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Modern Love Tackles Dating With Bipolar Disorder

How accurate is anne hathaway’s modern love episode about dating with bipolar disorder, more from wellness, r29 original series.

Terri Cheney

Bipolar Love, Anne Hathaway, and Me

Finally, a new tv series nails bipolar disorder..

Posted  October 10, 2019

Right now my mood is a shiny mylar balloon on a string, bobbing up in the clouds. On October 18th a new TV series called “Modern Love” begins streaming on Amazon, and I wrote the essay on which the third episode is based. It features Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway playing Lexi, a character based on me—yes, me!—as I go through the travails of dating while bipolar. I was able to watch an advance screener, and it’s wonderful.

I have to admit, I was worried—I think I watched the entire half-hour holding my breath. I’ve never yet been able to observe the depiction of bipolar disorder in movies or on TV without wanting to get up and yell at the screen to “Get it right!” But this episode felt very real to me, no doubt because it’s based on my life but also because the actors and the director and the producers took such pains to be accurate. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell you that mania is treated like a mini-musical: Anne Hathaway sings and dances her way through it, which is so appropriate because mania is indeed like an exuberant Broadway production, all glitz and sparkle and spotlights.

But I expected the manic parts to be entertaining. Surprisingly, it’s in the portrayal of depression that the show really shines. Depression is extremely hard to write about, probably even harder to play, because it’s so damned internal. But when I watched Anne crumple to the floor in tears, terrified she’ll never find love in her lifetime, I felt something I haven’t felt in years: the freshness of my grief about having this illness.

I’ve been bipolar for so long, and have written about it so much, that I don’t often find myself shaking my fist at the sky, asking “Why me?” anymore. Now that my illness is relatively well-managed by medication , it’s just a part of my life—a really big part—but I don’t ask those really big questions these days. This episode made me remember when I did. It brought me back to a time when, despite considerable professional success as an entertainment lawyer, the position I seemed to hold down best in the world was the fetal position. Curled up in my bed, oblivious to the ever-ringing phone, I was consumed by such despair I could barely move for the sheer weight of it.

I often wondered what I had done to merit such punishment , because it had to be punishment; it was cruel and unusual and seemed to single me out. No one else I knew surfed such extremes of emotion—riding the crest of the wave one day, sucked under the next. Sure, I wanted love as much as any girl did, but it seemed to me that romance and marriage and all that jazz were reserved for people who could show up consistently for the challenge. Whereas I never knew which “me” I’d wake up with: the siren who could seduce you with a come-hither quirk of her eyebrow, or the shlep who could barely mumble two words in succession.

Nor did it feel possible just to come clean and explain what was going on with me. I’d guarded the truth of my shape-shifting moods so closely for so much of my life, it was second nature to lie, to evade, to imposture. I was a secrecy junkie; I craved concealment. The more I fooled the world, the safer it felt to me—although that kept me at arms’ length from any true intimacy , because nothing reveals you like love.

When I watched Anne break down, it all came back to me: how violent my own crying jags could be, racking my body with pain. I’d sob myself to sleep, praying I’d never wake up again. But I did. I always did. And sometimes the anguish would still be there, and I’d know that would be yet another wasted day, spent hiding out from obligation. But sometimes I couldn’t even remember what I was sobbing about, and only my puffy eyes in the mirror would remind me that I’d been depressed at all. Those days were all about damage control, frenetically making up for lost time and productivity , tricking everyone into thinking I was still the star of my own spectacular show.

To see that volatility so painstakingly reflected on the screen was a life-changing experience. It flooded me with compassion—not just for myself, but for everyone who fights this disease, day after chaotic day. We are so courageous, those of us consigned to struggle not just with the trials of the everyday world, but with the vicissitudes of our own minds. In a post-show interview, Anne said she was “wrecked” by the filming, and I can believe it. It’s not easy to inhabit a mental illness, even for a short time. It takes a tensile strength most people don’t ever have to summon, and perhaps can’t even imagine.

That’s why I’m so pleased about this episode. Although some of the secrecy surrounding bipolar disorder is beginning to lift as more and more people come out of the closet, it’s still a very mysterious illness, subject to great shame and stigma. But countless studies have shown that nothing fights stigma more effectively than putting a familiar face on an unfamiliar disease; and if that face can be one that the whole world knows, the better for all of us.

