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How a person with bipolar disorder become a good physicist?

  1. Nov 3, 2012 #1
    I am a year three who suffer badly from bipolar disorder II, it damages me both school grades and communication skills (and honestly speaking, not training myself on these things, I have been only doing only what I want, not what I need, bad idea) .

    nevertheless, I like nature, I spent far more time on thinking physics than my classmates (just to be specified) and I want to become a physicist.

    On the other hand, due to my state of heath, I plan one more years for undergrad (up to year five). Recently, I am controlling my state of mental, and the department head told me that he will write a recommend letter when I graduate. (that means I shall and be likely get an opportunity to research and learn under his wing).

    So I would like to ask a few questions here:
    1.) Is it impossible to become a physicist due to my state of health and environment? (I have kind professors, but our school gets few motivated student majoring in Physics)

    2.) Where to start to getting know bipolar disorder? I have basic knowledge of it, any recommend of book or even paper?

    3.) I know it is a long and hard way to become a physicist already, not to mention bearing bipolar disorder. How should I keep my ardor for physics?

    4.) And I would love any suggestions, thanks for your readings, best wishes to you :)
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2012 #2
  4. Nov 3, 2012 #3
    You need to speak to a physician more about your disorder.
  5. Nov 3, 2012 #4
    Bipolar disorder is a very horrible disease and it certainly get in the way of a physics education.

    I would suggest you to find professional help as soon as you can. There are many very good medications out there which can help you control the illness. Your psychiatrist will help you search for ways to manage your disease: medications, therapy, whatever. If you follow his advice, then I think that there is no problem with becoming a physicist. I can't say that I'm 100% sure of the latter statement, but I am sure that if you do not get help then you will likely not make it as physicist. So either way, getting help can only make you feel better.
  6. Nov 3, 2012 #5
    medications should be your best friends.
    mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and antidepressants are used for bipolar disorder.
    omega 3 is a mood stabilizer, too.
    boltzman was bipolar, too. he committed suicide.
  7. Nov 3, 2012 #6
    Wow, you're pretty good in making somebody feel better. /sarcasm

    Was the suicide remark really necessary??
  8. Nov 3, 2012 #7


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    Hey Shing.

    I'd recommend to understand Bi-polar disorder that you should meet with other people with the disorder and also psychologists, mental-health workers, and to some extent psychiatrists that are also familiar with the disorder in a meaningful way (not a superficial one).

    You need a few viewpoints and not just a psychiatrist since the role of a psychiatrist is only to dispense medication (that is their job) and not to provide any other support.

    They can give advice, make referrals, and provide their own analyses but again their primary role is to dispense drugs and for this reason you need to understand that all the issues for bi-polar (and other mental health disorders) are gained from people that have experience working with these people in a non-medical setting like psychologists, mental-health workers, social workers and counsellors, drug and rehabilitation workers and other people that have a more intimate connection with those affected.

    Speaking to people that have the disorder and relating your experiences to theirs is IMO, the best way of learning about it. If one is going through the experience, they will have the best way of relating to you if you have it.

    A doctor that has never been through a psychotic episode who tries to tell someone how to deal with it is basically a hypocrite even if they mean well: they can imagine it, they can be described what its like, and they can even get indicators like biological indicators, brain scans, and all the like for what the physical indicators are that describe the condition but they will never actually know what its like to be bipolar, schizophrenic, or anything of that nature.

    This is why I recommend talking to other people with bipolar because if they really genuinely have it then they will be able to educate you and relate to you and if you find someone that has been able to manage it, then you will get an answer to your question.
  9. Nov 4, 2012 #8
    The problem with speaking to the local mental health workers & sufferers is that they might not have much experience with high powered academics. Kay Redfield Jamieson is a leading academic researcher & populariser in this area, as well as someone suffering from the disease. I certainly wouldn't recommend just reading her, you should also seek out the people that chiro mentions. But there's no harm, surely, in seeking out the writings of the best minds in this area. Would you make do with chatting to local physicists and not read Feynman?
  10. Nov 4, 2012 #9
    Thank you so much for your advice :)
    I have a doctor appointment once every other week. (she is good and inspiring)

    The real hardship is my way studies is:

    1.)I can be creative and original,
    but I must study at a low speed (even with bipolar disorder, because simply being creative means a solid background knowledge needed)
    I will feel panic when I cross things that I do not know(will that happen on others?), but sometimes I will be very happy if I am allowed to explore the textbook (I would use the phrase "discuss physics with the author")!
    and I really cannot remember the problem types used to be solved, but the skill or wisdom are get into my brain and I can apply them again on other stuffs:)

    The good thing is I have a strong heart, and sometimes a clear mind,
    I will keep going and on!

    and yes, I do need psychiatrist. (hopefully, a kind and pretty and young one, the last I met was not majoring in bipolar order neither, a very kind and loving lady)

    So how to fetermine a psychiatrist suit me or not?
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
  11. Nov 4, 2012 #10

    Thank you for your reply :)

    there was a senior real brilliant on physics has a bipolar disorder too, I will go to ask his suggestions. (though there seems to be many sub-types of bipolar disoder

    And my recent doctor pretty cares about me, I feel so warm around her. And bipolar disorder is one of her fields. :)thanks for the reminder though

    And thanks to all others, it is a bit too late here, I will reply tmr for sure! Thanks for the cheers when I am so down!!
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
  12. Nov 4, 2012 #11


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    Gold Member

    Hi, Shing -

    My first year teaching, one of my best premed students had bipolar disorder. It was an atypical type that didn't respond well to medication. She had to overcome severe difficulties, so I was really proud of her when she ended up doing so well. Her description of her living situation was that she was surrounded by a lot of people who basically just collected a welfare check and watched TV all day. I think when you have a disability, it's easy to set your sights too low, and people may inappropriately discourage you from setting your sights higher. If you aim high, you have the possibility of excelling. If you aim low, you can only end up with a low level of achievement. Best wishes for successfully managing your condition and having a great life in physics!
  13. Nov 6, 2012 #12
    Thanks :)
    Is it okay for you to tell me if she receiving any medical treatment?
    Whenever I take pill, my mind runs slowly comparing with "normal" state and have a hard time focusing on thinking... :(
  14. Nov 6, 2012 #13
    I know :(
    but I think mostly due to other physicist, especailly Mach's prejudge and criticisms toward him
  15. Nov 6, 2012 #14
    Surely in the "up" phase of bipolar the problem is likely to be setting your sights too high?

    This might explain the incredible creativity demonstrated by many bipolar people. They set their sights to a position that people think is "too high", and actually achieve the heights, like Boltzmann with his atomic theory. But because they achieve "the heights" they will have a lot of small minded people shooting at them, even though they are correct. During the "up" phase this may be no problem, but during the "down" it must be. Hence Boltzmann's suicide? Maybe aim high but plan for the downside would be best approach?

    Anyone seen Homeland? It's just showing now in the UK. The main character there has bipolar, and I think the series does quite a good job of demonstrating a creative "up" phase that goes beyond the comprehension of "normals", hence she's shot down, and the "down" is pretty bad... but she has a supportive sister, who also happens to be a super MD... moral.. get caring and knowledgeable support ready for the down...
  16. Jan 14, 2013 #15
    I have Bipolar and got degrees in math and physics. My friends view it as a "gift". It's not so bad if you take meds and don't care what people think. There is a nice talk by Matilde Marcoli about this and also a little about Andrew Lange. "The dark heart of our brightness: bipolar disorder and scientific creativity"
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