Up/Down: Bipolar Living

Up/Down: Bipolar Living

2013, Health  -   88 Comments
Ratings: 7.11/10 from 136 users.

There are approximately 5.7 million people in the United States with bipolar disorder. In an attempt to eliminate the mystery and misinformation surrounding the illness, many throughout the country diagnosed with this condition were interviewed extensively.

They diligently explain the struggle to balance themselves between floating to a state of euphoria and sinking to a devastating depression.

In short, Up/Down is a personal analysis of bipolar disorder from those living with it. Bipolar disorder is just one of many mental illnesses that is still highly stigmatized in our culture today, and Up/Down could certainly be instrumental in changing that fact.

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oh brother
3 years ago

I guess black people dont get it

5 years ago

It’s scientifically proven that eating bacon ? make you happier

6 years ago

great video... I have a personal member of the family who had dealt with this for some time and still dealing with it. It has helped me gain an understanding of what she's going through. I particularly resonated with those who members of family related to those of bipolar. I can say how difficult it is being a direct relationship to someone with this disorder. It was great insight to what is going on in their head as they go through these high and lows. I have witnessed it repeatedly and am grateful for the director of this film. I will likely approach my sibling differently because of this. There are other factors that I yet still don't understand, but I personally know in my special case and relationship that the person I know dealt with trauma at a very young age and I'm unsure if this was a factor and or trigger. Thanks to TDF (topdocumentaryfilms) for putting out there all that you do.


6 years ago

Great documentary of brave people that can help anyone with this affliction. Having seen the suffering first hand with a young family member, I can only urge anyone struggling with these symptoms to seek help and take control of their destiny. The right
medication is the answer and there should be no shame involved, this is a condition that can be managed as these heroic people have demonstrated. Peace

Jake Leary
7 years ago

Proof of the problem. Insensitive people to a mysterious problem that gets people feeling so horrible they kill themselves. I'm usually angry to read comments like John Krisfalusci
posted but nothing this time because he has the empathetic disposition of Hitler. But I do wish it would afflict one of his family so he would see for himself how crippling it can be. Eating differently or thinking good thoughts isn't a cure. Wish I could meet you in person with a baseball bat and see if you could eat or think your way out of it smashing your head in.

8 years ago

Thank you, I watched it all. To the bipolar people interviewed, thank you for having the courage to do this and the family members who spoke. I am not bp but have people in my life with the illness and you all have given me and the world a better understanding. It explains a lot and is a rare and important film. I am grateful to you all.

Nicolas Jackson
9 years ago

Good documentary. I would like to know more about the resources that are available to help. I've been diagonalized with Bi-polar II. The daily personal struggle is very much about trying to keep some sort of working balance between mania and depression. The best I've ever been able to do with meds and therapy has been on the high end of the depression scale. That is being just depressed enough that I don't go on some crazy trip somewhere but no depressed that I don't do a few of my hobbies at least once a week or get out of bed at least once every 24 hours. I'd be interested to hear others experiences

9 years ago

great documentary very informative and well done !

9 years ago

Anyone diagnosed with bipolar or any other mental illness should be tested for medical causes, especially autoimmune diseases....in particular Graves Disease and other Thyroid related ones. Graves especially causes patients to very often first receive a dx of bipolar due to the endocrine hormone levels rising up and down and even can cause hallucinations, psychosis and sooo many more psych manifestations. I cannot count the number of people I know this has happened to.

regi monty
9 years ago

Thought it was interesting that there were no spouses of people with bipolar interviewed. I have been married to a bipolar man for 26 years, and committed to staying with him always. However, as I have grown older, the constant stress of this illness has put a huge strain on my emotional and physical well-being, as well as that of my children. My oldest daughter is now working on a masters degree in psychology, specifically studying the stress of being a child having to parent a parent. My husband has done some very damaging things to our personal and family relationships, that I am unable to continue to forgive. And yes, he has been the victim of job discrimination, losing two jobs during his career after he felt comfortable disclosing his illness to employers. That has taught all of us that it is risky to disclose this illness. Would be interested in hearing from long-time spouses of people with this unfortunate illness.

