We've all seen it all over social media. Shameless is taking the world by storm. I resisted watching for so long, but it has me hooked. I'm approaching season 6, and the biggest thing going on right now is Ian is Bipolar. We saw it in Monica, the Gallaghers' deadbeat mom. One minute she was taking the kids on shopping sprees and getting a very young Carl drunk, trying to make up for lost time, and then she was in bed for days and tried to kill herself at Thanksgiving. Yes, I sobbed at the sight of that. She was sick and after checking herself into the hospital, she finally admitted her diagnosis to herself. Frank tried to convince her her family was all she needed. A young Debbie was confused and just wanted her family to go back to normal. She finally had her mom, but this was not the mom she wanted. The older members of the family knew it was a matter of time before the symptoms started showing in one of them. It's genetics, and Ian was the next in line.
So what is Bipolar? Is it always stealing a baby and going on a spontaneous road trip? Is it an increased libido and a disregard for any and all rules? Is it hallucinating that the military police is after you? Bipolar Disorder, also known as Manic-depressive disorder, is a mental illness characterized by highs and lows. It affects 12.3 million people in the United States alone, and symptoms usually appear between 15 and 25. Ian, being 17-18, is in the perfect age range. What do we do about Bipolar Disorder? Well, the Gallaghers are doing everything they can. Ian, while being upset about being on medication for the rest of his life, is finally coming to terms with it. He wants to get back to a healthy sex life with Mickey, and a trusting relationship with his family. He doesn't want to be a victim.
People with Bipolar disorder are not crazy. They don't always hallucinate, and they are not always violent when they experience mania. The Bipolar people I have in my life live relatively normal lives with medication. Sometimes they have plans to go on shopping trips, and sometimes they just want to be in bed all day, and that's okay, too. When they're irritable I try to be patient. When they're depressed, I try to be supportive. The important thing is to let them know they are not alone. Do regular activities with them, treat them like normal people, because they are. If they want to drive at 3 AM, go driving at 3 AM. We've all needed someone to talk to, or just needed to sit in silence with a person. If they have a bad day and talk about hurting themselves or someone else, listen to them and encourage them to get the help they need. Be a Fiona Gallagher or a Mickey.
If someone is in the right age range, and is showing signs of severe depression, or is talking about doing something uncharacteristic of their usual behavior, encourage them to talk to someone. It could be a difference in thier life.