What I find interesting is how people who share some distinct trait, belief, or status–however rare–seem to gravitate toward one another without any conscious effort whatsoever. If agnostics and people who believe in some amorphous “higher power” are not included, the percentage of atheists in the U.S. apparently ranges from around 5% to around 15%, depending on the parameters of the survey. Yet well over half of the people I associate with are atheists by any measure. Similarly, this Web MD slide show cites the 2% figure I have seen elsewhere with respect to the fraction of the population believed to be afflicted with bipolar disorder; I’d have to say that a far greater fraction of my friends and associates have been diagnosed as bipolar.
Anyway, the slide show is a great overview. The curse of bipolar disorder is that people with it, especially in its less explosive forms, usually find the manic or hypomanic phases not only tolerable but enjoyable, and may often be more productive in some areas of their lives (or at least believe that this is the case). So when the depression hits, they find it easy to believe that their moods are under conscious control and that if they simply fight to reclaim the high of days and weeks past, it can happen. Since this is not how things work, people already experiencing “organic” depression excoriate themselves for their perceived weakness and incompetence, perpetuating a very nasty cycle within a population already apt to have alienated most everyone in their lives and thus operating largely in isolation.
Humans break so damned easily.