Bipolar disorder, previously referred to as manic depression, is a complex mental health condition characterised by distinct shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. People diagnosed with bipolar disorder can experience extremely elated or irritable states known as 'manic' or 'hypomanic' episodes, or, conversely, deeply saddened or hopeless periods referred to as 'depressive' episodes. These emotional phases are often intense and can last from a few hours to several weeks.
Notably, the experience of bipolar disorder is deeply personal and unique to each individual. No two people will have identical symptoms, episodes, or responses to treatment. A wide variety of methods can be used to manage the condition, including both pharmacological treatments, such as mood stabilisers or antidepressants, and psychological therapies, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and psychoeducation
A particularly helpful tool for those with bipolar disorder is the Bipolar Disorder Awareness card. This compact, credit card-sized tool, crafted from biodegradable plastic, is designed to assist during challenging periods, particularly during an episode. The card serves to communicate the holder's condition to others when verbal communication may be difficult. It can easily be stowed away in a purse or wallet, or displayed more visibly with a lanyard and card holder. Its aim is to encourage understanding, reduce stigma, and facilitate more effective assistance from those nearby, without the bearer needing to articulate their situation under stress.