9 years ago

Wonderful documentary, what a lovely group of people. Thank you all for this insight into living with bipolar disorder, I have learnt so much.

9 years ago

(I posted this on youtube site, but filmmakers are holding comments for approval so may be censored there)...As a human being diagnosed bipolar I, an avid documentary fan, and a cinematographer's asst, found this film to be unwatchable. I gave it two tries and couldn't get through. The only beneficial aspect I found was the woman who described her detrimental experience with ECT and how she was persuaded by the published recommendations of Kitty Dukakis and Carrie Fisher. I think that needs to be made light of since psychiatrists are truly pushing this treatment and even forcing it onto patients as chic and without their consent. The camera work was distracting and teeeerrrrible and just felt like the narration and questioning will add more stigma or hopefully will encourage others to keep making better documentaries on the subject.

Millie Orosz Van Horn
9 years ago

I think all the people in this video were very brave to give over their thoughts of what it's like to suffer bouts of manic/depression, commonly known as bi-polar disorder. My daughter was diagnosed with bi-polar at the age of 23. I knew nothing about this disorder or what to do about it. After years of mental hospitals including shock therapy, she is now at the age of 50, living in her own apartment which was made available to her by a county funded mental institution. She receives SSI and pays her own living expenses such as rent, food, utilities, etc. She moved from a group home after proving that she could provide day to day living on her own. She is thriving and happy and I thank this mental health organization every day for giving her this opportunity to live her life independently. She has a case worker who takes her for Dr. appointments and shopping She still has days when she gets frustrated with things that happen around her that she has no control over. I documented her episodes with this very debilitating disease from the very beginning and from my perspective. It was very helpful for me, at the time, to write what was happening with her treatment and what worked and didn't work. I am interested in publishing this documentation in a medical magazine dealing with bi-polar. If interested, please e-mail.

Bryannd Guerra
10 years ago

This video was good in interviewing people to show the world how this disordered is really like but this video lacked n creativity and pertty much everything else a video could lack in.

10 years ago

omg so booorin asking randoms who dont know shit about it,,made me so uninterested i turned it offf,i wanted facts so i could learn! so annoying

10 years ago

Our Society tends to judge and label everything, bipolar is just a label!
What most people don't know is that we are not just humans, we are spiritual beings having human experience and everything is energy, the people in power don't want you to know this so they can easy control you, keep you in fear for their interests. When you suppress your emotions (e-motion=energy in motion) that's where
all diseases are coming from its stuck energy's in your body
(suppression=depression=disease) we all need to express our emotions if we don't wanna get depressed and sick, that's how the life-force works!

10 years ago

I read with interest, empathy and honestly with great sympathy about those currently experiencing bi-polar either themselves or with their nearest and dearest. These are the only threads that matter. Otherwise, the other comments are from people who for whatever reason wish to stick the stigma further. Why? Scapegoat? Bad expierence? I don't know. Ignorance isn't realistic in this World, it's easy to gain knowledge about any physical or mental problems, the word ignorance actually means 'not to know', which happens all of us all the time - acknowledgement and education is the difference. I volunteer for KidsCo .
org in London. They look after a shocking amount of children who fall through the government's hands. These kids become extremely difficult and join gangs. Not because they want to but because they have to - their parents and families do not and in many cases cannot look after them properly, so they grow up abused and confused. In my experience of myself and others I have met in mental health hospitals and in detox (for alcohol), all of them were abused in childhood - mentally, emotionally, sexually, neglectfully - it is not random. There are genetic factors, absolutely. There are also learnt patterns, seen or hidden, the child will pick up and learn the same. Us humans are litmus tests for the lack of care or the abuse we have experienced - it shows up in the brain and in the body, the behaviour and then the mind, because it is wrongful violation and wrongful treatment of a vulnerable child or young adult. This is absolutely the worst thing that we can do to each other, absolute violation is heinous and has disastrous consequences. There are strong statistics that give insight to show the darkness of these human wrongs. It's important that anyone who wants to dig deeper to understand does - Bi-Polar is not a coincidence and neither are many other mental health issues.

