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Less than a year ago, while away at college, Zack had his first major manic episode.

After experimenting with drugs with his friends, he felt a sudden change come over him that persisted even after the effects of the drugs wore off. "The next day, I thought that I was enlightened and knew the meaning of life, like I was a Buddha or Gandhi," he recalls. "I felt invincible, like I was on top of the world and could do anything. I even thought I had psychic powers, like ESP. I didn't sleep because I felt like it was a waste of time. I stayed up all night writing poetry. I talked nonstop even though I'm usually quiet. I spent a thousand dollars on CDs, clothes, and food for my friends." When Zack came home, his mother, Nancy, realized that Zack was manic because her daughter also suffers from bipolar disorder. She immediately got him to the hospital.

What works

Things are good when I stay on my medication. At first I wouldn't — I was afraid it would change my personality and I didn't want to accept that I had an illness. Then, I was hospitalized several times after stopping the medication and I hated being in the hospital. Also, I lost two girlfriends that I really care about because of things I said when I was manic, so I need the medication.

Nancy has helped manage Zack's hospitalizations, consulted with doctors, and overseen his prescriptions. This caregiving, combined with the realization that she now had two children with bipolar disorder, led her to become depressed for several months. Nancy has coped by joining a support group through the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation and doing volunteer work with Families for Depression Awareness.

Zack's friends accepted his condition only after he talked to them openly about having bipolar disorder and they saw him go through his hospitalizations. Now they are protective of him and help keep him stay away from drugs.

alt Listen to an interview with Nancy and Dr. Richard Frank about How to Find and Pay for Treatment

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If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 800-273-TALK or 911 immediately. For crisis support via text message, text LISTEN to 741741.