Since I started working on bipolar education, I've had thousands of people subscribe to my mailing list, I've received at least 1000 questions and comments about the disorder, I've spoken to hundreds of people over the phone, and I've attended dozens of meetings about bipolar. As a result of all that communication, I've been able to come up with a list of the ten biggest mistakes that people with bipolar disorder make.

Keep in mind that the following list is not in any particular order.

1. They don't realize the importance of money. Money makes the world go around, especially if you have bipolar disorder. The less money you have, the more limited your options are when it comes to doctors, treatments, hospitals, etc. Unfortunately, most people with bipolar disorder don't realize that they need to watch their money carefully and plan for the future. They have to take steps to protect their finances during an episode and to not get cheated by erroneous medical bills.

2. They don't take their medicine properly. Some people with bipolar disorder don't take their medications regularly, so they are usually in and out of episodes. Other people actually go off their medicine to make sure it was working or to determine if they are really bipolar. Both of these are huge mistakes. You should always take your medicine as the doctor directs. If there are problems with the medicine or you're having side effects, then talk to your doctor.

3. They don't use the free resources available. There are tons of FREE resources available that will help you manage your illness and become more stable, but very few people with bipolar disorder actually use them. You can contact mental health organizations in your area to find out what's available, then make use of them.

4. They don't accept help. Individuals with bipolar disorder are often very stubborn when it comes to accepting help, even from their friends and loved ones. Unfortunately, the disorder simply can't be managed without outside assistance. Every bipolar person needs at least one individual they can trust to protect their interests and look out for them during an episode.

5. They don't plan for future episodes. When I started planning for my mom's future episodes, people in my family said I was being too pessimistic. They're wrong. I was being realistic. Bipolar disorder doesn't go away, so you need to have a plan in place that will make those future episodes easier for you and your loved ones to deal with.

6. They don't have a support team. If you have bipolar disorder, you can't do everything on your own. You need the help of friends and family members and that's why it's critical that you put together a support team of people you trust the most.

7. They don't take care of their physical health. When someone suffers from a mental illness, it can become that person's primary focus and he or she often loses sight of other health issues. Eating healthy and exercising will not only keep you in better shape but may also prevent some of the triggers that led to bipolar episodes.

8. They don't apologize after an episode. During episodes, you may say or do hurtful things to the people you care about. If you don't apologize after an episode, you may lose that person from your life forever. Don't let the disorder rob you of your closest relationships.

9. They don't listen to others about episodes. In most cases, your friends and loved ones will be able to see the signs of an upcoming episode while it's still in its initial stages. They may ask you about them or suggest that you contact your doctor. If they do, you should listen to them. Bipolar disorder clouds reality, so you can't always see how things really are.

10.They don't realize there's nothing to be ashamed of with the disorder. You have nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to bipolar disorder. It's also not all in your head. Research has shown that bipolar disorder is a real condition that is caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals. Instead of feeling bad about what you can't change, you should be working to educate the rest of the world so that they'll change their perception of the disorder.