Living with bipolar – one family’s experience

Bipolar disorder – formerly known as manic depression – is, like many mental health disorders, often misunderstood. There are as many people living with bipolar in the UK as there are with coeliac disease – around one in 100 – yet while most people know the cause and effects of coeliacs, few are as educated about bipolar and how to accommodate those who live with the condition.

Celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Demi Lovato speaking honestly about living with bipolar has gone some way to raising awareness of its effects, and they’ve shown that sufferers can live successful and happy lives. But for those who don’t have millions of followers on social media, it can be incredibly difficult to communicate their needs to people around them without attracting negative attention.

Richard Christy, 34, began experiencing mental health issues when he was 21. After several misdiagnoses, he was confirmed as having bipolar disorder in 2008. He now runs a support group in his home town of Fleetwood, and is supported by his wife, Michelle, and parents Di and David. I spoke to the family on behalf of national health and social care charity Making Space – here are their searingly honest stories about living with bipolar: