The Bipolar Disorder Society of B.C. is looking for six Greater Victoria residents diagnosed with bipolar disorder, aged 19 to 25, to help fill what founder Andrea Paquette calls a “gap in youth research.”
Having recently received a $159,000 research grant from the Vancouver Foundation, the society, along with the University of B.C.-based Collaborative Research Team to Study Bipolar Disorder (CREST.BD), are forming youth action groups here and in the Comox Valley. Each group will research ways in which youth can stay well while living with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of mania, in which the individual feels overwhelmingly happy and energetic, which can result in irresponsible choice. These periods of mania transition into bouts of depression, in which the individual often feels unmotivated, anxious, hopeless or isolated.
Statistically, those diagnosed with bipolar disorder face a much higher risk of self-harm or suicide than the general population.
“It’s a challenge every day,” Paquette said. “It’s more than having good and bad days. One day you can be euphoric, goal-oriented and so energetic you can’t sleep. The next morning you won’t be able to get out of bed for three days.”
Paquette said that those interested in joining the youth action group don’t need any previous experience, but should have an interest in research and be available one to three days a month for the next two years. Training will be provided by a Toronto-based group, with research methods being decided afterwards. Positions are paid.
The society will also be hosting two research forums, open to all youth aged 16 to 25 suffering from bipolar disorder, the first of which will take place in January in Victoria.
The society runs several youth mental health support groups in Greater Victoria, including a Langford chapter at the Centennial Park Recreation Centre aimed at young men and women 18 and over.
Paquette said she formed the groups after seeing a lack of supports for youth.
“It’s amazing to see how the groups have grown. You’ll get people who haven’t gotten out of the house for six months come down and make friends,” Paquette said.
“Every day (living with bipolar disorder) is a challenge, but with therapy, medication, nutrition and support, you can still live a full life.”