Terri Cheney

Terri Cheney is the author of Manic: A Memoir and The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar .

modern love essay bipolar

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Men have long been silent and stoic about their inner lives, but there’s every reason for them to open up emotionally—and their partners are helping.

modern love essay bipolar

7 'Modern Love' Essays From The Book To Read Before The Show Premieres

modern love essay bipolar

As a self-professed mega-fan of rom-com novels and films, I was thrilled when Amazon announced their upcoming Modern Love TV series , based on the long-running New York Times Modern Love column . Premiering on Oct. 18, the series boasts a star-studded cast (Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, Dev Patel and Andrew Scott are just four of the show's featured actors) and will feature eight anthology-style episodes about love in all of its many forms — romantic, familial, platonic, sexual, and for oneself. Whether you're a long-time reader of Modern Love or are just discovering the column, now is the perfect time to catch up on some of the greatest essays before the show premieres.

In the revised and updated version of the Modern Love book (first published in 2007) editor Daniel Jones compiled 42 of the columns best essays. In his introduction to the book, Jones writes:

"I suppose if we are going to try to define what a love story is, we should begin by defining what love is, but that can be even more slippery. Our definitions of love, too, tend toward the flowery treatment. From where I sit, however -- as someone who has read, skimmed, or otherwise digested some one hundred thousand love stories over the past fifteen years -- love, at its best, is more of a wheelbarrow than a rose: gritty, and messy but also durable. Yet still hard to put into words."

'Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss and Redemption' Edited by Daniel Jones

Below are seven of my favorite of the 42 essays that appear in the Modern Love book, a great refresher for seasoned readers and a perfect precursor to the series for new fans, too:

'You Might Want to Marry My Husband' by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

In this March 2017 column (published just 10 days before she died of ovarian cancer at age 51) author Amy Krouse Rosenthal wrote a moving letter to her husband, Jason Rosenthal, in the hopes of finding him a new partner:

"Here is the kind of man Jason is: He showed up at our first pregnancy ultrasound with flowers. This is a man, who, because he is always up early, surprises me every Sunday morning by making some kind of oddball smiley face out of items near the coffee pot: a spoon, a mug, a banana. This is a main who emerges from the minimart or gas station and says, 'Give me your palm.' And voila, a colorful gum ball appears. (He knows I love all the flavors but white.) My guess is you know enough about him now. So let's swipe right."

Read "You Might Want To Marry My Husband."

'The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap' by Eve Pell

Although Eve Pell's Jan. 2013 essay has not been officially confirmed as part of the Modern Love series, clues from the trailer highly suggest its inclusion. In it, Pell wrote of her late-in-life marriage to a Japanese American widower named Sam:

"Old love is different. In our 70s and 80s, we had been through enough of life’s ups and downs to know who we were, and we had learned to compromise. We knew something about death because we had seen loved ones die. The finish line was drawing closer. Why not have one last blossoming of the heart?"

Read "The Race Grows Sweeter In Its Final Lap."

'When Eve and Eve Bit the Apple' by Kristen Scharold

In this Nov. 2016 essay, writer Kristen Scharold wrote about coming out as queer and leaving her Evangelical church when she meets and falls in love with a woman named Jess:

"I felt my cramped religious framework of false dichotomies and moral starkness beginning to collapse. What once seemed like a bleak choice between losing my soul or losing my most cherished friend was in fact a lesson that true love is the only thing that could save me."

Read "When Eve and Eve Bit The Apple."

'When the Doorman is Your Main Man' by Julie Margaret Hogben

Hogben's Oct. 2015 essay (also seemingly included in the Modern Love series trailer) focused on the unique friendship she shares with her doorman, Guzim, and how his support helped her embark on the journey of single motherhood with courage:

"I became fodder for gossip: Who was the father? Did I dump him, or did he dump me? Valid questions, sometimes asked to my face, sometimes not. But down in the lobby, Guzim was there with no dog in the race. I wasn’t his daughter, sister or ex. I wasn’t his employee or boss. Our social circles didn’t overlap. Six days a week, he stood downstairs, detached but also caring enough to be the perfect friend, neither worried nor pitying."

Read "When The Doorman Is Your Main Man."

'Rallying to Keep the Game Alive' by Ann Leary

Leary's Sept. 2013 essay about the almost-end and subsequent reunification of her marriage to actor Denis Leary is a moving look at a modern marriage (and another essay that, though currently unconfirmed, also seems to be included in the Modern Love trailer.) She wrote:

"When we met, I was 20, he 25. We were too young and inexperienced to know that people don’t change who they are, only how they play and work with others. Our basic problem was, and is, that we are almost identical — in looks, attitudes and psychological makeup. Two Leos who love children and animals, and are intensely emotional and highly sensitive and competitive with everybody, but especially with each other."

Read "Rallying To Keep The Game Alive."

