please dont let the doctors make you as a testrabbit. If you dont beileve in this spiritual stuff, beilive science, all is energi! If you will healthy and find more truth about life and feeling happy, You must try to get to this spiritual path. Everything has a meaning. You must just find it, and ready to try things you not heard about, or beileve in. Maybe you will see everything what happend has a meaning when your come further. And you are not sick as many think, you are spiritual gifted. You just must find the way !

    1. you disgust me, someone with severe depression could see this and stupidly go off their meds and kill themselves

      you are the worst kind of person

      reiki is magic, and every peer reviewed blinded study shows it does not work, not in the slightest, but you want people to go to some a--hole saying he can cure thier mental problems?
      thats dangerous

  11. Love this doc, love Stephen Fry and loooove being bipolar "light" - would never press the button. - Which is fortunate since the button doesn't actually exist.

  12. Hello, My name is venkatesh from india..i accidently visited this website during my search for my disorder...
    iam really frustrated in my life and now i came to know this is bipolar disorder...iam a normal person not very one else there to take care about me..iam not in a position to take the treatment from the well known specialists due to my financial crisis...

    can anyone help me to come out of this..?

    1. Have you looked into whether or not any of the specialists in your area will accept payment on a graded scale based on what you can afford? As you probably know, there are also a lot of forums on the net where you can get information and emotional support. One of the better ones, in my experience, is Psychforums dot com. They have a large section on bipolar disorder, which you can find under the 'mood' tab. It should also be possible for one of the admins or members there to assist you in additional resources better than anyone here can.

      edit- Sometimes it really helps just to be able to talk about what's affecting you, and that site is really good for that.

  13. Why is it that everyone thinks they're a expert on mental health?

    Im obviously not talking about the doco above, I'm talking about these comments.

    1. and all the people promoting scams.....isnt it great when scam artists go after vulnerable people? *retches*

  14. I would never press the button, because no matter how dark times may get I truly believe that one can only know what light is when they have stood in the darkness.

  15. I am very disheartened by some of the comments on this thread. I was diagnosed with bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorders when I was 27. The stigma about mental illness infuriates me.I am 33 now and have lived with this! I specifically asked my doctor to not over medicate me. I know there are people that are over medicated and are not true bipolar patients. The doctors are to blame because they are treating specific symptoms. Bipolar patients should be hesitant about taking any stimulants such as anti-depressants. A mood stabilizer should be the 1st option.I have a PhD and have been an executive for 2 different companies. I was a professional french horn player for a symphony.I am a complete perfectionist. My illness almost completely ruined me and I am still trying to recover. People need to educate themselves before making ignorant comments. People without any mental disorder should not make ANY judgments, because they do NOT know how it feels to struggle daily with this! I wish everyday that I did not have this, but these are the cards I was dealt.
    And, to the person that say they lie, steal and cheat, go screw yourself. I do none of those things. Movies and the media have perpetuated the ill stigma.


    1. I agree with you. People don't have any understanding of bipolar and are always saying the worst things to me, even when they're well intended. Shape up, you've got nothing to be depressed about, or you're just making excuses for yourself kind of crap. People are more sympathetic towards alcoholics than they are us.

    2. Or drug addicts....

      If you are blind or deaf, people understand that you have certain needs and limitations. If you are mentally ill, You are weak and a loser, and you are out the door. Or they think you're going to go 'Postal' and fear you.

    3. It may seem odd, but the worst things that have been said to me are by people who think they're more depressed. Not who have more real problems, mind - they're usually very nice because they know what it's like to be in material trouble. But some people who are only depressed and have everything else taken care of don't seem to have as much compassion for people who are both depressed and beset from outside.

    4. It's just one of those things where unless you can truly empathise, you just don't get it.

    5. Completely agree, especially re: the poster who said all bps lie, steal etc.
      "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt."
      I didn't realise there was so much ignorance about this. But then it's not really something I discuss outside of my family.

    6. Hi Candice
      Thank you for sharing. There are a few things you mentioned about yourself that resonated with me. I was wondering if you would be okay with me sending you a private message? Thanks, Laura

    7. Sure.I am just now seeing this! Sorry!

    8. Good post, if someone mocks me I say 'tell me five things u know abojt bipolar'. Invariably they know nothing so I just think whatever you don't have a clue, hence our opinions. Mean nothing

  16. Stephen,

    Thank you for doing this documentary. It helps me tremendously to know what is happening in my life.

    My wife is manic depressive. I'm sure of it. Her father, grandmother, brother, cousin have all have been diagnosed or clearly have symptoms. She was on medication for depression (before manic behavior became clear), but she has been off of them for sometime. She is in denial; partly because of manic cycle she went through; partly because to admit it is overwhelming for her. I've tried to be very, very patient and understanding, but it probably won't be enough to stop her from moving and divorce. She is just leaving a manic phase (1 week mixed ... now apparently depression). I know it is the illness, but she won't admit it. The manic phase was 90% positive, but obviously didn't last forever.

    It has helped to better understand this disease and knowing that I'm not the only one experiencing these problems.

  17. I don't think people should be loading up on tons of pills, however substituting this studied area for complete unsupported BS, like the spiritual nonsense found bellow is beyond idiotic in contrast.

  18. Stephen Fry allowed me to laugh my head off at his expense because I find his quips so amusing. I was expecting this doc to be all doom and gloom but it certainly wasn't.
    My heart bleeds for the people who hate themselves and are dying inside of loneliness. I felt really bad for Mr. Fry
    Two of the moms, dealing with bipolar children, looked absolutely haunted.
    I have an adult bipolar child running loose in the world.
    She self-medicates and creates chaos in the lives of anyone who cares and loves her..
    She would try to kill herself as a child, then turned on me when she was big enough. As an adult, she refuses any help and claims everything is someone else's fault.
    I tried over and over to get help for her in our health care system, even dragged her to the ER; full of her own blood someone else's and a danger to others.
    There are no words to describe what she has put me and my family through.
    I know the above mentioned moms would understand my feelings.
    I would take a bullet for her, but cannot have her in my life.

  19. Lady, your young children are not bipolar because they rage and kick in glass doors. Your child has borderline personality disorder. This has a different treatment than bipolar.

    1. Borderline personality disorder and bipolar symptoms seem to overlap. Are you a therapist, PhD, or psychiatrist? Probably not.

    2. They don't overlap as much as you'd think. There are some key aetiological differences. Fear of abandonment is a huge thing in borderline, and "black and white thinking" about people and the kind of identity instability the borderline criteria talk about aren't really characteristic of bipolar disorder. You can be manic or depressed and still have a stable sense of identity, or understand that being angry at a person doesn't negate everything good about them.

    3. BPD CANNOT be diagnosed before age 18... People with BPD have a shattered sense of self that they are trying to fit back together...people with Bipolar can also have BPD but Bipolar is is a rollercoster of emotions with behaviors that occur...

  20. The pharmacy oh wow. The pic on here is me from 2 years ago May 2011. At the time I was taking 4-6 mg of benzodiazepines for anxiety. I had dealt with anxiety and depression since the age of 10. I self medicated with food, alcohol, and other substances. What kicked my a** and brought me to submission with this world was- Xanax and Klonopin. Celexa was before the "Roxycodone Gold Rush" in Florida.

    My daughter is unable to verbally communicate but she understands language and the world around her. The obvious traits of my mania are hyper verbosity and the obsessive nature I have regarding studying and research. I channeled all of the mania towards something outside of myself for 25 years. In 2007 everything changed- I had my 3rd child and got the baby blues. Badly enough to start drinking regularly again after 8 years of drinking perhaps once every 6 months. From teetotaler to reborn "wine lover" the beverage of Dionysus and Jesus. It is glorified to drink wine- women who are unhappy are encouraged to drink it. If we won't take your blue pill mommies will buy the bottles of pretty wine and with no shame place them in our carts next to the organic cheese crackers for the kiddies.
    Back to my daughter- she was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 but many of her behaviours are manic and do not correlate with autism. She seeks constant sensory input yet drowns it out completely in the same day.

    My point is multi layered however did no else go " da fuq" when they joked about the amount of meds a 16 year old takes. He is on legal drugs- needing uppers and downers to function.

    1. << not sure which pic is up. If I am in teal holding a teal martini that was the height of my anxiety. I over ate drank too much smoked too much talked too much. If I am in a red swimsuit walking with a board in hand and my daughter in the other that was in June. I moved near the ocean in 2012. The constant whoosh of the waves and tides soothed my jagged nerves. I revelled in physical activity and feeling healthier and looking better at 34 than I did at 29.

      Meds help my daughter but she is on 3 meds. 3- not 9. Ambien is needed because the teen in the documentary is on 2 ADHD stimulant meds. He is tweaking his gourd off until he takes Klonopin and Ambien.

      Just medicate everything! Big Pharmacy. Mind Control. Trust me this is real and not in your head. The world is harsh but there is beauty. She is my salvation and redemption. Muse, naiad, friend, daughter. It took her light to pull me out of my darkness. Blessed be.

      Damn Dave Mathews!

      That song needs to get the funk outta my head. Ants marching. Indeed.

    2. you suffer from depression since ten but bred three kids who have to suffer your illness and your drinking. meh you selfish woman

    3. Judgemental much.? let me guess never had a mental. Illness jjst wanted to view a documentary and then think u are an expert! Further educate your mind on self medication etc

    4. you guessed wrong.Whose judging now?

    5. That is a disgusting thing to say, even mentally ill people have the right to a family. Your children or whoever shares your life have to be subjected to your thoughtless, pointless nastiness. Who is the selfish one??!!

    6. I am in my fifties and if I knew back in my twenties what I now know I would have never even gotten married let alone have children. Legal drugs are still drugs, bad drugs, drugs no child let alone human should take because of their effects on ones body.

  21. What he fails to show is the torment the bi-polar patients give out to the people around them. They are manipulative, lie, steal, abuse verbally and sometimes phisically. Ever talked to a kid that has a parent with this disorder? Do it, you will be shocked. What I find disturbing is that they can do what they want and everything is covered up with the disease. Weird world.

    1. Yes they are mentally ill! Can't help it.

    2. You are overgeneralizing. Not all bipolar people lie, steal, abuse and are manipulative. No, bipolar patients can't always do what they want. This whole post was ignorant. Educate yourself on something before you make hasty generalizations.
      Candice ...PhD

    3. There are varying degrees of the disorder. The reason people feel ashamed and feel stigmatized and degraded and refuse treatment is because of uneducated rude people like you. They are sick. Even in people who are getting treatment feel that hate and mistrust and refuse to be honest with their doctors and families. My mother has a mental disorder and I am bipolar, I'm pretty sure I'm qualified to tell you that my mother is fiercely protective loving and supportive. She is also the vice president of a bank and has 2 masters degrees. What are you doing with your "healthy" mind?

    4. That's just complete, unfounded rubbish! You have no idea...

  22. Hello out there

    I would like to know if there are people out there that suffers from any of these symptoms as i would like to know if you would like to get in touch with me please as i to suffer with mental health ,and would so like to speak to you as its hard enough speaking to any one about this in the out side world

    I have lost so many friends through this as all they say is ((( here we go again)) and the min i hear this i would rather walk away instead of saying something i regret,and it would be so nice to speak to someone with the similar problems that i face as we would be on the same wave length

    so please don't read this and ignore as you must know whats it like not have people out there that don't understand you just like me and you and would so like to be chatting or sitting talking to someone knowing that they wont say here we go again and walk away or go out of your life because you are so boring and don't chat etc etc

    so please get in touch and by my email and then maybe if you feel comfortable wee could chat by Skype as it would be so easier as we are chatting and not emailing

    Thank you for taking time to read this letter from me

    God bless you

    1. Hi there!
      My suggestion to you is that you go online and find a support group or chat room for people suffering with bipolar disease.
      I wish you all the best!

  23. Hi jt6572

    I am on few drugs
    From neil

  24. I'm bipolar but one thing I find concerning is the prevalence of people taking so many drugs. Maybe it's because I'm a mild case, but I am very wary of how many different chemicals I put into myself.
    I'm on a few, but really wish there was just the one I could take.
    Does anyone have this?

    1. i'm just asking out of curiosity but have you ever investigate 'alternative' remedies or complementary therapy or energy work?

    2. i did for an anxiety disorder and really perservered with the audio method but have found meds far more effective.
      i am interested in CBT though and have it 'in mind'! :)

    3. the problem is "alternative" remedies are almost all entirely either disproved or unsupported by any evidence, and some of the more popular ones are literally impossible to work via the mechanism they propose

      homeopathy thinks the more you dilute an active ingredient the more powerful it gets, diluting substances to the point where the chances of having a single molecule of the ingredient is close to zero

      rieki thinks theres magical energy in you that cant be shown to exist, and they cant show they manipulate it either, and every test done shows its exactly as effective as a placebo treatment (fake treatment that is meant to make you think something happened when it didnt)

      and the various herbal remedies can have effects but have high rates of contamination's and drug interactions, not to mention that many of the plants they prescribe dont actually have an effect on the disorder its prescribed for, alot of them can actually be pretty dangerous

    4. Stopping your medication will be like walking up a mountain without food and water, you'll be fine for a little while, thinking you can scale the mountain, no sweat. Then when the hunger and thirst returns, your knees will fail and you'll roll right back to Base camp 1.
      Anyone who are trying to conince you of better alternatives to Western medicine, is either a charlatan not having your best interest at heart but what's in your wallet, or it will be someone who has been fooled by aforementioned charlatan, and believes they are genuinely helping you. Either way, you'll tumble down the mountain if you take their word. ALL illness, including mental illness MUST have a physical manifestation. So something that affects that physical manifestation in your brain, is clearly the best option.
      Though, I'm sure coupling the medication with therapy probably helps with the recovery, I wouldn't trade out one over the other.

    5. yeh, im pretty happy with how things have improved by being on meds actually. fortunately i am not on many, im just concerned for people who are on so many. thanks for the reply. :)

    6. One's actions change the brain and vice versa. CBT can have physical neural effects, and probably changes some things that can't be helped yet with medication.