10 years ago

But as far as the descriptions of the episodes, these people explaining them are dead on. Def a great doc to hand to someone u want to understand you. I sent it to 5 people =)

10 years ago

I was diagnosed with manic depression when i was is in 6th grade. I was put on prozack and made to believe I had a chemical imbalance. The drugs made me suicidal for a long time. My parents made me go to see a therapist 4 times a month for years. Once i was an adult I was re diagnosed with bipolar disorder further making me believe I wasn't normal. I'm 32 now and I've finally took the time and effort to fully understand what I was really dealing with on my own and I've come to the conclusion that I suffer from PTSD. We forget how sensitive children are. I was surrounded by drugs and death as a child and as every child does I reacted to it. Healthy or un healthy a child and also adults react to anything and everything, Its just human nature. I wasn't sat down and explained anything. My parents couldn't answer anything I wanted to know so they just brushed me off thinking the schools would do the parenting for them but in reality all these children including me needed was someone real to talk to, someone to explain things in detail and allow an open forum for discussions about feelings and opinions. The diagnoses is always changing because the world is always changing. Parents need to step their game up and stop relying on all these specialist to tell them about their own damn children.

10 years ago

What Bipolar really is is really simple: A person boosts himself (psyche) too much which leads to mania (a totally natural state which increases chances of surviving / reduces fears). The mania then consumes too much psychic energy over time which leads to a forced shutdown; in other words depression. Solution to it all is really simple: Reduce dominance of your ego/narcissim - be less - be what you really are. And don't forget to take it easy.

10 years ago

Thank you for this brilliant documentary. Education and Knowledge is the key to understand this illness and deal with it.

I really recommend this doc. You'll decide if it's worth watching it

10 years ago

Thank you for this amazing documentary. Education and knowledge is the key to understand this illness and deal with it.

I really recommend this doc. Have a look at it, and you'll decide if it's worth it

10 years ago

i'm bipolar AND i have Asperger's, too. i consider myself lucky -- my life has its serious ups and downs, but the ups are worth it. my mind is full of great ideas and i'm very creative and charismatic. i've made -- and lost -- interesting friends. medications help a lot with the depression, and i enjoy the heck out of the mania :) i found this doc pretty boring -- i'm more interested in the scientific data and less with what people feel, but that's the Asperger's rearing its head. i could say lots more, but i have to get back to my knitting ;)

Ray Garcia
10 years ago

Probably by far one of the best documentaries on the subject of bipolar disorder. A must-see for anyone living with the condition or those of us who know someone with it. My advice is to use it as a tool to better understand why those afflicted with the insidious disorder do the things they do...

10 years ago

OK,so you want to know what MANIA feels like ? If you take LSD 3x daily throughout the day.You don't want to eat or sleep for days and months.
My Psychiatrist agreed with my definition.I was on a 3 month run.OH,and of course the Police are involved for your agression that flares up or other odd behavior.Not fun because you are afraid of the Police and they are afraid of this odd person that is MANIC and TALKING FAST.

10 years ago

My mother, recently deceased at age 80, was diagnosed just seven years ago with bipolar disorder. She flipped out after Daddy died in 2006, was hospitalized four times over 18 months due to severe manic episodes with psychosis (delusions and hallucinations). I flew to Texas from California nine times while she was hospitalized, moved in and out of her home or assisted living facilities, and eventually to get a guardianship so I could help her.

I knew nothing about bipolar disorder when she was diagnosed. I read everything I could find, including her decades of journals. It explained so much. All the things about her that were so uncomfortable for a child to experience. Why she wasn't like a "normal mother."

Bipolar disorder is an intermittent episodic illness that influences a person's moods, conduct, and even personality. Some people can function normally for long periods and only have brief episodes. Others cycle rapidly. The genetic brain chemical imbalance can turn a person into a quick-witted stand-up comic, a reknowned poet or composer or a family's nightmare.

