With the college application deadline in less than a month, a ten-page Othello paper due before break, and over sixty surveys completed by Westtown high school students to analyze, I have my work cut out for me during these next few weeks.
When we got back from Thanksgiving break, Lily and I sat down and got cracking with the surveys. We split up the 62 surveys and looked them over to try to find some trends. I immediately noticed that nearly every person listed “Drug and alcohol abuse” as a risk factor for bipolar disorder. Lily found the same trend in the surveys that she was looking at and was surprised that so many people circled “Drug and alcohol abuse” as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Many people with bipolar disorder also have alcohol, tobacco or drug problems. Drugs or alcohol may seem to ease symptoms, but they can actually trigger, prolong or worsen depression or mania.”
It seems like drug and alcohol abuse was one of the most well-known risk factors even though genetic-vulnerability factors and stressful events also play a large role in the development of bipolar. As we got farther into the survey, Lily and I understood why this was the case. For question 16, “Where does your information on mental illnesses come from?”, most students responded with family, friends, and the media. Lily and I talked with Teacher Kiara and she said that the media aspect may be a reason that the overwhelming majority of students related drug and alcohol abuse with bipolar disorder. Popular movies and TV shows often portray the mentally-ill as being violent loners with chronic drug or alcohol problems. There are a few movies that break the stereotype such as Infinitely Polar Bear which tells the story of a manic-depressive single father. These movies are however, few are far between.
In the coming weeks, Lily and I will continue to meet and we hope to have all of our conclusions and trends completed before we head-off for break. We worked together today and recorded data for two out of the three pages of our survey. I thought it was going to take eons but we developed a good system and were able to finish it in a little over two hours. We are meeting this week to finish the remaining page and develop our observations and conclusions. I do not want to go in-depth into the results on my blog because we will be explaining our survey during the during the Independent Seminar assembly on Friday, January 8th. Right now, the game plan for our 20 minute presentation is to spend 5-10 minutes on a brief introduction to bipolar disorder and mental illness. With the remaining time we will share our results from the survey and leave a few minutes for questions. I want to give as much information as possible but I also do not want to put the audience to sleep so any suggestions on how to liven up our presentation would be greatly appreciated. All in all, I am excited and a bit stressed for what is to come. Hopefully, we get some interesting conclusions from our survey and our presentation goes well.
“INFINITELY POLAR BEAR.” Infinitely Polar Bear. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2015.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Bipolar Disorder.” Risk Factors. Mayo Clinic, 10 Feb. 2015. Web. 05 Dec. 2015.