    7. I have been on 7 different meds for bipolar and its not really fair to say you must be on meds. I am massively sensitive to all medications. The all make me nauseous and zombified. I am recovering after a major depressive episode with therapy and it is working just fine. The problem is doctors make much more money when they drug you up. Not only are they not effective for me but, the side effects are troubling and I have voiced my concerns and they keep giving me more drugs. Do what works for you as a patient. That is important, more so than making other people happy because you are medicated and "cured".

    8. Yep. I recently changed my med (for some reason I tend to always think there is something better out there?) and it had the exact opposite effect it was supposed to.
      Often a med prescribed can exacerbate the very symptoms you are taking it for! This is a very scary thing!
      Thankfully, I recognised what was happening and am now very happy...on the meds I was on in the first place!
      Crazy...oh that's right... That's why I'm here!

    9. I'm better without the meds.
      Adding chemicals is not very healthy. You may improve if you are taking a calming med. The brain won't heal if it's flipping out. But time and peace and quiet will heal. Exercise, healthy food and nature really help, too.
      Have a good life.

  25. Stephen Fry is a global treasure.

  26. I'm quite sure there are parts of this film
    that will find some resonance with a lot of us because, even though we may not
    all be bi-polar, most of us have had moments of pretty deep darkness..
    Hopefully, the film will help a lot of people to empathise and, perhaps, view
    mental illness, differently.

    Knowing that someone like Stephen Fry has had to
    deal with problems similar to theirs will also help a lot of people cope.

  27. I can relate to a lot of the comments. What took me out of my pain is to play a game it the dream game.When I felt pain or conflict, I was taught to tell myself that i am in a dream(remember it is just a game).The first step is to identify the figures in the dream as "keith,my name and everything else that seems to stand between myself and perfect peace in that situation" (pause for thought..that includes "time" too as a figure. Then Imagine 2 boxes in your mind one of which you put a checkmark on. The first box is next to the question "do i want the dream one box is yes the other is no. Check the no box . The dream is then changed from a depressing dream to a happy dream.

    Conflict in your life indicates that you have chosen a dream of conflict.

    Spend 10 minutes or so playing the dream game i don t say wheter it is true or not ..just check it out .

    There is a more advanced version which you can check out . I would be more than happy to share if you want me too.

    1. thanks this is life saving share more

    2. Please do!

  28. Our mental illnesses all arise from the inability of our perfectly formed minds to deal with the Matrix. Every psychosis on this planet is the adjustment mechanism that our brain must use to deal with the cognitive dissonance. Anyone who is perfectly adjusted to this crumbling civilization is truly psychotic.

    1. And there in your words lay the solace of my reality. Couldn't have said it any better, surely worse!

  29. I am full blown bi-polar and the documentary touched my heart. Every time I go without meds, I have a high that's higher then heaven and lows lower than hell. It took me years to get over the fact that I have to pop pills to be sane. I miss my highs though. I do not approve of the 'being sectioned' theory in the UK. It's discriminating. It was hard to get my prescription in the UK (although it was prescribed in other countries with great success). The only health care I received in the UK IN a low low time was a 25 minute interview with an apprentice doctor who gave me a health line number. The GP in the UK was well informed about my condition. I find that in the UK there is still a general BEDLAM attitude towards mental illness and not only from the medical institutions but from the general public as ell. I am now so outspoken and sometimes just say that I am legally crazy and that's the end of. Thank you Mr Fry for this documentary, however I do believe making the United Kingdom understand and except mental illness is still centuries away.

  30. A lot of depression is caused by not being connected to mother earth. Your pineal gland is longing for you to connect with gaia. It is crying out an s.o.s message. When you take anti-depressants they shut down the pineal to a degree. You will find that some anti depressants are fluoride based compounds and fluoride calcifies the pineal gland, further cutting you off from gaia and silencing the crys for help. My advice to anyone who is depressed go and reconnect with mother earth she needs you as much as you need her. People are depressed because they are not living in equilibrium with nature and with each other. They need love not anti depressants.

    1. I do know about the pineal gland and universal vibrations etc. I do not however believe that depression is caused by not being connected to mother earth. That sounds like some hippy bulls*it. Depression is a illness just like cancer is an illness. it just can not be seen by the average eye(unless you run an mri). I am someone with depression and if it were that simple I would raise my vibrational energy. Depression is caused by a number of things. That is why we have government assistance for people with this illness. Antidepressants can help or hurt you depends on the person. Most likely depression is due to environmental or social or economical problems in many people and how they react to these problems. Anyone without depression can blame it on damn near anything. It is not a weakness nor a simple solution. It takes time and for people that have the worst depression, medicine if necessary and counceling.

    2. The only kind of TRUE help I can offer you and others is this:

      Spiritual Enlightenment is the solution to ALL of our problems. Period. End of story. It HAS to be because there is nothing beyond "spiritual enlightenment" ... it is the "Kingdom of Heaven" WITHIN us. It is NOT a "religious" thing, it is a spiritual thing. Once we TRULY realize and understand that we are eternal energy, temporaily housed in physical form, then the problems of the lower physical realm begin to melt away. We then see the grand picture of our universal existence, and therefore the problems we once had now seem so ridiculously meaningless.

      Most people are still unaware that each one of us has a lower self (Ego) AS WELL AS a Higher Self. This "Higher Self" is dormant in most of us, still awaiting activation. When one begins to expand his awareness by going INWARD, then the magic begins ... and his consciousness will shift altogether into HIGHER AWARENESS.

      PLEASE listen to Eckhart Tolle ... especially his classic "The Power of Now". It has TRULY transformed many lives. As he states, "it is a re-statement for our time of the CORE teachings of all religions". ..... Peace, Dean

    3. did you ever struggle with drugs?

    4. I not manic but i do keep getting depressed, i have read that exact book, i think its right it makes sence you only ever in the present, its the present that matters, you only ever in the present, yet its easier said then done. I can understand it yet to stop my mind automatic workings or should i say habit is hard. To learn to see things un bias and true form. I agree with the book in that that is the way forward for humanity into more awakened and more intelligent beings.

    5. You spiritual nuts, stop preying on people in vulnarable mental positions! People have come here to learn to cope and deal with a serious mental issue, not trade it in for another one!

    6. As a healer, and a counsellor, I agree with some of your statement. BUT, not everyone's brains are wired that way! The Higher self might be completely aware of the brain issues that someone is coping with and that might be their path of development. We are not all on an obvious spiritual path. But we are all developing, we are all learning. Telling someone who is drepressed, bi-polar etc that they just need God, the Higher self, etc, is pointless. They are struggling just to cope with it. It takes every ounce of thier energy. Yes, spiritual practices, meditation,etc help but it takes years of healing to sort through this stuff. I have abuse issues, which I have been dealing with since I was a child, and which created depression and addiction/codependency for years. I have been an abuse counsellor for over 20 years, and a healer, Reiki teacher/planetary healer for even longer, and I still have to deal with the fallout from early abuse. Spirituality is a long, lifetime after lifetime, journey. Reading a book, and connecting to the earth, certainly helps, but they don't magically take away the pain instantly. That takes years of healing and struggle and bloody hard work.
      I have immense respect for those people who struggle with mental illness. Their lives are so hard but they struggle through, looking for solutions and support. A difficult, difficult path. They are in their pain, not escaping it, as many do, by finding God. That too can be an ascape from painful feelings. But, done in the right way, it can be very healing. But its not everybody's path.

    7. Precisely. So refreshing to stumble upon your comment. Much love.

    8. How closed minded are you with this comment. I think you should watch a few more doc's on mental illness.

    9. i do agree with you but some people do need a dose of something to balance out. and sometimes people are not ready to face what might be underneath the bi polar or depression and anxiety

  31. respect to you mickey jones.

  32. Great documentary. Typical crappy opinions below.

  33. Such a phenomenal documentary! I've not been "properly" diagnosed but after watching this gem, it's like I'm able to have that "AHA" moment and my entire life's jigsaw puzzle pieces that were scattered about - all came together to see the "complete picture/film" of my life up to this moment in time. Stephen Fry is brilliant and I'm forever grateful for his courage and strength, time & money to produce this gem. Thank you also to Daniel Brown on your comment you posted a month ago, so very well stated!

  34. This is my life :/

  35. I have been through my own troubles in life like most of us have or are yet to. Some of us find and experiment with our own superficial coping mechanisms/escapes, sometimes among entire sub-cultures that follow like-minded feelings and ideals. I believe the more sustainable option for fulfillment and happiness, isn't in hiding, being afraid or being diagnosed and removed from your own personal sense of empowerment and control, but rather, in being attentive to your thoughts and honest with yourself and what it is that you want which is in your best long term interests and be PROUD of your choices long as its not a kiddy porn dungeon or something horrible obviously. Remember that who you where as a baby was a blank canvas, innocent and pure, it is through the course of your life that you've allowed society and its expectations to pull and stretch you against your natural will. Those who have experienced hardship or are diagnosed with mental illness are generally more in-tune people, however, occasionally mismanaged, but certainly not lost ..they are more likely to be free thinking revolutionists who can potentially do a great deal of good for the unity of humanity rather than dosing up on what the 'all knowing' doctor gives them and allowing this chain of nonacceptance and various oppressiveness to perpetuate itself. "Diversity and balance is key, rigidity causes fractures"

    1. Daniel; great post. well thought out.

    2. Well said, Daniel :)

    3. As a baby I didn't allow the abuse dished out to me and I didn't know how to stop society from pulling me apart. My doctors say that I have had this bi polar since childhood. I have worked very hard and daily over the past 20 years to understand what was happening to me, why it was happening and how to get control of it. At 51 I have done so and am able to look after myself better. Been there and done that. You need to understand that balance is an achievement most sort after, diversity is hard to accept but welcome. Processing my day is a hard task and takes hours to come down enough to sleep, relax and enjoy what I have. Medications have helped me a great deal and now I am down to just one antidepressant and can deal with my time as long as I am not listening to my head telling to run or to fight like a demon over very little things or do things that are very wrong. My doctors are not all knowing and they are eager to keep me from returning to the zombieland I was in. These reactions we have come 1st into our heads and with coping strategies that we learn from our doctors we pull through. Walk in the shoes of others and try to understand how they got to where they are. Not all doctors want to dope you up and keep you in line. Some doctors really work with you and listen to you to get you on your way. Your words are well said but it is very hard for a bi polar person to achieve.

    4. Well said Marcy, Danial oversimplifies because he doesn't understand.

    5. Best comment by far!

  36. That 16 year old's medicine and what it would get him on the black market in northeastern cities in the USA:

    Ambien: 10 bucks a pill/ more if the buyer is coming down off of coke
    Adderall: depending on the dosage. 5- 12$ a pill. During Finals or Midterms: Possibly up to 20
    Kolonopin: About 5$ a pill

    Overdiagnosing is a HUGE HUGE problem in the USA.

    1. People dont need pharmaceutical meds , you can fix alot of imbalances with what food and drinks you put in your body

    2. I mostly agree. We've been conditioned in the western world to believe that taking pills is the answer to anything that might ail us. On top of this, we've got pharmaceutical corporations teaming with doctors that for the most part seem like they want to keep it that way. Having been diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety disorder, and ADD myself, I'm living proof that our bodies CAN function much better with the correct accompanying diet (Of course, I believe this applies to most cases, not all)

    3. Not everyone is the same, though. Everyone's brain chemistry is different.

    4. obviously you know nothing about bipolar disorder. people who are diabetic need insulin. people who are bipolar need meds. their bodies are not regulating themselves correctly and NOT taking medication can make the disorder progressively worse. there is not a simple eat well, exercise, and think happy thoughts kind of solution to this disease.

  37. What nonsense, I haven't done anything to bully you, only ask you for evidence and ask what is wrong with helping people, to help themselves? You, on the other hand, have constantly used agressive, abusive language, and directly used your posts in ways you (bafflingly) accuse me of doing, indirectly.

    I didn't not say "only scientologists do that" so you've actually started with an attack and a misquotation, aswell as dodging very simple questions.
    I asked if you might be one, then apologised for the inference. The reason I brought it up was because your continuously evasive, offensive, insulting posts mimic pretty closesly how scientologists behave in discussions on mental health. You go on to prove my point, not only by misquoting me, but by trying to call peole against me, in other words, bullying. Another scientology tactic, not to mention intellectual dishonesty. You then try to frighten me into silence by bringing mods into it.
    Sorry, but your scare tactics won't work on me. I spend my days fighting to help people, helping them to enforce their rights and get fair treatment. I've stood up to abusers and helped people take back their lives. Some bad attitude mouthpiece on an internet forum, does not even begin to register as intimidation.

    Sorry, chum.

    So i'll ignore your further actual bullying and additional insults, and ask yet again, what is damaging to individuals about this program and the practice of helping people to help themselves into better situations and better intergration into everyday life? How can people over coming their problems and living every-day lives, possibly be bad?

    Oh and your link is giving me a region block. Can anyone relink or describe it please?

  38. So much venom in your words, except it doesn't actually mean anything. So far you've only insulted people. You haven't actually explained how we/they are doing harm by helping people to help themselves.

    Your posts are attack, followed by rhetoric, followed by insult. Nothing more.

    Are you a scientologist by any chance? I hate to ask but they're the only other people I've met who anger and attack so freely without making any kind of sense. I haven't seen one post from you that wasn't attacking someone, and wasn't worded agressivly.

    So how about it? Stop insulting people for 5 minutes and explain your position. Explain how helping people to help themselves in finding a way to improve their lives, is bad for society.

  39. Oh, and I just remembered. For anyone who wants to see how much insight/intelligence Stephen Fry has, it's worth checking out his interview with Pamela Connelly.

    Not because I bear any ill-will to toward the man, I enjoy his early work especially and his portrayal of Oscar Wilde was just phenomenal in my opinion.

    But self-delusion is what it is. Pathologising is what it is, and a lack of insight is just that. It's not unique to Stephen, other 'public intellectuals' like Dawkins, Morris, Attenborough have all professed exactly the same lack of insight quite proudly. If you want to take seriously his 'second-hand' opinion and those of other celebrities on the basis of their perceived authority, that's up to you. I prefer a sceptical approach to all received and socialised wisdom.

    I like to ask "Cui bono?" It saves a lot of time when you are deciding who and to what extent to trust. If Stephen is deluding himself, how would he benefit? If the truth were incredibly painful and required great sacrifice, would he be willing to face it? Only he can answer. But we can all answer for ourselves. In the inestimable delusions of countless millions this question is answered pitifully and plaintively again and again.

