The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive is a documentary by Stephen Fry, one-time comedy partner of Hugh Laurie (lately the star of House.) Fry talks with both American and English sufferers of bipolarity about the effect of their illness and examines his own history and his current symptoms to decide whether or not he should resume treatment.
He discusses the (apparently American) trend to diagnose this disease rather early and muses about the link between his own creativity and mania.
In part 2, he searches for the answer to his apparently worsening symptoms by talking to people such as American actor Richard Dreyfus, who has been on lithium since the 1970's. When he goes through a depressive episode during filming, he talks openly about it rather than his usual coping mechanism of hiding in his house and searches out a family whose grown daughter had resisted medication and hospitalization because of the fear of stigma.
He faces his fear of ECT and psychiatric hospitals by researching both and speaks to a doctor who keeps her symptoms at bay through diet and a lower stress lifestyle. Another woman maps her moods.
Fry also takes us through one of his rather manic moods where he shops with a therapist along to rein him in. Then he meets with a young lady whose depression and its effects are making her feel suicidal.
While some portions of this documentary are difficult to watch, it is a well done, in-depth look at the illness and its treatments.