TL;DR: Bipolar, previously referred to as manic-depression, is a mood disorder wherein the patient experiences dramatic shifts in mood and energy, often referred to as states of mania and depression (you can see where the old name came from.) Bipolar comes in a variety of flavors (the most common being Type I and Type II), and while this page is more general, you can find a detailed discussion here on Types of Bipolar Disorder.
Please provide a “friendly” description of what the disorder might feel like to someone experiencing it, and what it might look like if others were observing.
Please provide a rough overview of common treatments (e.g. “You're most likely going to try an SSRI first” or “Usually people diagnosed with this need both meds and therapy.”)
Add any information here for warning signs specific to this disease that may be helpful to know. For example, you might want to include that it's very common for people with bipolar disorder to think they can stop taking their meds. Mentioning disorders that are frequently comorbid would be worthwhile too.
Is this likely a life-long thing? Will any of my symptoms ever get better? Can I expect potential relapses?
There is significant overlap between the symptoms of people with Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder, which isn't made any easier by the fact that these disorders often appear comorbid. We have tried to break out some of the differences and ways to distinguish between the disorders on our Bipolar or BPD? page. It also goes into some detail on dealing with both together.
Read about some of our personal experiences with Condition.