  40. Why does he spend so much time investigating the meds & psychotherapy people take instead of trying out the diet that has kept that woman Liz Miller episode free for 15 years! The cheese she's eating looks delicious for example :)

    1. Because you're misrepresenting the information. She believes the diet among other things may have helped her to get by. It's not the diet that's preventing "episodes". It's Liz Miller, knowing her own triggers and alleviating them. The diet being one of Liz's methods for dealing with her own problems.

      Liz's diet is not a cure and won't work for everyone. It is not the 'be all and end all'. Besides, the documentary isn't about one persons ways to improve their own mental health, it's about what people are already going through, their past experiences and breaking the unspoken taboo that is having mental health problems in society.

  41. I find it amazing that intelligent people who would never in a million years deny the fact that a person's lungs, eyes, bones, kidneys, liver, bones, or skin can be diseased (causing impairment to their functions), will stridently deny that a person's brain can suffer disease and that the mind can be affected as a result.

    1. Hi AnalogousGumdropDecoder

      I love your handle. I also agree with everything you said except for the "amazing" part. I have BPD. I have been in my share of psych units and 2 psych hospitals. I found out I had BPD in 1987 when I was 29 y.o. I am not amazed that people don't think of a brain disease in the same way as any other organ system that becomes diseased. It is fear-based. Mental illness is still a fairly large unknown quantity to Mr. & Ms. American. We fear the unknown. Death is the biggy. What somebody with a brain disease might do next is another. I'm not defending it. Education is the cure for the ignorance out there. IMO, Stephen Fry has done a great service for all of us who are suffering from whatever brain disease we might have. Bravo Stephen Fry!

  42. I know the risks of my condition so I work hard to avoid falling into destructive behavior

  43. I feel the point of this documentary is simply to bring to light that many people are bipolar and surprisingly those suffering from it come from all walks of life. As a functioning bipolar, diagnosed at the age of 53, many incidents during my past sort of, became explainable. The crazy stuff, the dark deep stuff and troubles they caused not only to me but those around me..
    When living such an unpredicatble life, a documentary like this is reassuring, knowing there are others like me out there.

  44. Sadly lacking in insight. The only positive thing to come out of pathologising emotional problems is that people can be written off as bad debts, put on a pension and left alone. This has been my experience. One still gets some degree of prejudice, but in this relative position of strength, outside the system and it's demands, one can leverage that bigotry to their own advantage.

    I always say the same thing, but anyone interested in getting outside the middle-class box would do well to read Solaris (Lem), Alice Miller and other high-end thinkers, people who see the whole picture and write for the best and brightest, not the lowest common denominator.

    It grieves me that someone half intelligent like Fry would be so easily coddled by comforting diagnoses such as these, it's as much proof of Alice Miller's central hypotheses as I have ever seen.

    1. Except that Alice Miller's work derives entirely from childhood traumas. Which, doesn't really cover people who've had perefctly happy lives despite such as Manic Depression.

      To call stephen fry "half-intelligent" is a bizarre slight on a good man. You don't get to become a cambridge lecturer and renowned debater by being "half-intelligent".

      The film is great. No, it isn't a deep thesis on psychological health but nor is it meant to be. Your comment misses the point entirely and you totally overlook the bigger picture, which is impressive from some who's obviously half-intelligent. This documentary was supposed to shed some light on an often terrible condition which is heavily stigmatised. It's supposed to bring mental health problems into the foreground and make people question their prejudice. In that, the film is very successful. It is accessible, frank, honest and shows that anyone from any walk of life can suffer mental health problems. De-stigmatising these conditions.

      Watch it again, this time with a view to see it how most people, who have little experience in this field, may see it.

      I'm also concerned about your first paragraph, which I hope was a mistake. It can hardly be said that segragating people with mental health issues is a "positive thing".

    2. "Except that Alice Miller's work derives entirely from childhood traumas. Which, doesn't really cover people who've had perefctly happy lives despite such as Manic Depression"

      In the first chapter of her first book Alice addresses the point of people having perfectly happy lives only to crash when the basis of this perfect happiness eventually crumble... Are you sure you read Miller?

    3. Not quite the same thing though is it? Crashing as a result of destruction of happy life is completely different to crashing, despite having what should be a happy life. Manic depression isn't the result of life-events. Are you sure you read my post?

      Miller, however noteable and impressive, like anyone in the field, is debatable. Unfortunately, psychology is not an exact science. What they are not, is really relevant to the point of the film.The point I was making was that this program wasn't designed to be a thesis on manic depression, only a means to bring mental health into debate and try to remove some of the stigma.

    4. Do you have direct experience of the welfare system?

      You seem to have a very hazy comprehension of Alice Miller whose message was that we be free of illusions through facing the very roots of them, it's not a new or radical concept.

      I fear that it seems like you believe that a shared delusion is happiness. It reminds me a lot of Adam Curtis' doco on the Neo-Conservatives.

      This film is propaganda for people intent on remaining imprisoned within the ruins of their past, and they will fight against empathy with all their might, just to stay in that prison. Whereas I've been looking for it all my life and I can tell you it's hard, it's very hard to find. I've finally found it this week, but it's taken more than 30 years.

      Half-intelligent was a bit strong, maybe a quarter. Anyone who can successfully delude themselves like this isn't all that bright, and you get to be a Cambridge Professor in a similar way you get to be many things, shall we debate the relative genius of Rupert Murdoch for instance? Absurd.

      You do realise success is socially determined? Always has been. There's ample research now to support this assertion. To believe success has anything to do with intelligence, well some people might consider that rather naive. I don't like to use the word, but suffice to say, it's not a very developed worldview.

      But it is important to dismiss Alice Miller, vital in fact. If that stuff were to be taken seriously there'd be revolution.

    5. And you sir, are a naive conspiracy theorist who for some reason has decided that one persons view (miller) is entirely correct and every other view is horrible and bad. In other words you're worse than the people you so clearly (bafflingly) show contempt for. You're not interested in truth or solving problems, you're only interested in attacking people who don't agree with your second-hand, borrowed ideas. You seem to think that people will magically get better if they accept the words of one person out of thousands. Pretty bizarre.

      Experience of the welfare system? As a matter of fact I have. I am a Disability Advice Worker. I spend my time helping people to find ways to enjoy a fuller, better life and not to let their mental and/or physical conditions impede their progress. To find means and solutions to work around the problems they have and to achieve goals, such as self-support, employment, better interraction with the world outside their doors. Exploring the world.

      I don't find it all necesary to dismiss Miller, despite your frothing, rabid assertions. Frankly I could't give two shakes. If it isn't helping people, it isn't relevant to me. If it's harming people, I'll help to shut it down. If Millers works are shown to be correct and more valid, then I'll happily change my opinion. Untill then I'll keep actually helping people as opposed to just talking about it. And this video does help people, in my experience, wheras you've yet to demonstrate how it actually does any kind of harm, outside of nonsense rhetoric.

    6. "Experience of the welfare system? As a matter of fact I have. I am a Disability Advice Worker. I spend my time helping people to find ways to enjoy a fuller, better life and not to let their mental and/or physical conditions impede their progress."

      As I suspected.

      The opposite of good is good intentions. How can you see this when you are part of the system. When you have such a vested interest in this sort of political expediency. She wrote a book for people like you. Not for me. It should get to you, it's all about you. Page after page talks about Care professionals, over and over again. The only way to fight it without looking silly is to dismiss it and defer to authority.

      I know this because I've met a truckload of 'care' professionals and I have finally found the way, to stop letting their ilk ruin my life with their good intentions. But we all know the people they 'help' aren't supposed to talk back, we all know that. And I like her because she wrote about that too.

      The fangs come out the moment they are challenged. How sad and insecure they must feel. I wish I could help them. But it's frightening, the rage of the good little boys and girls in the care professions who want to make everyone else good by silencing their pain and their horrifying fears.

      Alex Howard also wrote a cogent book about the 'Care' professions and the selling of 'Care'. And there are probably others too. Feel free to label them all Conspiracy Theorists if it makes you feel better. That they are well above us both prestige and intellect shouldn't be much of a barrier, they are the enemy, they make you feel things, bad things

      'Helpers' have been administering lobotomies, ECT, drugs and all manner of charlatanism for ages. And yes, I have personal experience of people who have been 'helped'. So I'm not shocked, so to speak, at all by your true colours. Saddened, but not shocked. If you think pathologising itself isn't dangerous then there's no point trying to reason with you, I can see it's futile. Your vested interest in what you do is too great to allow any objectivity. But at least you'll always have company.

    7. Your insignts do not equal those of Mr.Magoo.

  45. i can tell u why u want to die ... it's due to the facted u have nothing to do lol you might know every thing but ur sat there in a world of ebay :P not only that u live in the uk and the guv will remove your impetus ... ur not allowed to be a dissenting adult... u will be told what you can and can not do :) i thought the like like of you would read the books on how to castrate the general voting pop ^.^

  46. My mother was bipolar, so am I and so are my two daughters. I've struggled with this all my life without understanding what it was or being diagnosed. I was 57 when properly diagnosed and began a series of medications which had to be adjusted from my prompting. I felt too sedated and numb at first. (didnt take lithium) but kept telling the doctor to adjust things and I think now I'm as manic as I dare to be without embarrassing myself too much....and though I think of death daily at least I'm not reaching for the ultimate solution. I have lost my entire artistic ability and desire, but I had become a successful artist before taking the meds. It's a trade off for sanity, so my doctor said. I'm very sad about that as I was a very creative person. I don't reach out for people. I refrain from making friends. My jack russell is my best friend. I kept getting fired from the most menial jobs just before I took meds. But they are keeping me alive. I take deep pleasure and spiritual joy in nature still, and for that I'm grateful. I have a fish tank and love my fish, and grow large plants indoors as all I have is a fire escape for a garden. I used to own 42 acres with a private river but lost it all due to being bipolar. I get my strength from the little things in life, and the fact that I had a wretched childhood which made me hang in there throughout the worst life could dish out. My love goes out to every single person who struggles with this. Find others like you. IT HELPS.

  47. this is a very well done documentary, i have always admired stephen fry, i just had my birthday so i made another year without walking into the lake like virginia woolfe did, he is one year older than i, i only have the depression of the deep dark abyss then back to somewhat "normal" functioning, still trying to figure it out, on medication, praying for peace. never give up stephen or anyone else, we are human and deserve to live, we are creative, then must withdraw from the world of chaotic noise, not read the news, or watch it on
    telly just keep writing is what i do.luckily ihave a great team of doctors as i have MS and have various physical challanges went through a an awful time of it but someplace inside myself i know things can get better, they understand that it complicates life and makes it all worse but they do not put me down, stay away from negative people, get a animal compaion becasue they love without judgement, people dont.
    thank you for letting me speak softly about such a harsh destroyer of lives, and thank you to stephen fry for being courageous enough to share this intimate part of his life, it is the stigma i cant deal with so i have been quiet, i think i got my courage to say it from watching the docuentary. Thank you stephen fry and Carrie fischer, and all of us who are affected by any for of the terrible disease of depression, panic attacks, and the physical manefestations it also causes
    Much love, and Heartfelt sending of warmth and sunshine into everyones life,

  48. Mike, when I was a teenager I smoked a lot of pot, and developed a notion/insight that I and others around me were robots, programmed to believe themselves free. This perception was bad for my social life; I stopped smoking pot, and eventually became a neuroscientist specializing in brain chemistry. It's quite interesting, better than working for a living, and definitely better than not being at all. Hmmm, as a neurochemist, I think you might be one of the people who feel better with antidepressants. I mean, you smoke pot all the time, so you can't be against the whole idea of taking drugs or medications, right?

    1. Okay...wait a second. If you were really a neuroscientist, you would know that your insight, that we are all robots programmed to think we're free, was spot on. We think we fall in love, but actually we are just following strict orders programmed into our minds after millions of years of evolution, to find a mate that produces good stock. We are just as susceptible to someone's scent, as we are the "wonderfulness" we have found in them. Lol. I love it when people say "life is a computer program, and we are computers", etc, etc... yeah, but it's the other way around. We emulated our situation and a computer is just a poor reproduction of ourselves. If I were you, I would check out that pot again.

      And anyone with any kind of Hippocratic or common sense, would never recommend SSRI's to anyone. Those drugs are off label, and you never know what your going to get. I would know, I lost my mind for a year after taking the "safest" one, and lost my sister to suicide after losing her medication (the same one). Telling someone they seem like a good fit for an SSRI, after reading a few paragraphs they wrote about a movie; shows just how starved for attention, self-absorbed, and completely incompetent you are. I bet you made yourself feel like a big man, dishing out that advice

      The ignorance and pomp on this forum has gotten out of control. All of you biding to be the brightest star, while talking strait from your arses.

    2. I really am a neuroscientist; I am situated in the outer rim of the inner circle. Yes, we probably are neurochemical robots, programmed to think ourselves free (maybe with some uncertainty due to quantum effects, as suggsted by John Eccles circa 1960). We are also a fancy variety of a hagfish; food in one end, shit out the other end. My only point is, why dwell on these (accurate) perspectives, if it makes you so unhappy? SSRIs and other antidepressants are way over-rated, but they help some people, and sometimes (in my personal experience) it is a matter of timing. Truly sorry about your sister.

  49. see above

  50. My name is Mike. I was raised by a Christian couple with the utmost care and have supported me all throughout my 28years of life. I have been provided with education, morals and values that I was suppose to use for my future life. Let’s just say I have nothing to rebel against. But growing up around good people and a simple sustained life didn’t do it for me. I kept questioning everything around; I was the odd man in every equation. I didn’t like big crowds since for me it was just gathering of people who like to compete and display ego, or in some cases, find some other people they can use for their benefit. I’d rather be around a small group of friends while smoking cigarettes and weed and have simple conversations about life and what really there is. The purpose of this is to open up to whoever is going to have access to this, and for what purpose? To transfer what I’ve come to figure out on my own. The knowledge that I never wanted to have which in the end destroyed me slowly. I am currently suffering under severe depression, the diagnosis was not done professionally but I believe it has come to that. It all started when I saw the other side of the world. A place where everyone was supposed to be free. There’s no such thing as freedom. Freedom is a cover up to make us believe that we’re all free to live and do whatever we please. We are all slaves of something and sad to say there is nothing that can save us. We are categorized and expected to live base on the concept of right and wrong or normal or not normal. Whoever has most control over everything around us, is forcingly providing the world with formulas to life to give optimal results when in reality, we’re all just live stock and our only purpose is to die after being used up to keep the system running. Such a sad reality that too many people have failed to see. What is truth? We have a million ways to define the meaning of truth which can either be defined in so many different perspectives depending on how human you can be and which dominant aspect of yourself drives you into defining this word. I’d define it as “whatever the case really is”. I’ve figured out a way to determine a lie by asking a subject a single question and have it consistently satisfy “why”. This will lead to either a lie or he really couldn’t provide anymore answers. We all live in a world of lies and I have proven that to myself. What we know isn’t really truth. It was kept hidden to us to keep order, to gain power and control over all resources of the world. Whoever’s reading this I hate to be the one to break it down to you but, you’re just a replacement of the last person who did the same exact thing you’ve been doing till this point. You’re a piece of hardware that keeps the system running and you will breed and teach yours the same thing and the cycle will never stop until its all once again taken away from you. I’ve seen my parents get old trying to reach that goal. I’ve stood there and watch those heads turn gray and their skins become wrinkly, and they want more and they never stop, they need to maintain it and it’s become their worth. It’s so hard to be where I stand. We are not important, your ego tells you that you are but you’re just another bag of chemicals that has the ability to believe what you want to believe. It only takes one shift for your brain to give you the inevitable. You will eventually see it, and once you do you will reject everything around you and look for answers that you will most likely find, but will not sustain and satisfy your consciousness. You then run out of options and seek the easier way out. It’s such a tragedy to have all these thoughts because it’s closer to the truth. To some, an individual like me would be given the term crazy, or troubled, or weird, or mentally disabled, needs attention, etc. Its funny how there is nothing else we are allowed to discover so we spend our time constructing a standard formula and live around the designation of what’s acceptable and what’s not.

    It’s a shame that my vocabulary is too limited to make a whole book of thoughts before the awakening time. These are only the ones that have troubled me for the past 2 years, which I can say has the most effect on my emotions and thoughts and has lead into change.
    My human self has one weakness that has the most effect on my present realities, one that sticks out among hundreds of weaknesses. That is the deep attachment with the opposite sex. I have proved resort to (in standard terms) obsessive actions and tend to have a serious problem coping up. The feeling of rejection has such a great deal of cause to me. The worse case I can ever be is to find myself madly in love with a woman that does not feel the same way. I’ve been used and deceived so many times since I tend to let my guard down. I was a tool and it’s a truth that I never accepted. It was a delusion that I fought hard for, to the point where I’ve lost all sense of reality for something I’ve call “an unevolved tendency”. It feels good for the ego to get fed but there was a price and its much worse than I thought. It’s destroyed my will; I lost motivation, confidence, and all other human traits that were vital to excel in this type of time. Regardless of the negatives, and considering the fact that my focus, efforts, and health were at risk, it was all worth it. I jeopardized my well being for a chance to be with her, like a heaviest of drugs so potent that it can destroy me in months. Now I have nothing. All I can do now is choose, whether I should play a role for the system, or awaken my being through death. I am committing 48 hours for soul searching and to seek for any contingency answers. If not, I will have to choose. Nothing makes sense to me at this point. I will try this approach and I’m sure I might consider something.

    1. @mike Q,

      Don't do anything stupid. Life is a beautiful trip.

    2. Mike: Choose to keep trying. I seriously contemplated suicide in 2004, the year before I found my soul mate and got married. Glad I tried one more time!

    3. Hi Mike, there were times last year I felt a low point. I took a break and I spent time in the a peaceful place, away from the city - free from capitalism and commercialism. Its refreshing. Please try it too - try Sagada. I found some peace and now Im back stronger. I also spent time with kids in an orphanage, and started to do what my mom wanted so that at least I made her happy since I lost any worth for myself, suddenly I regained myself and im happier than ever. Dont over think, just do what makes you happy. Try being a hedonist for a short and drastic change. maybe it will change your perspective.

    4. God, Mike, your story is mine in spades, except I don't smoke cigarettes or weed (anymore). I wish there was a way to get to you personally, I found a solution to my problem. Look at your issue as organic in nature. You most likely have high oxidative stress. I lowered mine with natural supplements and I feel the best I ever did.

    5. I like your thought process ...and how true you have spoken. I have created my own little world to find the peace my mind and soul desire in order to exist and not go ape on people around me. I've got 2 children who I, unfortunately, have to give up to the system during the day (the system called school), but other than that, I moved way out to the country, have super nice neighbors, 2 dogs that love me unconditionally. I don't work because I hate the idea of my taxes going to some sleazy, greedy, power hungry politician. I do have a steady income and don't live off the government, but I keep it a secret from the government because I can spend my saved taxes in a much better way, than they ever could. I grow some of my own food because I don't trust those vegetable and fruit factories. My boyfriend has to work in the city. Him working in the city and the distance, eliminates him being around me all the time. He stays there during the week. Saves us plenty of everything and me possible headaches ;). I don't like crowds at all, because in every crowd, there is a lunatic. And since I am one myself, I don't think I should be around one (or maybe more). I don't have a TV because I can tell myself lies all day if I needed to hear them. Other than that, TV has nothing to offer me. My cars are big because as long as I pay for them, I guzzle my gas as I please. As you can tell, I am the total rebel. I had thoughts like you had, and they have enabled me to be this way. I stopped pleasing people to their desire because it didn't do a lick for me. My motto is this "Either you like me the way I am or you stay the heck away from me. I don't change for anybody or anything". If my boyfriend wanted to leave me today, I would open the door for him and make sure he didn't leave anything in my house. I lived without him before we shacked up and life will go on after he leaves. I love him dearly, but I don't base my life or existence around him. Love is found and love is lost - it's a never ending cycle. And after all, I would still have the love of my kids and my dogs. And even without them, I would do mighty fine. I'd find another love, which doesn't necessarily have to be a living creature.
      I do not think of anything bad that happened in my past for the simple fact that I cannot change it. What happened, happened. I only think of the good things and let those influence my present life. I don't let people influence my good mood with their negativity. If they try it, I leave them standing alone and move on. I've got better things to do than have people put me in a bad mood.
      You are the tool in your life. You can use your thoughts and actions to make yourself happy or sad, healthy or sick, strong or weak.
      Life isn't easy, but nobody said it was. You can make it hard on yourself by dwelling in negative thoughts and emotions, or you can make the best of it by doing things you enjoy, that give you pleasure and that you feel like doing. The choice is yours. I for myself always choose the enjoyable, pleasurable things. Life is too short for negativity. Next time, roll one for me !

    6. You say 48 hours, i just saw it this morning. If you made it until yesterday, i would think Ynnis would have kept you going until now.
      You sound perfectly normal to me and very honest. Some say medication will solve your problem, i say play play play.
      Play with life because life is truly a master game, it is not real unless you tell yourself it is, or you let them tell you.
      When i say play, i mean approach life as if you want to beat it, invent the game that will work for you against the actuality that is being put in front of you. See life as your opponent, don't take it seriously instead seriously take it on. Try to crack the absoluteness, as Leonard Cohen says: "there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in", it is my belief that this reality can be cracked open. Not an easy game.
      I too had a very easy childhood, as easy as they get according to all the stories i have heard in my life (54). It was so easy that i couldn't understand why it didn't stay easy when i finally took control and became an adult.
      Luckyly one thing that was part of my everyday when i was young, was playing games (board games, card games, word games), doing puzzles (the bigger the better), playing tricks (my dad is a mini magician), twisting strings into funny name a game way, we did it.
      So when life got difficult i cried, i didn't understand, i rebelled and then i started travelling to find out about people. Travelling changed my whole perception of what life is, i saw so many ways to be, to think, to have, to do, it made me realize that what is out there is in me too. I am a bit of everyone in a different degree, the best and the most evil. After concluding this, life lost it's sterness. It wasn't coming to me, i was going to it.
      An other action that changed my life was to connect to creativity. I had always done photography but i had never done something special in my opinion with photography. I explored the unseen and one day i turned the camera towards myself. That opened something entirely different as i was uniting my thought to my physical.
      I have been on TDF for over two years, i have stopped travelling outward and have been travelling inward.
      I haven't cracked the mirror that life is, there are some moments of questionning, i often sit talking to myself about a new strategy in my game. I never cease to see it as a game anymore, because it is. It is actually a real quick game, we think we may live 100yrs but in reality we live the time of a fart, might as well play and have fun.
      I have heard many times that in a past life we chose where to birth, i see it more like in this life i will chose how to die. For that i got to be sure that on the second it happens that choice has been made.
      Not the when but the how...hopefully with a smile on my face.

    7. "Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind"
      Unfortunately, our atoms have grouped together
      to form a three pound blob of fat, juggling neurotransmittors
      controlling our emotions like a puppet on a string.
      "Love" is like "time" both are so all-encompassing
      masters of our life but neither exists at all.
      But I've been at the bottom, and I always could find that crack of
      light through the gloom. Look for it.

  51. I think the pain and suffering of what we call "mental illness" could be, just a thought, not from the "sick" BiPolar people, but from the messed up world we all live in. The darkness.... the rambling pain... maybe a symptom of a mad world, a sick culture, that the organism Homo Sapien is not yet evolved to deal with.

    We as humans live far outside the environment our bodies are adapted to. It seems as though this is bound to create some problems.....

    Read my comments below to B. Costa for more of my thoughts

    1. or maybe the enviorment systems have not yet evolved to deal with true human functionalities, every human needs love and compasion in their life. in most cases of depression there is a person who is surrounded by people that are not on a similar intellectual level.

      people need each other of like mindedness. creative types are the ones who usually suffer most.

  52. 10/10

    These are the kind of docs we ALL should watch. To better understand others and ourselves. I think this "disorder" is much more common than you think. Its only the variations and degrees that are different.

    I "personally" believe Omega 3s are going to get a lot more attention on the subject of mental disorders.

    1. YES YES YES. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder at age 17 and Bi Poloar Disorder at age 19 and Borderline Personality Disorder at 24.

      I have been on various pharmaceutical drugs for the last decade. I am not currently on any regularly. Getting off them was hard but I am glad I did it. Not saying it is the path for everyone, but for me it helped.

      The two most dramatic and helpful things I have found to fight the demons I live with every day are Marijuana and Omega - 3 in the form of Flaxseed oil and Flaxseed chews. ( I don't do fish oil because I'm vegetarian)

      Look up the study done with Omega 3s in prisons. The violence rate is reduced dramatically. I know that, for me, taking Omega 3 supplements and Iron supplements help me have a better more effective life. I swear by them. I can feel the difference when I don't take them. I'm not a doctor, but I recommend Flaxseed to everyone I can. I am still battling every day, but it is not so bad- and they have been far more effective and felt far less toxic than the barrage of pharmaceutical drugs.

      I think American medical system is very resistant to the idea that what you eat affects your mood. And as we know, the American food system is well.... very ****** up.

      Everyone should try Omega 3's in some form.

      I also think that in America (I can only speak about the research and effects I have seen around me) we are severely over diagnosing people with mood disorders or ADD- especially children, teenagers, and eccentric adults. Just because a given culture does not like the personality of a certain individual does not mean that person has a disorder.

  53. My doctor with 30 years of experience in the field told me that I had about the worse case he ever handled.
    My sister had a dream in which I had hung myself. A visit to the local church resulted in the parson sending the police to my home the next day, to make sure I had not committed suicide.Today I function normally and usually am quite happy.
    Heres what I did.
    I was told to play “the dream game”. My mind is very powerful, as is yours.
    I was told to consider that when I dream at night,I am instructing all my dream figures to do exactly as I want. Suppose that I never awaken. (I realize in actuality we do, but lets play the game. )None of the dream figures can awaken me..I made them so I would not awaken. But someone from outside the dream could, if I want.I see exactly what I want ,and I need to not want to continue making up dream figures, and to want my awakener from outside the dream to awaken me.
    In the dream game, no dream figure on earth can awaken me.The Delhi Lama can t awaken. The pope cant. None of the guys on tv, talking about religion or whatever can.
    My name is Keith. Keith can t awaken me.
    I the dreamer of the dream can only be awakened by someone not part of my dream.
    So I come across this statement. “You would not react at all to figures you were dreaming.Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may. They could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream”
    One of the big dangers of the dream game is that I ,”Keith”, may proclaim myself as a teacher, or enabler , or a please send monier, and try to teach the dream game. I can t teach. This is only a message, and I don t say wheter it is true or not.
    The quote is from a Course in miracles, and the course has restored me to full happiness.. It does everything it says it will do. My part is to recognize that my bi-polarism is (or was) part of my dream that I wanted. It works for all other problems in my life too. It has lessons, from 1-365, 15 minutes a day. Takes a year.But I must let my teacher from outside the dream do the teaching. If I,keith , tried to teach that would be a denial of your TEACHER r, and we would both go iinto a deeper slumber.If you do want to take the course, remember this. The course can be downloaded on the net free .
    By the way, if you are a wealthy bi-polarist, it won t take your money away,but just provide a happy dream where you can really enjoy it.

    In parting, AGAIN,I don t say whetHer anything I have told you is true or not, leaving the door open to YOUR TEACHER to teach us both(no-one awakens alone)There is ONE TEACHER.

    1. I am interested in what you have to say but I think I need you to be a little more clear about the process - like ... what is the goal of this kind of dreaming?

      I think what you propose could be really interesting, you are just rambling a little bit and I am having a hard time understanding this interesting viewpoint because of your lack of cohesion and clarity.

  54. do you think you should get everything you want because you try? why?
    was it written somwhere that you should? whats wrong with just living
    as best you can? whats wrong with being depressed? be happy when you can and be sad when you can ...thats it.

  55. It was while I was watching a TV series around a month ago that I realised how much of what was being described of a character on the show was true for me as well. And, although I'd been vaguely familiar with the term bi-polar disorder, that show made me get up and check what it exactly is. At the end of it, I have to say, I was stunned to find that I recognised about ninety per cent of the symptoms as something I've experienced on a regular basis.

    And, as I sat through the documentary yesterday, I found I could identify with so much of what Stephen Fry and others said. At times, it was almost like having my own thoughts being echoed. Stephen's description of seeing an image of his parents' faces as he sat in the garage and his closing remarks are just two instances of experiences, feelings and thoughts described in the film that seem eerily similar to my own.

    Whatever else it does, the film helps to understand where a lot of the darkness comes from; that it does, in fact, have a reason; and, that a lot of others feel it too.

    I hope a lot of people around the world get to watch this documentary.


    1. I think the darkness could be, just a thought, not from the "sick" BiPolar people, but from the messed up world we all live in. The darkness.... the rambling pain... maybe a symptom of a mad world, a sick culture, that the organism Homo Sapien is not yet evolved to deal with.

      We as humans live far outside the environment our bodies are adapted to. It seems as though this is bound to create some problems.....

  56. I have always been a massive fan of stephen, Its so sad that there seems to be little help out there for sufferers - was amazed to see richard dreyfus suffers with it too - Stephen you are fantastic my dear whatever you are - great documentary

  57. That was a great and profound documentary. I wouldn't press the button either. I embrace the dark and light of being bipolar. It is a complete paradox, like a beautiful dance with the devil. It's just finding individual balance. If there ever is such a thing for us.

  58. I had no idea that Stephen was manic depressive and was somehow touched by the remarkably similar trajectory of illness we seem to share. What a compassionate and insightful exploration he has taken us on in this documentary. A beautiful work, thank you so much for this.

  59. This has to be the single best documentary I've ever watched. It's nice to know that after 17 years of dealing with this, there are others just as scared and excited as I am. If you, or someone you know is bipolar, I suggest you watch this doc and send it to those closest to you to help them (and yourself) to understand what it feels like to be bipolar.

  60. Makes you see him more as a real person ...not that i didn't before

  61. The feeling, it creeps up inside,
    I feel so alone,
    Everything feels like it's over,
    and it's time to go home.

  62. At the age of 13, I began wishing my mom never had me. I found the fact that
    I was too much of a sissy to do anything about it truly pathetic. Death itself does not bother me, it's the dying part I couldn't face.
    Later on I came up with the perfect solution however parenthood took away that option.
    I wasn't diagnosed till the age of 37, dual diagnosis of BP, ADHD.

    Before being diagnosed I had people suggest I showed signs of BP but I dismissed it, it seemed for a while everyone suddenly was being diagnosed and I was not brought up to run to the doctor unless it was real serious.

    I found my own solution to not being able to get out of bed which was self medicating of course. It always seemed strange to me that the crap I was on didn't seem to affect me like it did most people.

    It made me more like normal while making the people around me bizarre.

    I wish I had been diagnosed earlier. The meds are so subtle and slow to kick in, after years of immediate response, they suck!

    When on meds I do the Lamactal (sp?) I started on the Seroquel but OMG the dosage was so little and I was cutting them in 1/4, then 1/2, after 3 months, if I took 1 a day I would never have to get out of bed except to go to the bathroom, eat and meds.

    I also take Cymbalta, Lexapro and Vyvanse.

    Im beginning to see disturbing info about anti depressants making people more suceptable to accepting things they normally wouldn't, or less likely to protest when they normally would.

    I don't like that idea at all, especially not right now the way the government is acting.

    I sill do not know what people say Good Morning for?

    Is their really such thing as a good morning?

  63. This is one of the best, if not the best documentaries on Mania.

  64. the shopping spree scene was so endearing I watched it three times.

  65. i think where all mentally ill to some degree or another.
    im a film junky and watch upwards to 4 or 5 films/documenties a day.
    i can relate to each storie being told.
    bla bla bla bla

    1. You obviously don't have bipolar

  66. Stephen is one of less than 5 people in the world who I such a great man could spend periods of his life thinking he's a worthless cunt is testament to the crippling side to this mental illness...

  67. Posting more than a few lines to comment is normal. Any more than that is manic. Posting more than once on the same topic is unnecessary.

    1. And deciding for the world that all is yes/no, black/white or right/wrong is utter binary thinking which allows no nuance, and if humans are anything, they are nuanced. This is a very narrow view, built on a foundation of your opinions for a treatise on what posting is, isn't, will or wont be. I will paraphrase the Supreme Court's reaction to Mormon Polygamy; you can believe whatever you like, but you cannot practice or impose it upon others. So your law is fine for you, but announcing it here does nothing but declare your opinion. It isn't brought into some "Canon of Internet Posting Laws", nonetheless, enjoy your self ascribed limits.

    2. Posting for the first and only time on TDF, i would think you would have wanted to make it a bit more interesting.

  68. Wonderful Documentary and thank you to all that participated in this. I have shared this with friends, face book and Health Care Professionals where I live. I am a Health Care professional myself and this Documentary gave me a real insight and better understanding of this Mental Health Issue. I admire so much the bravery and honesty of all that participated in this. I think Steven Fry is a sensitive real human being and admire him enormously. I wish him all the very best. It is my hope that all ( and sufferers) who participated in this recall the many lives they have touched through their own lives, creativity and being WHO that are. All humans beings matter, have our personal ways and gifts which makes for a more interesting world ,with all the joy and sorrows that life experiences bring. It is through this that we all grow and learn .

  69. Very interesting documentary. Can't wait to begin my degree in Psychology.

  70. Does anyone know the name of the song playing in the background at the beginning? Thanks!

    ....figured it out Philip Glass- Hours soundtrack The Poetic Acts

  71. look, don't have the time or inclination to read this long and boring extravagance that is before me..All i know is that I am a battle hardened Army guy that has bi polar and have elected to self medicate…hopefullly I will continue to deal…just dont know

    1. Just take 20-30 minutes every day in a quiet room, close your eyes, and watch your thoughts without giving priority to one thought over another. Notice if you are making any effort to control your thoughts. If something disturbs you then observe your reactions.

      Disturbing things with come up. Just observe them and let them pass through your mind. Observe your emotional and physical reactions to these thoughts. Disturbing memories will reoccur but decrease in intensity over time as you see them in a fresh way.

      Some people are frightened by the confusion of their minds when they first start this choice-less awareness. Some people, perhaps you included, will be bored. Just look at your feeling of boredom. But don't push yourself. The idea is that you shouldn't be making any effort at all. Just do it for a few minutes in these cases and come back to do it again the next day.

      Eventually you'll find the mind becomes calmer. The process lets thoughts go to their completion which they sometimes don't do during our regular day. It releases the chaotic energy of thoughts.

    2. whether I am bipolar is somewhat debatable since I don't have mania as much as others, tho i do, just mine is more centered towards severe depression that comes and goes but as someone who self medicates...the best thing I find better than any medication, outlook on life, or meditation etc. is exercise

      exercising releases endorphins which makes you feel happier, helps to stabilize your neurotransmitters in your brain and reduces depression and mood swing. Exercise strikes at the biochemistry that is causing your depression and swings and works better than any drug and w/o side effects

      (tho if it is severe don't be afraid to try medication or seek other prof help... exercise does a lot to help stabilize your neurotransmitters and maintain your moods and provides a permanent healthy solution, but if you're going through violent swings or severe depression it's only go help so much)

      for exercise to be effective you have to really push yourself to get your adrenaline and endorphins pumping tho and do an intense work out often

    3. i have Bi-Polar Disorder type 1, and i agree that meditation is very helpful, and that exercise makes the biggest difference in affecting my moods, but i am also a big proponent of medication when necessary. i just finished grad school, and i know i couldn't have done it without meds. my doctors have agreed that they think that if i get to a place where i'm living a very balanced life--exercising daily, lots of yoga, very regulated schedule and sleep cycles, very healthy diet, low levels of stress, seeing a therapist regularly--then i can try to go off the medication. but i have yet to be able to maintain that lifestyle, and after spending over half of my life depressed to some degree or another, i have no reason to believe that i would be able to live a productive life, let alone build up to such an extremely stable lifestyle, without the help of medication for the time being. and it's not like during my depression i didn't want to exercise, meditate, and do yoga while cooking healthy organic meals and expressing and writing and painting and singing and dancing, but when a person is so depressed that they can hardly drag themselves through the horrible motions of a day that reminds them of how useless they are, it's unlikely that they'll make it out for a nice jog around the park.

      the deal with self-medication is that it doesn't work. you just mess up your body's chemistry even further, and most people don't medicate themselves properly. i was very resistant to getting my obvious Bi-Polar diagnosis even after i'd accepted my issues with Depression, and i was very reluctant to take medication because i didn't want to have to take pills in order to be ok and kept thinking if i could just get better for long enough to get back on track and stay on track, that i would prove that i didn't need medication to get better. but eventually i realized that if i didn't change pretty drastically that i would lead a mediocre life at best, with huge chunks of depression and occasional splashes of dangerous mania leaving me with a life that would always feel broken, even during stable periods. the truth is i would be selling myself and the rest of the world short if i didn't do whatever i could to be well, functional, and generally happy. and if taking a pill will help me, or you, or someone else you know and love to get better, to feel half-way decent most of the time, and to live up to the potential they felt they could never live up to, then who would i (or you) be to refuse to take a pill just because of false-pride? it's not an issue of being strong. you said hopefully you'll continue to deal with it, but it doesn't sound to me like you're dealing with it, just trying to mask it, hide it, or ward it off. there is no shame in managing your health. if you knew someone who had heart or kidney disease, would think they were weak for taking medication so that they could live a more functional and comfortable life? true strength is in facing the truth and trying your best to cope.

      furthermore, there is research that has shown that for people with mood disorders, depressive episodes do physical damage to the amygdala and hippocampus that can only be stopped and eventually reversed if a person is stabilized for an extended period of time, almost always with at least the temporary help of anti-depressants or mood-stabilizers. so, basically by not getting help and staying depressed, people are allowing themselves to get brain-damaged. chances are, you'd never wish for anyone, or at least someone you love, to feel the way you do sometimes, so why wouldn't you show yourself the same respect? if you are struggling, don't deny yourself the chance to live a balanced and fulfilling life that you can feel proud of. it's super hard to accept help, but it is well worth it when you feel how much easier and more enjoyable your life becomes.

    4. I was diagnosed BiPolar at the age of 20 and was told I would have to be on many pills for the rest of my life. I have been on and off medication for the last seven years. I am currently off - of my own choosing.

      I have been overweight since I was about six years old. Exercise makes me hate myself. I understand the physical reactions that exercise is supposed to make in the brain. I have seen it do wonderful things for many people in my life. It is important - life saving actually. But for me, I finish exercise feeling like a complete, ugly, sweaty failure. This was even the case in my childhood. Gym class made me feel depressed. Coming back from Tennis camp I hated myself more than when I went in.
      I tried running for a while and afterwards I would have huge crying spells and hours of suicidal thought. The more intense the exercise the more of a failure I feel like afterwards. I tried a sit up regiment for a while also, and the only way I could motivate myself was to call myself horrible names and pretend it was punishment. I would end up in tears, despising every inch of my physical body.

      I have found enjoyment in kayaking, but this is hard to do regularly. I walk almost everyday, usually because I have to. That seems to be ok as long as people aren't rushing me.

      For me, my depression is kept under control by five things: 1) Teaching (my profession) 2) Marijuana (daily) 3) Love (from friends, family, and my fiance 4) Omega- 3 (from flax seeds) and 5) as little stress as possible

    5. All of us that have some variety of mental illness have been told, and also have ourselves said "If you had appendicitis, would you not have it treated"?, and a thousand other similar similies, but we all know, whether we like it or not, hardly anyone fully follows that to a t. Why?, because we do not understand the brain well enough, we fear it, as any other unknown. Worse, we fear that those around us will fear us as a Monster, or mock us as mad, loony, nuts, or just politely keep distance.

      In my case I have a brain disorder to go along with all this, which has been around forever, people speak rarely of it, though it has some modicum of understanding that has slowly grown through the ages, it still has stigma written all over it. Guess it yet? I have Epilepsy, which still in many ways is thought of as "the other" just as Bi-Polar and Schizophrenic patients, but perhaps to a lesser degree, since only 2 of my friends have ever witnessed me in a full Grand Mal, but they all have seen me in the throes of panic or total, despondent depression. In fact, my friends expect a certain amount of depressive or panicky behaviour in me from time to time, since I am also disabled with a spinal tumor.

      Sometimes Im very very dark, and most times I employ a variety of strategies, (since I already take enough other meds to kill 5 junkies a day, I don't take any mood pills other than Tranxene, which is essentially Valium on Steroids, but it is also for seizures, panic, insomnia, and RLS) I run free in my own imagination as a break from everything else, and I spend a TON of time reading, watching lectures and documentaries, painting (when I can), meditation, music and enjoying the love of Family and Friends. (a pet can be your closest confidant in your family. Talking to my cat is just another way of me talking myself through the darkness, while enjoying the warmth and companionship of a beautiful creature that wants nothing more than to be with you, no matter what happened that day.

      As far as Mental Health Meds, I am unable to tolerate SSRIs, as they turn me into a raving monster, completely transforming my personality into a much more dangerous one. I also cannot take the old-school tricyclics, such as Imipramine, I get hives, and a dry mouth that tastes like I have a mouthful of pennies. For those that are helped by these meds, bless you, you deserve the relief, I am merely laying out what Ive had to do as a routine when medication is not an option. I cannot exercise due to my spinal issues, but when I weighed 260, and the doc said lose 40 lbs or stay on heart meds, and risk diabetes II...I had to do it with calories only, but now Im still 6'3", but weigh 174, so I lost almost 90, not bad (and I got off the heart meds, and my BP went to perfect). In April I will be one year smoke-free, after 34 years of cigarettes.

      Im not patting myself on the back, and what works for me, may very likely not work for you. I just wanted to share anything I could from my experiences, that perhaps in some small way will help someone in a dark place.

    6. If you were right next to me, i would be the one patting you on the back in a very respect full way.

  72. This reminded me of what I used to experience. It seems like another lifetime. Life now is delicious without mood swings and without drugs. And I had a severe variety being hospitalized half a dozen times.

