6 Honest Documentaries Showing What It's Like Living With Bipolar Disorder

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These docs get living with bipolar disorder right.

An estimated 2.8% of U.S. adults and 2.9% of U.S. adolescents have bipolar disorder, a mental health illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to think clearly.

An estimated 4.4% of U.S. adults will even experience the disorder at some point in their lives. Yet, it's often not a topic most of the population wants to discuss.

This mental illness isn't easy to talk about (let alone, understand), but as with any mental illness, its effects on the lives of those who have it and their loved ones need to be discussed.

If someone you know is suffering from bipolar disorder, or you have been recently diagnosed, watching the six documentaries below will shed some insight on what it's like living with the illness from day-to-day and how to better manage it throughout your life.

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1. Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive

British actor and comedian Stephen Fry has been open about his struggles with cyclothymia, a less severe version of bipolar disorder. In 2006, he aired his two-part TV documentary, Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, to bring awareness to the mental illness.

The documentary follows celebrities such as Carrie Fisher, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robbie Williams, along with members of the public who have bipolar disorder. Each individual goes into great detail about the effects of living with the illness.

Part one and part two are both available on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. Watch part one below!

In 2016, there was a follow-up to the documentary—The Not So Secret Life of the Manic Depressive: 10 Years On. You can watch it on YouTube below.

2. The Devil & Daniel Johnston

This 2005 documentary chronicles musician Daniel Johnston's life from childhood to the present, showcasing the issues he's struggled with due to his bipolar disorder. It's difficult to watch what he's dealt with, but how he handles it is truly inspiring.

The full doc is available for purchase on YouTube here, but you can watch the trailer below now.

3. Of Two Minds

Debuting in 2012, Of Two Minds follows the successes and struggles of three individuals living with bipolar disorder in America. The film ultimately serves as a way for those without the mental illness to feel what it's like living with bipolar disorder on a regular basis.

You can buy or rent on Docurama, Amazon, or iTunes here. The full documentary is available on YouTube, which you can watch below.

4. Bipolarized

Treatments for mental health often vary and don't always work from individual to individual. In this 2014 documentary, Ross McKenzie tries varies treatments for his bipolar disorder.

Bipolarized also serves as a way to discuss the way we talk about individuals who seek treatment through drugs and unpacks how we can challenge the status quo.

You can rent or download from iTunes or Amazon here, or you can purchase the full documentary on YouTube here. Watch the trailer below now!

5. Bipolar Rock 'N' Roller

This 2018 made-for-TV documentary chronicles the struggles esteemed combat sports broadcaster Mauro Ranallo has faced throughout his lifelong battle with bipolar disorder.

Through sharing his battle, Ranallo hopes to inspire others with mental health illness to not let their diseases prevent them from following after their own dreams.

Bipolar Rock 'N' Roller is available on Showtime and Hulu, through the Showtime add-on. Watch the trailer below.

6. Boy Interrupted

At just 15 years old, Evan Perry committed suicide after battles with his bipolar disorder. His mother, Dana Perry, directed this documentary to showcase the importance of openly discussing mental health, which chronicling her son's struggles with bipolar disorder and the impact of his suicide.

Boy Interrupted can be purchased and rented through YouTube, Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play. It's also currently available on HBO and Hulu, through the HBO add-on.

Watch a clip from the documentary below.

Something to Note

If you or a loved one needs help, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor for ways to better manage bipolar disorder. If you'd like to do a little research on your own, we recommend using the American Psychiatric Association as a resource, just be sure to speak to your doctor afterwards.