Teaching other people about Bipolar Disorder

Hi! I’m doing a presentation for a college class on Bi-Polar Disorder. I’m trying to think of some sort of simulation or activity or game to let people know more about what Bi-Polar is like or to incorporate some sort of audience involvement into my presentation. Please help with suggestions! How can I raise awareness about Bi-Polar
Being bipolar can be somewhat hard to simulate if you do not have it because of the unpredictability and the varying extremes in moods.  The highs and lows can get quite high and quite low within a matter of days or hours even.  The one thing that stands out most in my mind though that could be a great demonstrative example of being bipolar, is a roller coaster.

With a roller coaster, there are many different parts and speeds to it.  You gradually inch up, you speed down, possibly do a few loops or go up and down a few small hills, then the track catches you to regulate your speed and your direction.  Off you go again down a hill, there are a few twists and turns, up another hill and the track catches you again and slows you down.  You inch your way to the end of the ride where they take your seat belts off.  That is very much like being bipolar because while going up and down between mania, hypomania, and depression, you do level out (like the tracks catching you on the roller coaster).  Those tracks catching you and sending you in the right direction, or slowing you down, can be things such as your medications, different behaviors you have learned over time to help manage the highs and lows, or just biology in general.  When you have bipolar, and have been on the roller coaster enough, there are often times you can start to feel where you are headed and put the brakes on with the various behaviors or medications.  Sometimes though, you just don’t know, and have to let it take its course while using as many coping mechanisms as you can to make the ride a little less bumpy.

As far as getting the audience involved to feel what it is like, you can try using a see-saw.  Have one person sit on one end and have a second person, who is blindfolded, sit on the opposite end.  The non-blindfolded person will be the one determining the highs and lows and in-betweens.  The blindfolded person is going to be the person who will be feeling the sensation of what it is like to go up and down unpredictably, as someone who has bipolar would.  It is very difficult to try to simulate the actual “feeling” of the highs and the lows, so this will give the blindfolded person an opportunity to feel what the ride is like and to not have any control.  The non-blindfolded person should make the see-saw go up and down and different heights and speeds, sometimes stop when its completely horizontal, and stay at each level for different lengths of time.

You could add to that simulation by using flash cards. On each card, put an adjective that describes what it would feel like in each position.  For example, if the blindfolded person is all the way up, that would be considered mania.  A few words to describe mania would be euphoric or aggitated.  If the blindfolded person is all the way down, that would be depressed and an example would be hopeless.  Have the blindfolded person try to really feel that adjective while they are in the position on the see-saw.  That might help make the up and down simulation feel a little bit closer to how bipolar feels.

I hope these examples give you something to work with for your project.  I know I would love to hear what you finally decide to do for this project, as would the other authors here at Ask A Bipolar!  Please keep us posted and if you have any further questions or want to discuss anything in more detail, feel free to email me at christi@askabipolar.com

Good luck!!!!!!!!!!

6 thoughts on “Teaching other people about Bipolar Disorder

  1. Hi I am doing a similar presentation except in high school where I’m not allowed to bring in a see-saw. Do you have any ideas for me?
    Thank you.

  2. Hi,

    I would like to file a complaint. I am not happy with the way that your website is presenting the bi polar diseae. As I am one who suffers from this unfortunate disorder, I would like to presnet

  3. Christine, I am sorry that you feel that way. What in particular are you unhappy with? As you know, all of our authors (those that provide answers to our reader submitted questions) have bipolar disorder. They may be varying degrees, may be at different points in their cycles, and even may be at different points in their life as far as acceptance of their diagnosis and how long they have been diagnosed, as well as varying forms of treatment that have worked for them. All of our responses are based on our own personal experiences with the illness. We provide links to pages for other informative sites and places to obtain more information about the illness outside of our website.

    If you can provide me with some specific instances of things that you find are not accurate portrayals or where you disagree with what one of our authors have said, I would be happy to look them over and address them.

    As acting President of this website, I would never want to provide inaccurate information or information that would promote the stigmas attached with the illness. The pure nature of the site is to educate those who want to know more and want to obtain information directly from those who deal with the illness on a daily basis instead of just reading research done by scientists or opinions by doctors who do not have the illness themselves.

    I apologize that you have found our views of the illness to be negative, as our goal is to give the facts as we experience them ourselves.

    Again, if you have specific instances that I could look at and address, I would gladly do so. In no way does Ask A Bipolar want to promote any negative stigmas or portrayals of the illness, but merely want to educate from our own first hand experiences.

    -Christi-

  4. Hi, I also have a similar question, I am doing a presentation on Bipolar as well for a college Psychology class and was wondering if you had any ideas for a class activity to help education them on BD. It would have to be something that would involve the whole class and that could be done in a small classroom.

    Thanks so much!

  5. Well, do you have bipolar disorder yourself, or do you not have bipolar and looking for a way to accurately represent it? It would be easier to give some suggestions knowing how familiar you are with the illness yourself. 🙂 ~Christi~

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