Families will typically know nothing about the illness until it strikes their gene pool. And the system of secrecy and privacy creates obstacles for families who want to help and be helped. It is terrifying to see your loved one out-of-control. When I first saw Mama in the psychiatric hospital, I feared that we had lost this maniac to the state mental hospital for the rest of her life. How could someone so lost return to Earth?

A miracle....Medication.

Mama did very well on lithium and in secured assisted living for six months. She decided to move to CA for a fresh start, where she was very happy. She was stable, until her fiance suggested there was nothing wrong with her and that she didn't need medication or the guardianship. She ended up back in the hospital last spring, at age 79, and six months later was tragically diagnosed with terminal cancer. Mama died one month and two days ago.

The bipolar diagnosis was a godsend. It explained so much. I had always thought my mother was odd, then later "just an alcoholic." (Her diary reported "racing thoughts" and drinking wine "to calm down.")

I remember Daddy telling me once when I was pretty young that Mama was "not right in the head." Her hypomanic behavior embarrassed or frustrated me pretty regularly during my childhood. The hypersexuality, the grandiosity. Hot pants at the church picnic. Coffee dates with strange men. She took me to skating lessons, and she came home with the trophy for her skating. At church, she was the song leader, the Sunday School teacher. At school, she was the homeroom mother who hosted all the parties. In the neighborhood, she was the party hostess and always the Life of the Party. She was the star of the family.

But I hid away from her a lot. Mostly in my bedroom. The extreme energy bursts wore me out. I compensated for her fieriness by creating a quiet, inner mental life. When I emerged from my cocoon, I basically just watched. She had many friends and fans. She worked very hard to assist others, and to please people, to do all the right things in the most phenomenal public ways. Her memorial and obituary wrote themselves.

The hypomania became more problematic post-menopause. The family knew something was wrong. She jumped into a fountain with teens and removed her clothing at an out-of-town hotel, had to tied down with restraints when her leg got a staph infection and she refused antibiotics. The police first took her to the psych hospital after neighbors complained about loud music at 2AM. She was planting thousands of flower bulbs.

But people loved Mama. They thought her eccentricity charming. One night, in the middle of a Panhandle blizzard, she began moving all her household furnishings from her the family's large home into a tiny one bedroom apartment. The manager thought it was "entertaining" to watch this hilarious old woman driving on black ice after midnight and cramming so much into her apartment. She wanted to turn her wing into a New Age retreat and was collecting napkins from fast food joints she liked, eg cookies at Schlotzky's.

Mama hid her depression, but her journals revealed secret insecurities, self doubt, occasional self loathing, a couple of suicide attempts no one knew about. To her admirers, she was always the happiest, wisest, most talented, most productive, most energetic woman they ever knew.

They didn't know about the dead bird in the hat. The raw eggs in the oven. The refrigerator covered in magic marker gibberish. All the newspaper clippings taped to the windows. The emptied cabinets and closets, everything sorted into thematic piles with knives stuck through candles.

The craziness.

I don't miss the craziness. The meanness. The exhausting energy. But after she was diagnosed, stabilized, and began to slow down with age, I could finally catch her.

I miss her so much. Because most of the time she was not crazy. She was my mother.

10 years ago

Some where in here is a Doco about Placebo effect , letting people think they have had surgery when the whole thing was staged yet they improved after " surgery" most of this stuff is in the mind and we need to spend money on this and not wars.

10 years ago

i'm scared of being happy as the following downfall is unbearable....
so i'm in constant search of monotony with a light shining unreachable at the end of the tunnel,,,never reaching for it ,just enjoying the view of it!
hard to keep balance in an unstable cage.

10 years ago

Let's start another thread ... I've watched, read and educated myself about Bi-Polar - I like the picture that advertises this video - a rollercoaster. Myself, I experience Bi-polar as a consistent journey in a car where I crash, recover, get another car and begin my journey again. It's an exhausting way to live. The crashes vary, just as they do on the road, some are minor, some are major so the recovery times are different. It would be nice if I could simply visit a garage to get the repairs done and would be great if there was a Breakdown Service to bring me home.