    Certainly nutrition and exercise is highly important but I found that the key is reducing conflict in the mind. Not just early childhood trauma that a psychologist might focus on but all the uncountable conflicts in our thinking. I started with cognitive therapy -- it's a bit misrepresented in the doc -- the behaviour modification is not as important as reducing the conflict inducing reactive mental patterns. And you can do it yourself. Just get a book.

    I then tried Buddhist mindfulness meditation but moved on to the mediation of J. Krishnamurti. In contrast, to other means of meditation it does not create conflict i.e., requiring that you force your mind to give attention to an object like your breath. Every day I sit quietly eyes-closed and just watch my thoughts in choice-less awareness. I found that it made me feel much more grounded that Buddhist mediation did.

    The teachings of Krishnamurti I also found essential: getting rid of authority in your life is very important. A dependent psychology creates conflict. (I had already decided to sort my own mind out and had fired my psychiatrist.)

    I am skeptical of the inheritance theory of bi-polar. Last time I looked it hangs on twin studies -- where twins that are separated at birth still have a higher chance of becoming bi-polar. A possible explanation is that twins for 9 months share the experience of conflict in the mother's life with all the hormones that entails.

    I think bi-polar might be influenced by physical conditions. The discoveries they have made about white-matter in the brain are interesting. Maybe some people have more "noise" because of the thin-ness of white matter shielding the brain transmission lines. But even if this was true, the "cure" is integrating the signals of the brain.

    I think what happens is that some people have a lot more neurons firing. If the thinking of the brain is fragmented, in conflict, then when life events challenge one or excite one -- it could be a happy event when a problem is suddenly solved - the heightened multitude of firing neurons can't be integrated. One becomes manic and strange ideas develop.

    If you essentially virus-scan your mind regularly in choice-less awareness your mind becomes more integrated. You see the error of your thinking and your conflicts. Insight resolves the conflicts. When a life-event challenges you or excites you and you are tossed about on a sea of emotion you have a sturdy vessel to carry you through it on an even keel.

    I never have mood-swings now. I’m never depressed. I’m calmly happy and productive.

    1. Wow what what a great insight!

    2. Interesting.
      I just disagree with the 'conflict in utero' idea you propose. Of course, maybe I just misunderstood because of the way you expressed yourself - the word 'conflict' in this context is confusing.
      Certainly twins do share the same environment before birth and it's very probable that environment could influence the development of their brains in a most critical period, possibly leading to bipolar dissorder. And yes, stress and conflict in a mother during pregnancy could alter her hormonal status and this might be the environmental factor that is crucial for the children. I believe this is what you were saying.
      But keep in mind: twin studies do make a difference between fraternal and identical twins. Although there is often a difference between the form of the placenta between these types of twins, the chemical substances reaching the babies is pretty much the same in both cases. If identical twins show a higher bipolar-dissorder correlation than fraternal twins then it's logical to assume genes are an important factor.
      This conclusion would be further backed up if fraternal twins had a similar bipolar-dissorder incidence as siblings of a different age (those who did not share a uterus at the same time). I do believe this is the case with schizophrenia, a disease that shares some similarities with manic depression. However, I do not know the results of manic depression twin studies so here I am only making logical assumptions.

    3. You bring up some interesting ideas about the placenta that I wasn't aware of.

      Cohabitation in the womb seems like a possible explanation for the statistical correlation. The proof for heredity as being a major cause still seems quite weak years after these twin studies. Odd that everyone is accepting this theory as gospel.

      It is possible that "pretty much the same" between both types of twins could still be enough of a difference to give the small statistical variation.

      Looking at one site it says "The causes of bipolar disorder have not yet been precisely determined; however, genetics seem to play a large role. 80-90% of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder have a family history of either bipolar or major depression."

      In the film they say if you are bi-polar check your family tree. I wonder if there is any methodology to test this against a non-bipolar control group. Surely the average person will find some moody people in the family tree as well. Add to this that diagnosing someone is more an art than a science. And that if you are expecting to find something (with the relatives of bi-polars) you are more likely to find it.

      An alternate theory for the cause of bi-polar disorder could be that other than a certain level of intelligence such that mental conflicts become a greater concern -- less intelligent people would be less bothered, for example, by conflicts between religious values and what science has revealed -- there is no significant hereditary component to the causes of bi-polar disorder. People absorb ideas from the culture and are involved in interpersonal conflicts. Some people are able to resolve the conflicts of ideas and the experience of conflict between people adequately. Others like overloaded computers can't process the workload sufficiently (because of the nature and quantity of these conflicts) and develop an ever increasing backload of unresolved conflict. This eventually results in despondency at failure to cope or fragmented manic thinking.

      It could be that we see clusters of this problem in families as unresolved conflict tends to get expressed as more conflict passed on to those around. This doesn't mean that it's hereditary.

    4. even if it's not genetically hereditary, there is a good chance it would still be hereditary if it where entirely psychological; growing up w/ parents who are bipolar would prob cause you to also develop from experience a brain that is bipolar

    5. It has to be more than growing up with a bipolar parent. My husband has a type of mixed state bipolar that makes him suicidal. His mother had the same thing but she committed suicide when he was six and wasn't around much before. Her father had the same thing and committed suicide when she was five. So three people (grandchild, parent, grandparent) with the same dangerous form of bipolar but no one was alive long enough to actually raise the next one. It developed at the same age in each one too (late 20s-30s). My husband was really sick when I met him, but we got him treated and it's a completely different world for him now. Lamictal saved his life.

    6. I really like what you wrote, It's inspiring. I don't even know what my "problem" is, but I know I'm no emotionally stable.
      You wrote "just get a book", do you have a book that you'd recommend?
      Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

    7. "touched by fire" is a great book on the subject

    8. It seems you should be a fellow writing a book.
      Your views intrigue me.

    9. Like your theory. It could be like a traffic jam. Some people don't have them, some do. Under pressure, some of those jams cause incidents(neurons) and can even change, transform small roads into new forms. As a result, new maps are created, we get manic, loose track, awareness of our basic thougths. I definitely believe meditation, selfawareness and good methods can help us to controll ourselve to some extent. As long as we can not, medication can defenitely help us.

  73. After watching this doc and reading some comments, I feel so . . . normal: 20 to 39 at least. I doubt there's a true "0" person out there . . . . sounds like an ultra bore to me!

  74. This was a very interesting documentary. It convinced me that Bi-polar is a real mental illness (I had my doubts). It was very well done.

    However, what I have against this documentary is that it doesn't deal with the spiritual aspect of a person at all. It's not all in the brain ALONE.

    Thankfully I just watched a program last night were a man that was bi-polar and on medication for 20 years was healed by God (after prayer with a couple that came to visit) and now lives a normal life free from meds and free from the manic/depressive cycle (per his and his wife's testimony). Yahoo "Sid Roth guest John Waller" and see what you come up with. He's an extremely talented singer and his story really inspired me.

    1. Like any illness, it can be controlled. Like all illnesses, it affects a person spiritually and physically. Like all mental illnesses, it is never fully healed.

  75. @?va ,find yourself a psychiatrist instead of thanking to stephen!..greetings from turkey :)

  76. Tephen thankk you, I'm from Serbia and it is a very primitive environment and I'm 27 and a pharmacist by profession. Living alone with my mother who doesn't know how to help me had three suicide attempts and have to hide all that and sometimes my condition aggavates when I'm avare that I live in Serbia and as a pharmacist I can't find a job and I have had a good succsess on my University(92.3 of 100%) but here you have to have a connection and hide your desese thou BD isn't even a psychiatric disorder iti is a disorder of affection, Thank you, love you:)

  77. when that old man says " when you have walked with angels, all the pain and suffering is worth"

    it really is true..that world of limitless boundaries and one's belief in one's abilities,finding beauty in everything, doing everything as if it was a pleasure and interacting with the world as if it was yours and that you could give it all..

    woww.... what a feeling! its just that its not for ever!!

  78. when i'm up and in that amazing state where - well, it's indescribable to someone who isnt BP - but that feeling - if scientists could separate that feeling and make a pill from it we could feed everyone on the planet, get onto that glorious manic feeling - and save the world - of course, we wouldnt want to stop taking that pill but that'd suit the drug companies so why not?

  79. an excellent watch I highly recommend it! Stephen Fry is a legend

  80. Thanks to Stephen Fry for having the courage and heart to share his most personal thoughts and emotions.

  81. Diagnosis of bi-polar at age two because of a temper tantrum...well I never knew...would have thought my three children would somehow be 'abnormal' if they didn't have a temper tantrum by the age of one told me they were rewriting the manual...wait a minute my kids didn't come with a manual...guess it's about time they wrote one then the next generation can be brought up on life really that depressing?

  82. Thank you Stephen Fry. I would also like to thank vlatko and as a side note mention that I find the suggested similar documentaries to be fascinating in their ramifications. Delusions of grandeur often accompany mania. Still I can’t help but wonder if it’s not those with grandiose delusions who have helped to shape our world.

    I was diagnosed as manic depressive at 11 when I began experiencing rapid mood fluctuations which led me to make irrational and self destructive choices. I too was prescribed lithium however experienced the zombie like state as mentioned in this doc and chose not to medicate myself since. I have instead rely, like Stephen Fry, on coping rather than treatment. While I am able to function and survive on my own, I have not been able to truly progress in any of my endeavors. My personal relationships falter and fail. I’m not formally educated beyond trade schools and cannot afford any of the treatment options presented in this doc. The preceding post is precisely right when mentioning the limitations being poor or un-wealthy presents.

    I personally work in the field of cognitive behavior therapy and know utilizing these techniques would manipulate my moods, however I lack the ability to concentrate and stabilize my thoughts long enough to recognize or remember what I need to do when I need to do it. I believe in the ability to naturally manipulate our bodies through habit, diet and exercise however I lack motivation to change as I’ve developed the coping strategy of comforting myself. I too tend to sleep away the racing thoughts, lift my spirits with wine and food or numb myself to the abhorrent untruths and truths that play in my mind by burying myself in a book or fantasy of some sort.

    In the end we are who we are and can do what we can do. The one thing about those of us that are labeled with this curse or blessing is that we know we can do anything and can. We simply have to decide what we want to do is better ourselves……….. I would not push the button

    1. "...however I lack the ability to concentrate and stabilize my thoughts long enough to recognize or remember what I need to do when I need to do it."

      I know exactly what you mean. That's why this problem seems to continue even after you know that it exists. You would think that once you distinguished that this or that behavior or action causes you trouble, pain, or even aggravation you would be able to stop it, tell yourself to slow down and think about what you are doing for instance so you don't end up forgetting so much important stuff- but I can't. Every episode of mania or depression takes me for the same ride. I try to tell myself to slow down, get some sleep, don't get so carried away and passionate about things- but that thought doesn't stay in my mind long enough or become organized enough to take root really, because my mind is spinning with mania. When I am depressed I try to tell myself you know you have been through this before, you will come out off it, it will get better, but you are so hopeless you can't believe that. And even if it does go away you also know it will come back, that your life is this roller coaster ride that you can't seem to stop anymore. I admire your enthusiasm and wish you the best of luck, but I think it takes more than just deciding to better yourself, at least in my case. I can't speak for others.

    2. I understand exactly what you're saying wald0. I have found that knowing what's happening and understanding that it's only temporary makes the depression/mania worse because I "know" the solution but can't implement it. I'm very cerebral and in these cases having answers does more harm than good. I almost wish I could just drift through these episodes with an indifference that comes from ignorance instead of analyzing myself to the point of physical paralysis with a mind at warp speed. Someday...

  83. Wow, I have been told by several people many times that I am probably bi-polar, but I didn't realize how well I fit the profile until watching this. That last girl that wanted to be writer is like a mirror image of me. I grew up with wonderful grades and amazing creativity, lots of people bragging on how I would turn out to be something wonderful. I had poems published and got into public speaking and political movements, all of which were successful. Went to college during the summers while still in high school. By the time I graduated high school I had already taken care of my first year of college as well. But, my manic behavior and severe depressive moods eventually led to drug addiction, suicide attempts, and of course eventual entanglement with the law. I do now have my addiction issue under control, but I still have horrible depression punctuated by periods of severe mania were I don't sleep for days and love everyone and everything. I would say it is about even, mania versus depression. I stay in each mode for about two to three weeks at a time. Some times the mania seems to occur more frequently or last longer than the depression. But for people like me that are not wealthy and really have no outlet for that mania it can be just as horrible as the depression.

    I would definitely push that button he kept talking about, my mania doesn't add to my success like his does. It is mostly frustrating and ends up getting me into trouble because I do things I later regret, I am rude to people that do not deserve it, I over look or simply forget important things because my mind is moving so fast. I constantly start creative projects with great potential for success when I am in a manic state, but then I hit the down side and abandon the projects all together. The result is that I rarely finish what I start. I also get accused of misrepresenting myself a lot by people that only know me say from work or some social engagement, because someone that meets you in one of your manic states can't believe you are even the same person when you hit a down period, they think you simply played a part to impress them and now this is the real you. If they stick around long enough they see that you are both people and are being sincere, but most don't stick around and I can't blame them really. It is almost impossible to hold a normal job. Its always the same pattern. I get excited about a new job and the possibilities it holds and enter a manic state. This is great because you do wonderfully at work and start moving up really fast, you want to work all the time-literally, and you do so with unmatched enthusiasm and happiness. Usually this means you get lots of attention and start moving up, people are talking about how wonderful you are and how you are going to be the next start of the company- but then the inevitable down spell comes. The higher the high was the lower the down goes, so it really goes low in this situation usually. Most of the time you end up quitting or getting fired. It has gotten so bad now that when I try and talk to my mom about a new job or project I am pumped about she knows what is coming, she tries to warn me- but it never helps.

    Anyway, suffice to say I need help. This doc has inspired me to what ever it takes to get it. I will have to drive over a hundred miles to find a real psychiatrist or psychologist. The area I live in simply doesn't have any. We have a mental health department but they have no idea what they are doing, none of them are licensed or hold a degree- they are simply people that took a one year course at a local community college. Its hard to believe that in this day and age that could be so, but it is the truth. Alabama is like living in the dark ages. I went to the mental health center when I first realized I had issues and addiction problems, they told me I needed to turn my life over to God and just lighten up some (LOL). Thanks for posting this Vlatko, I think it has the potential to make a difference in a lot of peoples lives.

    1. Wow, Waldo! That was intense. I've been discouraged at times (like now), but nothing like you've mentioned. Do look up my post about John Waller, the singer. God can help; it's not just an Alabama Bible Belt cliche.

  84. Especialy interesting for me i was diagnosed as bipolar many years ago and throughout all the downs and depression follwed by the seemingly limitless creativity i also wouldnt press the button

  85. Ok, I think I get it now. This whole bipolarity and manic depression business is caused by society. I mean think about it.

    The only reason insane people are insane (or depressed or bipolar or hyper active or w/e) is because WE LABEL THEM THAT WAY. There is no sane or insane in nature, either you live or die and if you manage to live there is no difference of how you do it.

    Since we are no longer bothered with simple things (survival and so on) stupid made up things and self imposed ideas begin to shape our outlook of the world, hence the idea that you can be 'normal' or somehow ill/sick and so on. These things are not natural and can only lead to stuff raging from discomfort to suicide.

    So in essence I'm saying that if you are depressed or bipolar or w/e just go live in nature of the land stuff like that. I can guaranty that survival and all of discomforts that you might encounter living like that will pale in comparison to emotional and mental turmoil that you felt while living in the concrete jungle. Most of these 'sick' people would be perfectly able (given the chance and some guidance) to live apart from so called 'normal' world in their own real life made up world.

    1. NaoCat,

      I found your comments here interesting. I think I see where you're coming from with your logic. The sociological perspective often gives insight into social diseases, but Manic Depression/Bi Polar disorder is not a sociological disease. Environmental factors can certainly play a role in the advancement of the disease, but a subject has to have a pre existing condition.

      There was a lengthy study (one of many) on Amish families that indicated, at least tangentially, that labeling and modern society had little to do with the disease itself. If you're not familiar with the Amish, they are a religious group here in the States who reject modern living; refusing to watch television, drive automobiles, and they live in insulated communities (they don't live in society). Dr. Eager found 32 cases of Bipolar disorder in one community. He found that in these cases the disease was inherited. His research, in part, helped to establish the idea that Manic-Depression disorder is inherited.

      It is not 'caused by society', as you put it.

    2. Thank you for understanding what I said, it's refreshing to say the least.

      But still I have to elaborate on my position in this matter. When I said that it's 'caused by society' I meant that the only reason bipolarity is unhealthy is because of society that is too rough on the person having the illness, even though it might not appear doing anything wrong. By that I mean that all sociological and related problems exist solely in the realm of the society it's basics.

      It's like an allergy, if there is no allergen there is no hint of an allergy. So as I said before if one is away from the 'system' aka society, then there is no problem. Even if one has a pre existing condition it changes nothing because there is no one that can stimulate the person to see any negative effects i.e. suicidal tendencies or some substance abuse or even depression.

      The thing about amish is that they are still a society and even harsher version of it as I see it, so anyone with problems in a city will certainly have problems with them just the same. Technology isn't the problem.

    3. It is caused by an insane religious regime... I am sorry if that doesn't sound nuanced, but I have seen documentaries on the Amish and to me it looks like a breeding ground for mental illness : NOT because of the lifestyle perse... because of the inherent denial of human nature and pure brainwashing of individuals in such a hermetic religious society. But that's just me. I am very openminded and open for counter arguments. Also... Bipolar :)

    4. It is so easy when you are have never experienced this issue to over simplify it. Because your brain works correctly you can't conceive what its like to be this way. Everyone gets depressed or has ups and downs, that part of normal life. But it is not normal when these moods become so extreme that they cause abnormal behavior, when they begin to swing back and forth from one extreme to the other for no apparent reason. It is ridiculous to say it is because of our modern way of living, if that were so everyone would experience this and it would not seem so odd to you. Besides they have done plenty of studies on people that live socially isolated lives and they also experience this condition at approximately the same rate as their counter parts here in the modern world. Most of the people that have this condition have never heard of it so it isn't like they starting emulating it unconsciously.

      I grew-up/live on a self sustaining farm with my family, grow all our own food- built our home from timber that we made into lumber on our saw mill that my father designed and built- we grind our own corn meal from corn we grew- make our own molasses in the open pan over a hard wood fire-etc. We spend all of our time here in nature, there are enough choirs here that you could stay busy from now to the end of time and never get it all done- but my self, my mother, and my brother still suffer from bi-polar disorder. Sorry, but your assessment is incorrect, period.

    5. There seems to be a miss interpretation of what I said on you behalf. What I meant was that this bipolar 'illness' exist only in the perception of those who wave an idea of what is 'normal behaviour'.

      My initial assessment is that the people such as yourself are perfectly capable or rational thought and blessed with able body to take care of yourself. So why is it that you insist on being somehow sick/ill?

      Think of this in another way, if the now ever increasing number of people diagnosed with ADHD one day outnumber the 'normal' population, wouldn't it become the norm and thus becoming illness no more?

      Bipolar people DO NOT have a problem, the problem arises from the outside where people see your behaviour as strange or they impose the imaginary standards from comparing you at an earlier age or just one not fitting in/adapting to the 'parameters' set for a regular member of a society.


      From the description that they are imposing I fit being bipolar and severe depression is already in my health files so I know what it means. How do I deal with it? No meds, no drugs(legal or otherwise) self observation and putting a limit to my emotions is one way I choose. The higher you rise the deeper you fall, so keep it even.

    6. I DO think wild mood swings or depression as being either an illness, or a evolutionary dead end. It's not only human, it's (at least) mammalian.
      Modern pollution producing society (granting that pollution also includes human psych molding) perhaps is exacerbating the problem, but it is innate.

  86. Thank you so much Stephen for making this documentary. I cried from the outset when you explained what your depression felt like, it is exactly like mine. I am in a low period at the moment, it's hard to leave the house, what's worse is that I am a single mum and am struggling to make ends meet and keep up with my duties. Constantly battling feelings of self hate and using food to dull the emotions has deepened the descent. I have a family but when I have reached out for help they have shrugged me off as though I am being a drama queen. Lately I have wished it would all end but if it were not for my son. I completely relate to the last girl, we are very similar. I am an overachiever and when I am up I am capable of brilliance. I am a creative and a writer and I know that when I am tuned in it is like a higher power working through me creatively. When I am down I am blocked and my creativity finds it hard to come through. I just want to eat and watch tv and dull my life out. I don't answer emails or texts I just wish the world would forget me. What sucks is that I let a lot of people down who I really care about because their friend who they love disappears. I am aware I am doing it but I can't stop the urge to disappear. There is so much more to write but maybe I'll save that for a novel during my "manic" period. Lastly Stephen, I just want to thank you. Though I know you will probably never read this it makes me feel better posting it because from watching your documentary I now have a name for my problem; Bipolar.

    1. Your description to me screams Uphoria(pardon my ?spelling),and it can often be more dangerous than the depression.Please take care and get proffession advice yesterday.

  87. Ultimately in abstract, a citizen's health or his sense of helpless culminating in several pathologies, represents the degree of negligence or autism of a society towards him. Sociological nets made in a society could be metaphorically compared to a planet's atmosphere, and the necessary gravitational balance which would allow its vital and fragile existence. Now I'm improvising. :~)

    Great site, great BBC and Stephen Fry work.

  88. That's why as a society we'd be wise to promote wisdom, rather than obedience, as Montaigne suggested.

    1. Obedience has its place; I reather like it when my four-year-old obeys me and when he doesn't ---- a trip to the doctor for rabies shots! (a long story).

    2. re-read this a short story it doesn't make much sense!

  89. You don't have to be manic depressive to appreciate the insights of this documentary that all people can relate to in dealing with emotional ups and downs of life.

  90. Jose,
    If you have been raised in a very up and down household, one or both of your parents could have bi-polar. It's a condition that is genetic, so I wouldn't rule out that factor. Of course, chaotic households will produce children with a lot of "issues" (trust, confidence, focus, etc.),.

    I'm very impressed by your analysis as to how the family home environment is so very important in the successful raising of children. I agree that the majority of people need a good, stable, loving home environment to become good members of society.

    Luckily, some children thrive and become successful despite their growing conditions or problems (like bi-polar dissorder), which was explored in this film.

    Perhaps part of the problem with the growing number of people in modern society with "conditions" (ashma and allergies being big ones, mental health issues another), are caused by people blindly following modern society and ideas of success?

    Another thought. Does modern society create bi-polerism (and other dissorders) by creating it in children due to social stresses, etc., and therefore it becomes passed on into our genes?

    1. Thank you South,

      I think both my parents are, at least, their childhood was made also by traumatic events and ups and downs, so as their parents...
      I do think I have those pathologies, and I do know my obstacles are the result of a very oscillating compass of guilty and action which results in a devastating indecision - the depression.

      To thrive is a question of surpassing present when present is a step made: not to its validity be deteriorated by remorse or posterior indecision, as one is writing and after one feels what he'd wrote is rubbish. I do perish from this kind of problem as the pursuit of a thing masked as perfectionism: the absence of critic, the result of familiar turmoils devastating my personality.

      I do also have allergies and asthma, and I think in part this was caused by the disturbed pregnancy of my stressed and anxious mother, also by the lack or healthy aspects of child touching: the lack of it or its abnormal manifestations. I do think that allergies are in part consequence of that as also as hiper protection or the contrast between that and negligence or antagonistic caress manifestations while infant - which was my case. The organism becomes confused to how to defend himself. I think it's not by coincidence that asthma and allergies are strongly connected to the ability to deal with stress and the malfunction and misrepresentation of one's organism reaction towards danger.

      In my philosophical reasoning, I think society or educational figures as parents had demonstrated themselves throughout contemporary times as incongruent either to children either to citizens damaging the rising notions of a developing human psychological structure and specially when we are living in times where hysterical media and publicity live together with accessible knowledge. As Abraham Maslow wrote in his "Theory of human motivation" as also as Aristotles and Plato did, a sick citizen reflects a sick society, or in my terms, the binary result of a incongruent society where its educational values don't correspond to their practice, or practical actions. In those terms a society that does not see value in individual questioning (antagonist of tooling individuals) by its own agenda demands, in terms of sociological patterns, only generates unfitted characters or persons. I do also see a resemblance with children that revolt themselves against their education. Now I'm rambling when I see a parallel with religious dogmatic education and the fall of he who questioned.

      I think you have a very strong point when you mention that. I do think that abnormal societies, like the ones with higher gaps among social and economical classes, tend to use its citizens as products or tools to perpetuate the existence of certain privileged classes, as also as parents use scapegoating or frustrated projections with their children also as the products or tools as to dodge facing their own problems or achieve self-esteem by overloading their children with their non fulfilled dreams.

      This in my opinion results in a constant cycle when the problems are always avoided - I do this dodge often,

      finally, a helpless or a child living on his inconstant familiar environment is a more helpless victim on a sick society. I consider as Aristotles did, the stronger nucleus of a family the stronger construction canvas of an individual's character and stronger their society's health and constructibility by his contribution. Like erratic chaotic particles, individuals with destroyed families try to compensate that void by searching other "families" or nuclear familiar cores to attach with.

      I think that the real paradox here is families living in a pseudo state or splitting off so easily while the society they're living in is even more chaotic only adding more turmoil to the stabilization of this social apparatus. The domino effect takes place, but like an hierarchical pyramid of structural classes, society itself is the maximum archetype of an example, recreated later by family and later by its members and ultimately by the individual himself, in simple terms.

      If an embryo is affected by his mother's emotional state on her pregnancy condition, I think it's fair to say that the individual or the family is also affected by the culture of the society they're living in.

      I don't have background to positively or negatively say that an impression is made on genetic data by the generational continuity of this process. I think that at least that cultural familiar practices are molded within this way if education itself is generated by the repetition of the same errors and by the "dodging" reaction I mentioned in the previous post.


    2. I want to add that usually environment factors doesn't imprint to genetic data. What I think is passed down is genes that are prone to depression/anxiety under stressful situations, but stressful situations doesn't change genes. With that said, what is passed down is culture, and people with unstable family bring ups are more likely to continue the trend (although many do break out of the cycle).

      I think society remains the same as before, there will always be things we don't like but at least now we don't electrically shock children with bad behavior anymore. There is always a way to go but at least we could do something about it by starting with ourselves.

      Although diet and healthy life style is a factor in depression, for many people it is simply an imbalance in chemicals in the brain, and in these cases it's like Parkinson's disease (not quite, more like anorexia I think), in which case drugs are necessary. I think depression is complex and can be caused by different factors, and therefore there are different treatments, and different people will react to different treatments depending on their cause. Either way we shouldn't impose that one treatment is better than the other, or that the environment is the only factor. Some people could have happy lives but still suffer from depression, for example, Stephen Fry.

    3. Good writing, enjoyed your post.

      Some of the things you have written about seems to me, to have parallels to some of my own thoughts and actions.

    4. Thanks Achems, this a very deep thinking of mine.

      I think the reasons I mentioned aren't exclusive to the pathology itself, but they're greatly rejected in mainstream thinking. Scapegoating is older than history, and many people more advanced from their time or people that somehow chose to follow their own paths or the path of questioning, they were usually excluded one way or another when jeopardizing the "order" status of a society.

      I think these diseases are older as economical or empowered unbalanced societies are. I could quote, Plato's cave allegory, Gallileu's judgement, Sade's imprisonment, Luther King's assassination, Giordano Bruno's burn in fire sentence, Salem witches, Julian Assange's cables, etc. I raised the question to fit or to not fit in a society in philosophical terms. The binary choices are to fit and mold yourself into society's patterns or to be somehow labeled as "different" or to be worked to become fitable.

      My organic philosophical approach sees the individual as part of an organism in a symbiotic apparatus. Of course this is my utopian ideology, yet I don't see it as utopian but as a possibility. When I say more advanced civilizations I say the ones that are more inclined to this approach, where the individual is seen as an important organ of a society. An happy and considered individual is a potentially exponentiated more valuable contributor to the society or social habitat he lives in.

      Speaking for myself, suffering from many pathologies here mentioned, I too suffer greatly when seeing my intention is to make things better contributing for a better world, but becoming severely depressed to see that most of our world with many exceptions though, is molded to function in terms of a economic top priority agenda. My intellect knows this is stupid and antagonist of a better evolution and to the survival of human species. My emotional states enters in short-circuit seeing what we learn or what is dictated as moral an ethics is greatly not followed or it's totally incongruent by its preachers.

