As if you don't have enough to handle just getting through college, wham—you get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Truth is, the timing makes biological sense. The late-teen years are a vulnerable period for onset of mental illness, whether you're at college or not, because of the way the adolescent brain develops and teenagers typically behave.
Finding out you have bipolar is a blow, but it doesn't need to knock you out of the game. With lifestyle changes and plenty of support, you can totally score that diploma—especially if you're willing to take some extra time, have a plan B and, most of all, accept and accommodate the illness, says Russ Federman, PhD.
“I feel very optimistic about students' ability to lead satisfying and productive lives,” says Federman, director of Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Virginia (UVA) and co-author of Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult's Guide to Dealing with Bipolar Disorder (New Harbinger, 2010).
“Bipolar diagnosis isn't a sentence,” Federman points out. “It's a factor [young adults] have to accept and adapt to, but don't we all have that in one form or another?”