Education and personal responsibility is vital, just like any physical or mental disorder, there are reasons why they have happened and many ways of adressing them. High Blood Pressure, High Cholestoral, Diabetes and Allergies just to name 4 (there are many others) as well as the things which happen us all on a regular basis like Colds and Flu, Viruses and Infections (to name 3, there are many others). These things all require specific treatment, my true wish is that Mental Health is treated with the same general agreement that it needs treatment.
Mental Health disorders are not random, just like physical disorders, they can be a combination of genetic, social and life experiences, all of which lead us to where and who we are.

I am sad about some of the comments but realise that the term Ignorance doesn't mean that a person is set in their ways, it simply means that they haven't had the education or experience to understand at least and to empathise at most.
The World is moving in the right direction to understand and take away the stigma of those from Bedlam, so let's try to understand and act from this point rather than react instantly with comments that invoke negative emotions - isn't it better to learn something, to be able to have a conversation with others that is enlightened and to look at the amazing ways in which our lives have formed through our lives. Life means nothing at all without compassion ...

10 years ago

That's like the nicest group of bi polar people they could of assembled, most I have met are violent and trouble makers, Where are the bi polars that cause misery to all around them? Where are the young bi polar men that assault and attack people for no reason?

10 years ago

Ladies & Gentlemen,
I'm sure that by now you have all met (as a result your lives have been enriched beyond measure) the distinguished expert on all things & general all around know-it-all. If not, allow me to introduce you to the little self-important pain in the @ss: young John Krisfalusci.

Now that I have read little Johnny's comments & thus have all the answers, I probably have no need of wasting my time on this doc. On second thought, I think I'll have a look. Most offerings on this site are worth the while & there were a few other comments of praise & thanks for this doc.

10 years ago

Thank you for posting this 'most excellent' video about BPD. From August 24, 2004 until February 10, 2012 I was in a relationship with an undiagnosed and in-denial BPD Super Alpha female, who busted up the relationship almost every time we got together, with mood swings which were 'off the scale' in 'normal' intimate-human experience. Having come from a self-immolating family myself, I mostly-lovingly stuck with her until she finally dumped me, just over 14 months ago.

Unlike 'healthy' men, I came from a highly dysfunctional family, which
disintegrated when I was 8 years old, leaving behind a permanent wake of devastation and destruction. I had an under-educated mother (with her own depressive, possibly BPD issues). My two younger brothers, two younger sisters, and probably my two youngest half brothers (the elder of whom had a schizophrenic break, aged 16), all have had their own ‘issues’ – from my mothers failed attempt to find happiness again. Mother died aged 59, 15 years ago, alone and deserted, in Sydney Australia, of recurring breast cancer – 48 hours after I received the phone call from the hospital, to me in Dorset, UK.

Since March 1993, I have coped as best I could (difficult with chronic
depression) by fortnightly visiting my then two toddlers,) because of
paroxysmal vaso-vagal attacks, every time I returned from ‘contact’, from physical and neurological exhaustion. About 8 years ago I discovered my ex-wife was BPD, and in treatment – though treatment did not mollify her extremely hostile behaviour towards me. I moved back from Dorset to Brighton, Sussex, in 2000, for economic reasons. Brighton is 120 miles from Mid Dorset. 80,000 miles driving, in 10 years of frustrated contact.

My two children both inherited our joint dysfunctional baggage –
unsurprisingly. My son (IQ 155) has engaged in much self-destructive behaviour, and also my daughter, since both reaching adolescence – but I ‘wasn’t there to help’ due to my exes hostility. My son is now at Glamorgan, studying for a BSc in Aeronautical Engineering, (and still gets into fights), and my daughter has returned to studying, through Open Uni, after turning down a Business degree at Oxford due to pregnancy, and a rushed marriage to an army closet-psycho (which
turned out to be disastrously violent, and ended after 2 years). She now lives back in Blandford, Dorset, near her mum.