'Now I Need a Place to Hide Away' by Ann Hood

In her Feb. 2017 column, author Ann Hood wrote about The Beatles fandom she shared with her young daughter, Grace, who died suddenly of complications from a virulent form of strep when she was just five years old:

"It is difficult to hide from the Beatles. After all these years they are still regularly in the news. Their songs play on oldies stations, countdowns and best-ofs. There is always some Beatles anniversary: the first No. 1 song, the first time in the United States, a birthday, an anniversary, a milestone, a Broadway show. But hide from the Beatles I must. Or, in some cases, escape."

Read "Now I Need A Place To Hide Away."

'Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am' by Terri Cheney

Terri Cheney's Jan. 2008 essay, which has been confirmed as the inspiration behind the episode of the Modern Love series starring Anne Hathaway, is about the author's experience with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder and how it affected her dating life. Cheney wrote:

"In love there’s no hiding: You have to let someone know who you are, but I didn’t have a clue who I was from one moment to the next. When dating me, you might go to bed with Madame Bovary and wake up with Hester Prynne. Worst of all, my manic, charming self was constantly putting me into situations that my down self couldn’t handle."

Read "Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am."

This article was originally published on Sep. 12, 2019

modern love essay bipolar


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Daniel Jones

By Daniel Jones and Miya Lee

modern love essay bipolar

Although Modern Love has evolved over the years into a podcast , a book , a TV show and Tiny Love Stories , the column’s central mission remains the same: to publish honest personal essays about contemporary relationships.

We seek true stories on finding love , losing love and trying to keep love alive . We welcome essays that explore subjects such as adoption , polyamory , technology , race and friendship — anything that could reasonably fit under the heading “Modern Love.” Ideally, essays should spring from some central dilemma you have faced. It is helpful, but not essential, for the situation to reflect what is happening in the world now.

The best way to see the range of styles and subjects we publish is to read the column and listen to the podcast . There’s a Google doc of tips from the editor that someone culled from the Modern Love Facebook page (some details are out of date, but nearly all of the advice is still generally applicable).

Love may be universal, but individual experiences can differ immensely and be informed by factors including race, socio-economic status, gender, disability status, nationality, sexuality, age, religion and culture. We especially encourage Black and Indigenous people and other people of color to submit, as well as writers outside of the United States and those who identify as members of L.G.B.T.Q communities.

How do I submit?

Send submissions to: [email protected] . Please put the subject of your essay or a possible title in the email subject line.

Limit your essay to 1,500-1,700 words.

Attach your essay as a Microsoft Word-compatible doc and paste the text into the body of the email. If your first submission is incomplete, please resubmit one complete entry; do not submit just the missing pieces in additional emails.

Essays must be entirely true. Do not use pseudonyms (including for yourself), composite characters or invented situations or scenes. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Essays must be previously unpublished. Work that has appeared online — on another news website, a personal blog, Medium or elsewhere — is considered previously published.

Essays will be edited in consultation with writers, and writers will be compensated for work that is published.

We attempt to respond to every submission within three or four months, though response times may vary because of the high volume of submissions. There is no need to follow up.

PLEASE NOTE: Modern Love has two submission periods, September through December and March through June. We do not accept submissions in July, August, January or February. Submissions made during those months will be deleted unread. Please submit again when the inbox reopens.

Want more from Modern Love? Watch the TV series ; sign up for the newsletter ; or listen to the podcast on iTunes , Spotify or Google Play . We also have swag at the NYT Store and a book, “ Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption .” You can also follow Modern Love on Facebook and the column editor, Daniel Jones , and projects assistant, Miya Lee , on Twitter.

[email protected]

Modern Love: A Portrayal of Bipolar Disorder

October 30, 2019  /  Center for Reintegration

Have you seen the new Amazon Prime series Modern Love? If you are able to, check it out! It is based off of essays from the wonderful NY Times column with the same title.


Most interestingly, episode three stars Anne Hathaway as a woman who is living with bipolar disorder. Lexi, who was diagnosed with the illness when she was in high school, struggles with dating, work, and at times just existing in society. Although some reviews found that Hathaway “over-acted” this was a poignant and very real depiction of what living with this illness is like.

My favorite part was how the episode ended. After being let go from her new job (for being unreliable, is what I can guess), Lexi finally reveals to a former coworker/supervisor that she has bipolar disorder. The catharsis she seemed to feel once her diagnosis is out there is contagious. She calls old coworkers, boyfriends, and friends to explain why she may have behaved unpredictably in the past, and the level of understanding she received was very positive, and very hopeful. In the end Lexi was stable, on proper medication, and ready to begin a new chapter of dating in her life. What stood out to me was the point that isolation is not the answer. Having bipolar disorder is not something to be ashamed of, it is a piece of a person to be shared as they see fit within the bounds of their own comfort level, but it should never be something to feel shame over.

