Bipolar disorder – The Behaviors

Its most obvious symptom is very severe mood swings; it is a condition of extreme emotional states.


The highs and lows are much greater than most people will experience in their lives.

PSYblog, May 19, 2015


During the ‘manic’ phase people experiencing bipolar may have one or more of these 15 feelings and behaviours:

  1. feeling euphoric: very exhilarated or elated,
  2. feeling restless,
  3. aggressive behaviour,
  4. becoming extremely irritable,
  5. talking very quickly,
  6. engaging in risky activities,
  7. sexual drive elevated,
  8. thoughts racing quickly through your head,
  9. poor concentration,
  10. loads of energy,
  11. spending too much money on the wrong things,
  12. reduced need for sleep,
  13. feeling self-important,
  14. worsening judgement,
  15. and misusing drugs or alcohol.


Depressive phases may include one or more of the following 12 thoughts and behaviours.

  1. daily life no longer of interest,
  2. feeling hopeless,
  3. appetite changes,
  4. empty emotional state,
  5. excessive guilt,
  6. suicidal feelings,
  7. considering oneself worthlessness,
  8. chronic tiredness,
  9. forgetfulness,
  10. problems sleeping or sleeping too much,
  11. weight gain or loss,
  12. and concentration problems.

Melissa Spitz: Documenting Bipolar Disorder


Note from Adam to Mom, 2012, Melissa Spitz

Melissa Spitz has been documenting her mother’s experience of living with bipolar disorder with her photography in the collection: You Have Nothing to Worry About. (Photos posted with Melissa Spitz’s permission)


Quiet Please, 2015, Melissa Spitz

“Everyone says their mom’s crazy. And I remember being like, ‘No. My mom is crazy.'” Melissa Spitz knows more than most. The Missouri-born, Brooklyn-residing photographer is the artist behind You Have Nothing to Worry About, a Instagram account and complex, wide-spanning project documenting her mentally ill, substance-abusing mother.


There’s a lack of resolution in this narrative, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Those with mental illnesses are painted very often as loveable eccentric rogues or vehicles for another person’s salvation. The reality involves institutions, drug regimes, self-destructive behaviour. Many mental illnesses have no natural end. For Spitz, the project won’t finish for years. “For a while, the project was called Til She’s Dead. But that was a little too morbid,” she says. Spitz has been shooting with her mother since 2009 and plans to continue on as long as they both can, with the end result of a decade-spanning exhibition or book.

Instagram became a natural vehicle for her work for more reasons than just shareability. One has to view her account away from a feed to see the fragmented pictures slot together. Spitz explains, “[Instagram] was instantly a metaphor for looking at an understanding mental illness, because if you look at my [account] the way you’re supposed to, it kinda makes sense. But then things get jumbled up. You see weird corners and things that are blurry. Like mental health, you need to step back and view the bigger picture. You have to do it from the outside, from the grid, for it to make sense.”

-From Sarah Waldron’s September 4th, 2016 article in Broadly, “This Is How I Feel: The Photographer Documenting Her Bipolar Mother.


Debbie Sue, 1967, Melissa Spitz


Ashtray, 2015, Melissa Spitz