Here's an unusual - but accurate - description of the brain of a person with bipolar disorder. 'If we did an X-ray of the head and the mind, it would look like a switchboard with 20 calls coming in,' according to New Jersey psychologist Sam Shein.

He said that people with bipolar disorder make choices based first and foremost on what is most pleasurable and convenient. Seldom does an individual whose bipolar disorder is not treated make choices based on logical reasons. Based on the above description, it's accurate to say that a person with bipolar disorder would take the calls based on which ones came in first. Others would probably screen the calls and then make a decision.

Many times, experts say this decision-making pattern of people with bipolar disorder begins early in life. It's not unusual in fact for children of parents with bipolar disorder to share their behavior and eventually develop emotional difficulties of their own. The Counseling Center at the University of Illinois has determined that some of the emotional difficulties children of parents with bipolar disorder have included: depression, shame, confusion about their identity as well as having a negative outlook on life.

Additionally children of parents with bipolar disorder may have problems with making commitments or difficulties with money, alcohol and relationships.

Experts say that the presence of a mental illness - including bipolar disorder - that self-esteem is the first casualty. With no regular outlet for building their confidence, many people seek what mental health professionals call 'the least common denominator.'

Instead of finding a person who is truly sincere in helping the individual work through the bipolar disorder, they seek someone who they use as a crutch. This person then becomes an 'enabler.'

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that people who suffer from mental illness are often susceptible to other disorders due to the 'downward drift' of their original problem. Consequently, they encounter another problem and that's economic. Eventually they may find themselves living in marginal neighborhoods where drug use is common.

The group's web site then explains that these individuals, already experiencing problems with social relationships, are then exposed to the drug culture. This affords them all-too easy access to regular drug use. In fact, the site continued that a person with bipolar disorder may decide that any identity - even one in which he sees himself as a drug addict - is more acceptable than an identity of a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Treatment of bipolar disorder, however, offers people an emotional outlet, according to Shein. It helps them develop coping strategies without the aid of another person and without illicit drug use. The first step to strengthening self-confidence is admitting that there is a problem.