I have one critique of the episode. When she explained her diagnosis, she said “I’m bipolar” instead of “I have bipolar disorder.” Each person is so much more than any diagnosis they have, and it seems that mental health conditions take over a person’s entire persona when phrased this way. Lexi is also a successful lawyer, a daughter, a redhead, and more (outside of what the episode can include). A diagnosis is a part of us, but it does not define us!

It is always refreshing to see real yet inspiring, relatable, and positive portrayals of individuals living with mental illness, and we will continue to highlight those here. Please check out the episode and let us know what you think in the comments below!


You can check out the episode HERE , and if you would like to read the real author’s essay, you can click HERE.

Written by Bevin Reilly

Treatment, Symptoms, and Prevention of Bipolar Disorder Essay


Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that is manifested by drastic mood changes — bipolar manifests in two main extremes, namely depression, and mania (Peacock, 2000). Depression manifests when an individual feels tired and sad. On the other hand, mania manifests when an individual experiences periods of extreme excitement and restlessness. Symptoms of bipolar depend on the extreme that individual experiences at a certain period.

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In many cases, an individual is diagnosed with clinical depression and later with bipolar. During an episode of depression, individuals experience feelings that include hopelessness, extreme sadness, worthlessness, lethargy, and irritability (Peacock, 2000). In severe cases, an individual might contemplate suicide. On the other hand, episodes of mania are characterized by feelings of happiness, joy, irritability, and extreme creativity.

Prevalence and incidence

According to the World Health Organization, more than 10 million individuals have bipolar in the United States (Peacock, 2000). The disorder is a leading cause of disability in the world. It has a lifetime prevalence of approximately 3% around the globe. Statistics have revealed that more than 0.8% of the American population experiences at least a manic episode at one time in their life.

On the other hand, 0.5% of the population experiences a hypomanic episode. 6.4% of the American population has been shown to have bipolar spectrum disorder (Peacock, 2000). Studies have revealed that the incidence of bipolar disorder among men and women is the same. The incidence rate is similar across people of different origins and ethnic backgrounds.

However, its severity varies across the world. In the U.S., the rate of incidence is higher among African Americans than among Americans of European descent (Peacock, 2000). The disorder affects people mainly in their adolescence and early adulthood years. In many cases, individuals with experienced bipolar episodes of mania after the age of fifty.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on the mood that an individual experiences at a certain period. Individuals experience extreme mood changes that affect their behaviors and thinking patterns. Mania is characterized by over-excitement, while depression is characterized by extreme sadness.

During episodes of depression, individuals experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed, such as sex and social interaction (Fink & Kraynak, 2012). Their thinking is predominantly negative, and they rarely see the positive aspects of their lives. Their behavior also changes. They are restless, irritable, indecisive, and insomniac. Moreover, they experience problems with concentration and memory (Peacock, 2000).

Symptoms of mania

Symptoms of mania include hyperactivity, high quantities of energy, extreme irritability, impulsive behavior, restlessness, risk-taking, extreme happiness, and excitement, as well as unrealistic belief in personal capabilities (Fink & Kraynak, 2012).

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania that is characterized by moderate productivity and happiness. In other cases, both episodes of depression and mania might manifest at the same time. During such episodes, individuals become insomniac, agitated, and may harbor sundial thoughts (Fink & Kraynak, 2012).

Treatment of bipolar disorder includes us of both medication and therapy (Miklowitz, 2011). Bipolar is a disorder that affects individuals for the rest of their lives. Therefore, combining medication with therapy lowers the prevalence of the various mood changes associated with the disorder (Fink & Kraynak, 2012).

The recurrence of a maniac and depressive episodes makes life difficult for victims. Successful treatment of bipolar disorder involves the use of different treatment remedies. According to studies, medication alone is not enough to treat bipolar disorder effectively. One of the most important aspects of bipolar treatment is education and awareness about causes and ways of management.

Victims should read extensively about the disorder, join support groups, and make lifestyle changes that enable them to manage their symptoms (Ketter, 2007). The most common treatment methods for bipolar include medication, psychotherapy, education, lifestyle changes, and support. Drugs such as mood stabilizers aid in the minimization of symptoms. The most common and most effective mood stabilizer used to treat bipolar is lithium (Ketter, 2007).

Antidepressants such as Prozac and Amitriptyline are also used. Antipsychotic medications include Ariplazole, Quetiapine, Risperidone, and Clozapine (Ketter, 2007). Other drugs used together with mood stabilizers include Lamictal, Symbax, Zyprexa, and Seroquel. Psychotherapy teaches individuals different ways of coping with difficult times and different mood changes (Fink & Kraynak, 2012). Types of therapy available to individuals include cognitive-behavioral therapy and family-focused therapy (Ketter, 2007).

Education involves understanding the various symptoms of bipolar and their management. Finally, support involves interacting with individuals with the disorder for moral, emotional, and psychological support. Support groups facilitate the sharing of experiences that could be helpful to other individuals with similar challenges (Ketter, 2007). Complementary treatments include acupuncture, deep meditation, as well as light and dark therapy.

Prevention of a bipolar disorder

To prevent bipolar disorder, it is important to learn about it to control mood changes and other symptoms. It is also important to practice lifestyle management. Lifestyle management involves changes such as alcohol avoidance, practicing meditation, physical exercise, and thinking positively (Miklowitz, 2011).

Prevention of bipolar disorder mainly focuses on stress reduction. High levels of stress increase the risk of developing bipolar for genetically susceptible individuals. Stress reduction can be achieved through regular physical exercise and participating in relaxation methods such as meditation and yoga (Ketter, 2007).

Risk factors

Bipolar disorder’s risk factors include genetics, lifestyle, alcohol and drug abuse, high-stress levels, environment, and major life changes. Research has revealed that bipolar disorder has a basis in the genes of individuals. Therefore, the risk is very high for individuals who come from families with a history of the disorder. Research has shown that children from families in which one or both the parents have the disorder have a high risk of developing the disorder (Fink & Kraynak, 2012).

Major life changes such loss of a loved one, sexual abuse, or traumatic events such as accidents increase the risk of developing the disorder. Individuals who undergo prolonged periods of stress are also at high risk of developing the disorder (Fink & Kraynak, 2012). Medical practitioners recommend physical exercise and meditation as two of the most effective methods of reducing stress. Alcohol and drug abuse also increase the risk of developing the disorder.

Environment plays a critical role in the development o bipolar disorder. For instance, children who grow in abusive and violent families have a very high risk of developing bipolar (Miklowitz, 2011). Stressful environments play a key role in triggering depressive episodes that herald the development of bipolar.

Diagnosis is carried out through evaluation by a medical professional following diagnosis guidelines as provided in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorder (DSM) (Fink & Kraynak, 2012). Successful diagnosis is mainly based on the observation of major changes in mood patterns and behavior. After a successful diagnosis, a patient is given medication based on past medical history and the severity of the condition.

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that is characterized by extreme mood changes that range from mania to depression. Risk factors include lifestyle, genetics, environment, drug and alcohol abuse, and major life changes such as death or abuse. Symptoms depend on the type of mod. Symptoms observed during the mania phase include hyperactivity, risk-taking, restlessness, and unrealistic belief in one’s capabilities.

During the depression phase, symptoms include insomnia, poor concentration, lack of appetite, loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable, and feelings of hopelessness as well as helplessness. In severe cases, individuals contemplate suicide. Effective treatment involves the use of both drugs and psychotherapy. Drugs used include mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and psychotic medication.

Forms of therapy applied to include cognitive-behavioral therapy, family-centered therapy, as well as interpersonal and social rhythm therapy. Prevention involves participation in physical exercise and stress reduction activities such as meditation and yoga. According to the World Health Organization, more than 10 million individuals have bipolar in the United States.

On the other hand, 3% of the world’s population suffers from the disorder. Research has revealed that bipolar disorder has a basis in the genes of individuals. Therefore, the risk is very high for individuals who come from families with a history of the disorder. Research has shown that children from families in which one or both the parents have the disorder have a high risk of developing the disorder.

Fink, C., & Kraynak, J. (2012). Bipolar Disorder for Dummies . New York: John Wiley & sons.

Ketter, T. (2007). Advances in Treatment of Bipolar Disorder . New York: American Psychiatric Publishers.

Miklowitz, D. J. (2011). The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide, Second Edition: What You and your Family Need to Know . New York: Gilford Press.

Peacock, J. (2000). Bipolar Disorder . New York: Capstone.

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10 Moments Modern Love Accurately Represented my Bipolar

Bipolar uk ambassador april kelley reflects on episode three of amazon’s modern love: ‘take me as i am, whoever i am’.

So, who’s heard of the Amazon Prime series Modern Love ? Each episode brings to life a different story that has been inspired by the New York Times’ popular column of the same name.

In episode three, Anne Hathaway stars as Lexi, a woman navigating life and the dating world whilst living with bipolar disorder. Little did I know that this episode, in its compact, thoughtful way, would change my life. With that in mind, go and watch it before you continue reading.

For the first time ever , I had something I could put in front of my loved ones and say, “This is it! This is what it does to me. This is what you don’t see when the door closes behind me.” And this was the gem that would truly get through to people.

However, I was terrified to watch it – in case they got it wrong.

I sat on the sofa with my dear friend and we hit play. I instantly started biting the skin around my nails and shaking my right leg. Over the next 30 minutes, I chuckled at the moments of pure joy that the character Lexi was experiencing, in her intoxicating way, shaking my head exclaiming, “That’s what I do!!” and “Am I that annoying when I’m high?” – a timid ‘yes’ was what I got in response.

I cringed with my head in my hands at moments which I only knew to be true in my head. I struggled to watch them being plastered across the screen, for everyone to witness. I had been exposed.

Then I sobbed. I sobbed uncontrollably. Yes, it was sad. Of that there was no denying. For me, it was a combination of seeing how the ‘possession’ takes over and how the mist descends – watching the character’s nuances of what I would believe to be one of Anne Hathaway’s greatest performances to date.

She was behaving the way I do: her excuses were my excuses; her internal thoughts were my thoughts; her tears were my tears. Her attempt to reach out and the release that she experienced made me exhale in the same way.

These quotes listed below are somewhat out of context but, if you know, you know . And I hope some of you will read them with a little nod and knowing smile.

Lexi: “This is where the problems start, I don’t know what kicks it off. Blood sugar, chemical, psychological, who knows. But it comes. Like a monster from an old black and white movie walking and no matter how fast you run, he keeps up with you. And there’s only one place he can’t find you.”

I wanted to start with my favourite quote from the episode. The anguish of trying to understand what happens, combined with the superb imagery is a good place to start for anyone with a loved one living with bipolar – if only to understand just a smidge more of how it feels.

It's ok not to be ok. Just never forget that you are loved, and help is there if you need it. pic.twitter.com/a1YaICfXUd — Modern Love (@modernlovetv) November 3, 2019

Jeff: “So, what do you want to eat?”

Lexi: “Muesli.”

Jeff: “That might be hard right now…”

Lexi: “I know a place, c’mon.”

It’s Lexi’s and Jeff’s official date… They’re going out for dinner.

Strangely, this was probably the scene that I could relate to the least. I did not find it particularly believable, as I don’t think I would ever go out (especially on a date) if I was feeling that low.

That said, when my business partner, Sara, had watched it, she called me immediately. She began to laugh and tell me that the “muesli” line was funny. When I asked why, she went on to remind me of a time a couple of years ago when I was going through a low period and all I’d eat would be spoonsful of dried oats… from the bag.

modern love essay bipolar

Lexi: “I could make up for it with intense bouts of productivity.”

I mean… am I right? This is how I winged it at school.

Lexi: “Can I see you tonight? Do you want to have dinner? Go to a movie? Go to a club? I don’t know, I just want to see you.”

Jeff: “Ah, tonight’s kind of tricky. Um, how about Tuesday?”

Lexi: “Tuesday? Tuesday’s a lifetime away. Who knows if we’ll make it to Tuesday?”

Jeff: “It’s tomorrow. I think we have a good chance.”

This pretty much sums up my love life (my life in general, in fact). My enthusiasm levels whilst in the height of hyper-mania can be mistaken for undying love, declared overnight. It is triggering, in the best possible way, when meeting a new person who I click with. It feels like my head is finally on day release from prison and I want to make the most of every second!

I always try to have something to look forward to, so I’m always planning, planning, planning. Earlier on in the episode Lexi so wonderfully states that: “Life is just too interesting to sleep sometimes; do you know what I mean?”

Yes, I do, I’m like a puppy!

modern love essay bipolar

Lexi: “I’ve got to clean the bipolar out of this place.”

So simple, so obvious, so wildly accurate. I live by myself, always have, and this was largely down to the fact that if and whenever I had an episode, my parents could come and get me straight away without either burdening housemates or embarrassing me. When in an episode, I do not notice the dismay my flat falls into until that perfect morning comes along and I begin to frantically clean.

Lexi: “Would he have stayed, Jeff, if he had known? If I came clean that time in the supermarket and said, ‘Oh by the way, I’m bipolar. I’m dealing with it. Will you?’”

One day I wish to have this courage…

Lexi: “How would he deal with a damaged psyche? Please come back, don’t come back, please come back, don’t come back… Please come back.”

Whenever I get too close to someone, panic sets in. My two biggest fears when being in a relationship, be it dating, friendship or colleagues would be for someone to: a) think that I’m hard work, and b) think that I am too keen.

Silly really, when I read it in black and white. But that panic sets in and I either overcompensate with affection or distance myself – I know that ‘please come back, don’t come back’ thought cycle.

Lexi: “Something told me this had to stop. Not the illness, that’ll never stop. But, not giving people a chance to make up their own mind about me. To give them at least some cards in the game. Surely, there’s someone out there who will take me for who I am.”

