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Learning to Live With Manic Depression

April 08, 1993|ANNE KLARNER

When you suffer from bipolar disorder, commonly known as manic depression, it can get pretty lonely. That's why Bernadette Almeida founded the Bipolar Bears Wellness Assn., which will be putting on the discussion "Creativity, the Arts and Mood Swings," at the Pasadena Central Library on Saturday.

"There's nothing out there for us," Almeida said.

At least nothing that's oriented toward socializing.

Almeida doesn't knock support groups and counseling. In fact, she thinks they are important.

But "we're the icing on the cake," she said. "We're there so you can go out there and live life and do it with people who understand."

And Almeida is one who does from her own experience.

"I'm what is called a rapid-cycle bipolar," she said. "I go through severe mood fluctuations (very quickly). You just never know how you're going to feel in a couple hours or a couple days."

Once homeless and living on the streets or in shelters, Almeida now works at an outdoor advertising company, where she has been since 1989.

"What changed was medication and acceptance," mostly her learning to accept herself, Almeida said.

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She founded the association while interviewing other bipolars for a self-help book she is working on. People would call to chat and "I'd say over the phone, 'Let's get together, let's have a picnic,' " she said. Soon plans were made for the next outing, and the next, and the association was born.

Almeida said Saturday's talk is for everyone, bipolar or not, who is interested in the connection between mood swings and creativity and how they affected such famous manic-depressives as artist Vincent van Gogh, and writers Anne Sexton, Virginia Woolf, Lord Byron and Edgar Allan Poe.

It's free and starts at 1 p.m. in the library auditorium, 285 E. Walnut St.

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