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Personal stories of living with illness - Bipolar Disorder, or manic-depression, is an illness that affects brain function. It causes extreme moods in about 2% of the population. People with bipolar disorder can become high, over excited and reckless, or imagine that they are more important than they are. They can also become very low, feeling helpless and depressed, with difficulty making decisions and concentrating. Some experience mainly highs, others mainly lows, and some both. Some may be affected so much that they are unable to distinguish reality. Behaviour may be uncharacteristically irrational and risky. Most people with bipolar disorder recover well from episodes of illness. Symptons can be reduced, even eliminated with treatment, which generally includes medication and community support.