When do you tell someone that you’re dating about being bipolar? I’m genuinely asking because I have no idea. Most recently, becoming an ambassador for Bipolar UK was my push to tell someone… It might have been a bit weird for that information to come out publicly and then for me to be like, “Ta-daa, I’m crazy!”

Giving away some of the cards which you hold so close to your chest and allowing someone to make up their own mind is utterly terrifying, for all the obvious reasons. But, if they do take the news badly (for lack of a better phrase), ultimately, they could never be the person for you. And that realisation would, in itself, be heartbreaking.

modern love essay bipolar

Sylvia: “Your supermarket boy? How’s that going, by the way?”

Lexi: “Oh, uh, that didn’t take.”

Sylvia: “Oh, I’m sorry.”

Lexi: “Yeah.”

Sylvia: “You really get through them, don’t you?”

Lexi: “I guess it looks like that.”

I always say that I'll be the love of your life for three weeks and, if we get past that, then we’re both in trouble. It’s bad enough being bisexual. It’s hard enough to find someone in this app-fuelled, disconnected, modern society as it is. And for me personally, when things get scary, too close (or too distant), my instinct is to run and hide.

But, alas, the excitement of connecting with a new person happens and then the vicious cycle begins again. Albeit, less so for me now, as I’m learning. I’m learning to not cut and run, I’m learning that relationships in any shape or form aren’t the same, so as much as I’m desperate to follow the ‘colour by numbers’ of other relationships, I now know that isn’t possible. Instead, I just ask myself ‘am I happy?’ – if I am, then why fix what isn’t broken?

And finally, the last scene, when Lexi finally opens up so Sylvia:

Sylvia: “So, why are you telling me now?”

Lexi: “Because you’re more than work. And you should know what you’re dealing with if we’re gonna see each other outside of the office. Which I would like. But I have incredibly low periods. So low that I can barely move. I am impossible to be around. I can barely answer the phone. I’m totally unreliable as a friend, in fact, in some ways I’m the worst friend you could ever have, I don’t check a single box.”

View this post on Instagram It's amazing what trusting one friend can do. A post shared by Modern Love (@modernlovetv) on Nov 13, 2019 at 9:42am PST

Lexi: “You’re the first person I’ve ever told about this.”

Sylvia: “How does it feel, telling me?”

Lexi: “Like an elephant’s taken one of its feet off my chest.”

Sylvia: “I’m so glad you’ve told me. It explains so much. If anything, not knowing made it a little difficult to connect with you fully, the way I would have wanted.”

Lexi: “You want to get a drink sometime? You want to go to the movies? You want to see people?”

Sylvia: “All of the above. You are the most fun I’ve ever been around. I’m not letting that go.”

Lexi: “Thank you.”

Sylvia: “Thank you .”

Reading this quote always brings a tear to my eye – beautiful, simple writing elevated by the sincerest of performances from Anne Hathaway and Quincy Tyler Bernstine. Never have I been able to put it better to my loved ones.

The one quote I’ll take from it is, “you are the most fun I’ve ever been around. I’m not letting that go.” And after reading this, I too want you to take this away with you.

That’s the double edge sword which is bipolar. I only ever notice the depression, the embarrassing moments, the poor judgement. I never realise that I might be somebody who someone would want to hold onto. But, believe it or not folks, we are, and I’ll keep reminding you, if you keep reminding me.

Thank you to Terri Cheney whose New York Times essay this episode was based on – you have now become a role model to me. Thank you to John Carney, Anne Hathaway and the rest of the creative team for handling this topic in such a delicate way.

Finally, thank you to my loved ones, to all of you who have taken time to watch the episode, to talk and to ask me questions. For making an effort to understand and for loving me anyway; regardless of being too distant or too affectionate and definitely hard work. You allow me to have the most fun with you all.

If you or a loved one are affected by bipolar, visit Counselling Directory for information and support, including how CBT or family therapy could help.

Image credits: Amazon. Modern Love season one is available on Amazon Prime Video.

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The first time i saw myself on screen as a woman with bipolar disorder.

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Editor's Note

If you’re looking for creative inspiration, check out the Daily Inspirations group on The Mighty.

Mental health as subject matter has clawed its way onto script pages and silver screens in recent years. But accurate portrayals of mental illness are still few and far between. The struggles of addiction have been seen in recent movies such as “Beautiful Boy” and TV series like “Euphoria.” In terms of visibility, anxiety and depression have been pushed into world consciousness through raw social media discussions and overall mental health awareness campaigns. And yet, as a 25-year-old woman with bipolar disorder , I didn’t see myself reflected in these conversations or on these screens. Until “ Modern Love .”