      It shocks me to see incongruence, it shocks me to see that to make better is a potential considered dangerous for the equilibrium of a stagnated corrupted society. You see this in the news everyday. And you get outraged as I do and powerless and depressed as consequence for feeling yourself so much detached from the society you defend. It's damaging and it could be irreversible, also it's totally unfair.

      I don't know if you know a portuguese poet named Fernando Pessoa, but this text expresses my idea more properly: "The Manifest from Álvaro de Campos". This person as many artists, scientists, philosphers, etc, were considered lunatic at their times, and hypocritically they were considered national symbols post-mortem.

  91. I would so press that button...

  92. I will admit, I would press that button in a sec!
    Most people wouldn't notice, but these meds changed my life, to a point, of course. It's the hardest fight you wouldn't wish on an enemy.
    Be strong.

  93. I'm only at the first part of the documentary (1st 20 minutes), perhaps it's too soon to make an opinion, but here's what came to my mind. I don't know what I have sincerely, I do know that one considering bipolar crisis or maniac depressive behaviors, one is considering extremes or extremed emotional states, in terms of common opinion, and I do know that in my childhood I was exposed to extreme emotional states by extreme external situations.

    Considering a child is like a very sensitive sort of blank page, one is very susceptible to be marked by his nuclear social attachments influences: the family and kinds marks, or contextual "scars". I could label as also as a social extremed family's expositions, the lack of exposition, i.e., a child being ignored.

    I wondered that one being maniac one could have been ignored while child, using extreme manifestations to conquer attention or surpass the lack of it: the repetition of that behavior while adult;

    and the bipolar manifestations, also resulting from dysfunctional families by extreme incongruent demands or education, causing the perpetual cycle enduring till adulthood from a child that tries to obtain a balance from an unbalanced incongruent and extremed education or familiar socialization.

    This of course taking in measure that a child is like a very sensitive film, and by several circumstances it could be overexposed by emotional trauma or familiar dysfunctionality.

    The strangeness and the reprimands by the parents for their children (specially when parents are the initial carriers of those pathologies) or their absence of self-mirroring or and self-admitting of their own incongruent or and extreme behaviors to the children, makes the cycling effect of the perpetuation of the same pathologies on a child.

    I wondered about these pathologies not being a genetic disorder, but the results of familiar disorder, specially, when the child is sort of a very sensitive piece of film and or the familiar channels he is exposed to are extreme.

    The depression comes by the resulting emotional turmoil of a helpless feeling, making the seek for the neutrality of that helpless sensation, the repetition of the enraged reactions to extreme conditions, the fight, and the cycle, the only emancipation through familiar disorders and the construction of a child's character specially when it's the only solution for the lonely child's sanity on a hostile and wild environment - the abnormal self-education he was forced to learn for surviving.

    I also think that familiar scapegoating, negligence and guilt could be the most devastating and contributive triad for a child's pathologies amplification or the metamorphosis of something with very potential. I'm pretty sure about that and I cannot avoid to quote greek myths about the inherent metaphorically psychology of parents eating, destroying or neutralizing their children as a repetition of what they've suffered as infants in their own childhood. What I use to call the traumatic familiar history couriers passed through generations by the mentioned triad.

    Pardon me for my english errors, I would like to know if this makes any sense to any of you.


  94. I've been suffering depression for years, most of my friends don't realise it, they think i'm just a bit down when i am normally a very happy person. Always refused anti-depressants so i can't comment on that. I've always had a very good diet, excluding the drugs and alcohol i have consumed and I have always been active. Being active is the key to reversing my depression, get on a bike and go for a ride and all my issues float away.
    Street drugs don't cause my depression - but they are a part of the cause of build up of not dealing with the issues that eventually lead to my bad days.

    1. Rejoice in your sanity. Just because you're sane doesn't mean you'll be happy; far from it. Any sane person couldn't help but feel depressed (I'd say, supressed) by the bad joke posing as reality. Those who appear 'happy' are most likely obsessively evading reality; like the majority of supressed people but they don't just give up and give in but battle away in a frenzy of optimissm. They even go so far as to see the good in every situation and believe the good in every body. Depressed people think 'what's the bloody point'? And that's the most critical question when you're bombarded with weapons of biomass destruction. You're right, riding a bike, gardening or any creative active focus banishes depression as we live in that natural moment. Free from the system. Thanks for your honesty and congrats on staying 'anti- depressant free.

    2. Nice post,
      Doing Art is also a very good healing process.

  95. when I saw that a teen in part 1 downing his anti-depressants with a can of Coke, well there's a problem!
    I was very depressed as a teen and through my mid-twenties, when I changed my diet, excluding junk food, and embracing more vegetables, less starch. I no longer found myself in that crazy hyper loss of control.
    I won't go on saying bi-polar is a nutrition issue, I'm sure there's a whole other spectrum to the disorder. But I will say, I wish they would pay more attention to what these people eat and maybe even try to enforce more than the pills. especially for young children.

    Myself and some of my close friends are in the beginning thirties feeling happy/ clear minded, looking back at our years of high sugar, and see clearly now, we have lost years of our lives to mal-nutrition...

    1. that part stuck out to me too. I am not comfortable with doctors diagnosing children and giving them that quantity strength of medication without going through years of behavioral and dietary therapy first.

      As someone who teaches kids you can tell what they've had for breakfast by how they act in the morning - pair that alongside phones, portable video games, and music players and you have a recipe for low attention span and symptoms that mimic adhd.

      All I could think of, when the mother had to take her son home was that - If a kid learns he can assault a teacher and get a 3 day holiday away from school, then you've rewarded their bad behavior. And if you let kids throw tantrums when they don't get what they want (like leaving class to go for a walk) and then give them what they want for acting out, that's what they learn to do.

      I think over diagnosing mental illness in children dilutes the real problem and drowns out those that really need help. That said there is a fine line between bad behavior and mental illness and that's where the research needs to be done.

    2. I just came off watching 'Cancer: The forbidden cures'. A good watch and one in which your comment holds even more weight. I know a guy who's ADHD was such a problem he doesn't hold a secondary education and was emancipated at 15 because his parents couldn't handle him. Since he was responsible for himself he stopped taking Ritalin and started daily food shopping for fresh foods. Since that he's educated himself in social science through an open university.

  96. fascinating documentary, thanks stephen for the amazing works over the years.

  97. If you have manic depression, or think you do, you most definitely should watch this.

    Stephen Fry is a wonderful person and I think he did a wonderful thing by making this.

    Although I don't suffer from manic depression, I have battled anxiety disorder. Thanks to counseling and finding the right prescription medication I finally brought it under control.

    If you suffer from a mental disorder, do not be ashamed to reach out for help and do not be reluctant to take doctor prescribed medications. It could save your life.

    1. I think Stephen Fry is a toff nosed git; yes, he's funny as a result of playing himself and a parody for the idle elites. Bad advice dude on the meds; better dead than med.

    2. "toff nosed git"

      - I have no idea what that means.
      I have forty years of experience under my belt battling depression and anxiety. Diet and exercise can certainly help, but there were times in my life where I needed more than just good food and a nice sprint. There are millions of people who have benefited from prescription medication and counseling. It's not a magic bullet or a cure, but for many (like ME), it kept me from going to jail, hurting myself, or other people. This extremist view that we should just chuck all meds is absurd. There is a difference between over medicating and medicating when it is necessary. If you disagree with me on that, I suggest you ask a medical doctor what he/she thinks.

      -As for you, I suggest you thoroughly consider your motivations before making comments about such a sensitive subject. Hopefully no one will take your comments seriously here.

    3. Have all you guys noticed that all of the people who suffer from depression smoke, drink or take drugs. Basically they messed up on their coping skills and take the easy way out instead of addressing the issues.

      I have suffered from depression but when I stopped drinking and smoking, eating well, excercising and being organised - I was fine!

      How many of you depressives do not drink or smoke or take drugs? Please be honest.

    4. That may have worked for you, but to claim it as a cure for all is rediculous, offensive and short sighted. The fact that you're comparing manic depression to "bad coping skills" is proof of your ignorance. I hate to be so "on the nose" with this, but you really shouldn't make such ludicrous statements as "a good diet that'll sort you out" when you really, clearly, have absolutely no idea.

      Are you a scientologist by any chance?

    5. Ah, I see now, you've used this one before. It's a very small bag of tricks you use to hurt people who oppose you isn't it? This method of attacking people and then claiming something like: 'only Scientologists do that'.

      That's precisely what politicians do. It's designed to confound the opposition into mute incomprehension I think, a void you fill with your own answer. I didn't realise you keep doing this to other people again and again, this bullying behaviour. I wonder if there are more examples on this site.

      So if this guy (RikG01) bullies you as well, just ignore him. Or maybe talk to a mod.

    6. I'm bipolar and I have never smoked, never tried drugs, and drink socially, very rarely getting drunk.

    7. 'the easy way out' isn't really a proper way of putting it... People with this disorder 'self-medicate' because they have this condition in the first place. What sort of coping skills should a manic possess in order to escape this disease? You can't just think or reason your way out of a chemical imbalance.

    8. I'm one who doesn't. I was diagnosed when I was 13 (I'm almost 30 now), and surely I wasn't doing any drugs, drinking or smoking when that happened. Bipolar isn't just one issue, it's multi-factoral. Simply stating that it's "their coping skills and take the easy way out instead of addressing the issues." is frankly insulting, hilarious and a poorly uneducated assumption.

    9. There's a difference between having been depressed, and being perpetually depressed or perpetually suffering from some other mental illness. Just because your own depression ended when you started living healthier, that doesn't mean that unhealthy living is the cause of all depression.

    10. actually i've been suffering from BPD and Bipolar 2 as well as stress and anxiety and other depressive disorders since I was young, i wasn't a drunk or a pot-head when I was 5, sir. I rarely drink now (I would say not even one drink a month) and for a long time I did not do or take anything else, but frankly after EVERY single drug the Dr's put me on made me horribly sicker and failed to help me, I tried smoking weed and have thus far found it's been the only helpful thing in controlling some of my major symptoms. The point is having a judgmental black and white view of things is ignorant and assuming what works for one person will work for another is just as flawed. Also I think we have quite enough stigma to work against in the Mental Illness world, so maybe *blaming the sick people (ie: you 'messed up your copings skills and now you're sick") is not the best way to go. Also I think anyone who has battled drug abuse, alcohol abuse or anything like that can tell you it's not exactly an "easy way out' thats just the point, friend, there is no EASY way out, but for some there are ways to dull the pain. Is it a good idea? Maybe not, is it helpful to just assume all those people are weak and move on? Absolutely not. Maybe you're just one of the lucky people who suffered from depression for a short time from life stress events or poor diet affecting you body's chemicals, or a whole number of different things, but it does NOT sound like you suffered from 'depression' as we are talking about here. And while we're at it, what about all the non depressed people who abuse drugs or alcohol or smoke? Over simplistic ideas and pure ignorance are -understandably- rampant on the internet, but if you're going to post something here, maybe things twice. Or once as the case may be.

    11. Same. I have tried several medications from the psychologist, but at the end of the day the only thing that calms the mania and helps me focus my mind to get a little equilibrium is exercise, good eating, mindfulness and weed.

    12. yeah...i'm with stephc on this one. the fourth is fairly critical and as brilliant as Mr. Fry clearly is i wonder that he never got around to recognizing the cycle of pharmacology careening through his chain of thought. does he wear this illness a bit too much like a badge, perhaps? too many people doing harm after withdrawal from the magic pills that hollywood is so fond of.

    13. You're comparing a passing depression that came from making crappy choices, to serious chemical imbalances that people are often born with? Don't be so stupid. There are, in fact, many manic-depressives who don't smoke or drink or do recreational drugs, and you cannot become manic-depressive or schizophrenic or anything like that from cigarrettes or whiskey. And no, these things are not the same as a passing depression - the fact you drank too much and became depressed doesn't qualify you as having had any relevant experience with serious disorders at all.

    14. Honesty, bevyrich, I have not noticed your first initial statement. I dealt with huge bouts of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts as early as age 8. The thing is, I had no good reason for it. I was never raped, molested, or went through any other traumatic incident, the causes were just not clear. Nowhere did I ever smoke, drink, or take drugs as a child. I see your viewpoint and where you are coming from, and I agree to some degree, diet and healthy lifestyle can and often will help someone function normally and happily. But, an imbalance is an imbalance and a disorder is a disorder. If a correctly corresponding diet can cure some imbalance, then it will. Who can know what this diet is all the time? It must be different for different people. The brain is an organ just like the heart, liver, lungs, or anything else. Brains can have abnormalities. I have had asthma my whole life and have some trouble breathing sometimes. Was this a result of bad lifestyle choices? Clinical depression is much different than just being sad, mourning some loss, or digging one's self into a ditch so to speak through bad lifestyle choices.

    15. I agree with the guy above. The brain is complicated. Depression alone by itself CANT BE HEALED JUST BY ANTIDEPRESSANTS but it can definitely help. I have bipolar depression and PTSD and Im a dude. I still try to make the best of my situation knowing that one day i will be better. But yes depression encompasses a number of things to get well, diet, exercise, working, and many times money. TO say antidepressants alone will work is like saying eating a couple slices of chesse will cure your aids. Like i said I have it, and Im a pharmacy technician, so I was skeptical of taking antidepressants, but if you need it you need it. My depression was crippling for a year though. i do beleive that people that dont have severe depression should find alternate ways to deal with it, but for people who have it permanently for life should be on meds. peace

    16. I dont think meds is the answer though it may help. I believe mild deprresion (what i sufer from) is all away of thinking of habbits yet it aint easy to stop and people who aint eva been depreessed aint got a clue yet they always seem to think they have. But to say "i depressed i cant never get well" is wrong attitude i believe in my heart i will get well in the end and you people should always hold onto that, there will be a better day, you will break through.

    17. Thats bull*hit. i dont drink or smoke weed or tobacco. I know many manic depressives that dont smoke weed or drink. and the ones that do smoke it seems to relieve their depression. And me being a manic depressive would say that most of the people that drink or smoke only due so to TRY to aleviate thier depression