I am now in the process of cementing an extremely powerful and liberating relationship, with a highly intelligent and incredibly beautiful, youthful woman of 53 (who looks 10 years younger), at my ripe old age of 61 – I stopped believing in God 10 years ago, now I’m suddenly not so sure. My emerging new partner is a world authority on post modern philosophy, with an MA from Lancaster Uni, and a PhD from Sussex.
‘D’ speaks fluent French and German, having taught both at Lancaster. Luckily for me, she left a miserable marriage and a later damaging relationship behind, to become my life-affirming prize. She is my queen, but is finding it difficult to accept her ascension to ‘Royalty’, like Princes Diana.

Had I known what I know now, my last relationship might have continued more smoothly, apart from her ‘Businesswoman of the Year’ control-freakery, and untreated BPD. I would like to still support and show her love, if she could only accept part-responsibility for her violently destroyed two previous marriages, and our devastated relationship. If you can only manage to get your BPD partner to admit liability, there is hope.

Sometimes, showing unconditional love and forgiveness, and getting BPD educated, is the best one can do with no support network, like me.

Be brave. Never surrender to the illness. Always give twice as much love as you receive. Love conquers all. Teaching self-love, with enlightened self-interest, can often work for both parties. Good luck – but get mutual support, where necessary. No one is ‘strong’ in isolation.

No person is ‘an island’. No wounded soldier gets left behind. That is my pledge. Love conquers all, and is stronger than death.

Crystal Brook
10 years ago

I have a friend who confided in me 2 years that he had been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder.. I am so very grateful for having watched this fantastic documentary to help me to understand what it is like. I congratulate the brave people who took part in this documentary.. welldone!!

Cornelius Jannik Katt
10 years ago

Hi! Fun comments. I'm bipolar so I thought I'd share.

There are many lifestyle components to mood. This is where people get confused because they are able to manage their mood through lifestyle. For them, it's as if they are in a ship on a lake and it bobs up and down on the waves. For someone with bipolar, it's like being on a ship on a tidal wave. So, you have an issue of extremes. The second issue is frequency. For bipolar people, their mood events are more frequent than people. People also confuse mood (manic/depressive) with attitude (optimism/pessimism). It takes a while to learn the vocabulary to describe mood events. Finally, mood events alter your consciousness. This aspect is typically ignored because the mood component is more pronounced. I had an extreme amount of delusion, solipsism and dissociation. People who can control their mood with lifestyle changes never, ever have that last part. That's why they can't understand what people with this disorder go through ... they can never understand how this disorder changes how you perceive the world.

10 years ago

Trolls depress me...but tons of trolls make me laugh. Weird.

10 years ago

good doc.ive seen docs here since this page was started and its not very often i comment on a vid ,but since im bipolar suppose i should ..life is never white or black its 10000 shades of grey .docs like this light up that grey a little for others to see what some of us live whit all our lives

10 years ago

In my world ( engineering ) "tons " usually refers to weight.
Glad for you that you have all your friends catalogued and also all the answers to their most difficult worries and fears.
I guess you do everything to your own satisfaction ?

"sheesh" to you to , whatever that means in your land ?
(In Scotland it is usually a way to tell someone to be quiet urgently , eg , when poaching )
Having overcome my depression with the help of friends and medication I will just wish you well and hope that nothing ever goes wrong in your uncomplicated and (so far ? ) healthy , life . ....

10 years ago

I've got a pretty good joke for this doc...but I think I'm just gonna leave it alone.

10 years ago

Dear John (Krisfalusci) , if only depression and so many other life changing afflictions were as simple as you suggest. Trust you ? Why ?
I think you will have lost friends who have experience of depression or are bi polar, by your arrogant and ignorant statements.
Grow up

John Krisfalusci
10 years ago

You silly people just make me laugh each time. Don't you peeps know anything? You are depressed because of chemical imbalances really... to fix that, just rely on moderation. For example, we learned at School that vegetarians suffer more from depression and other clinical ailments the most. Coincidence? I don't think so... those lack of protein and other important nutrients are really necessary for healthy living physically AND mentally... and that will prevent you from having those huge mood swings! And anxiety? That's because at one point or another you are addicted to something again physically and/or mentally. Again, moderation is key! Just TRUST me~ ^_^