Episode 3 of “Modern Love,” a collection of New York-based atypical love stories, is called “Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am” and immerses the viewer in the life of a bipolar woman named Lexi. Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Lexi is both subtle and extravagant — the perfect example of the complexities of bipolar disorder . It opens with Lexi leading a dance number through the streets of New York on her way to the grocery store, aiming to encapsulate her mania . While at the grocery store, she meets a cute guy while picking out peaches, and in her euphoric state, she immediately gets coffee with him and plans a future dinner date. But by the time she returns home, her airy and elevated state of mania is slowly slipping away and being replaced by the heaviness of a depressive episode, leading her to miss out on her dinner date. The episode continues to show how expertly she hides her bipolar disorder from everyone around her, while simultaneously showing the detrimental effect it is having on her dating life, her career and everything in between. And for the first time ever, I saw myself — fully — on that screen.

Halfway through the episode, and my tears were already flowing. Because Lexi was me, and I was Lexi. It was breathtaking in the most literal sense. I was stunned into stillness, not daring to move too abruptly in fear of being taken out of this self-identifying moment. Having such a well-known actress like Anne Hathaway play a bipolar woman was oddly jarring. Because in such a familiar actress, I saw my disorder. And the juxtaposition of that was… cathartic. I could be brilliant, and beautiful, and intelligent, and creative — and bipolar .

As Anne Hathaway told Glamour , “I have people in my life who I love so deeply who have received various mental health diagnoses, and that’s not the whole story of who they are.” She also told Glamour, “I’ve seen people like Lexi, I have people in my life like Lexi, and I love people like Lexi.” And I believe that this helped her portray the character of Lexi with such subtle and empathetic complexity. I saw my own personal manic and depressive episodes reflected in Lexi. But I also saw the external view of a bipolar woman and the ways in which everyday people viewed her, with both delightful awe and concerned confusion. This was extremely foreign to me — and I am utterly grateful that this show allowed me to see these honest outside perspectives, because it showed me that there is more care and understanding in other people than I ever gave them credit for. This is emphasized in the last scenes of the episode.

The ending of the episode imprinted in me so heavily that it quite literally changed how I live my life as a bipolar woman. In one of the final scenes, Lexi finally opens up to a coworker about her condition, and ends up feeling a sense of relief and freedom. Her coworker asks her, “How does it feel telling me?” to which Lexi responds, “Like an elephant has taken one of its feet off my chest.”

I have never in my life heard a more accurate representation of the heaviness of such a hidden disorder . That description left me feeling more understood than ever before. And as Hathaway told Glamour, “We all walk around sometimes feeling like we have an elephant on our chest, but we’re not alone. And we’re not less than because of that. We’re not unlovable because of that.” So here’s to all of us walking around with the weight of an elephant — and to living a life that allows even just one foot to be lifted off our chest.

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As a young bipolar woman, I am learning to include my disorder in my identity, without centering around it. I love sharing my stories in an effort to help others better understand mental illness, and in turn, it often helps me better understand myself.


Finding Love Among the Highs and Lows of Ultradian Bipolar Disorder

“As soon as Lexi reaches home, she abruptly sinks into depression and curls up in a fetal position, almost catatonic in her bed.”

heart, puzzle, piece


modern love essay bipolar


When Amazon Prime decided to base a television series on selected stories from the “Modern Love” column of The New York Times, I was excited. I had been an avid reader of the column, in which individuals reflect on the intricate nature of human relationships. The episode that struck me most was “Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am,” based on the essay written by Terri Cheney in 2008 . 1 Then an entertainment lawyer, Terri wrote about her struggles with ultradian bipolar disorder, revealing how she hid her condition from her friends before ultimately going public.

In the series, Terri is played by Anne Hathaway. The Oscar-winning actress takes the viewer through the roller coaster of bipolar highs and lows. The episode begins with Lexi (Hathaway) during a manic high at a supermarket. She sports loud makeup, sequins, and bright clothes. She is instantly drawn to a man named Jeff and lands herself a date with him that week. The action segues into a flash-mob dance reminiscent of a scene in the movie La La Land .

As might be expected, the high does not last. As soon as Lexi reaches home, she abruptly sinks into depression and curls up in a fetal position, almost catatonic in her bed. While she does manage to wake herself up for the date, she appears slow, dysphoric, withdrawn, and unkempt, making Jeff wonder if she has a twin.

A few mornings later, Lexi wakes up—euphoric again—to the sound of birds chirping, and she calls Jeff for another date. However, by the time he arrives that night, she has flipped again, going from dancing around her apartment to sobbing uncontrollably on the bathroom floor. When Jeff walks away, she decides things need to change. She needs to give everyone a chance to know the real Lexi.

The episode illustrated how stigma often prevents individuals from getting the psychiatric help they need. Particularly unusual was the portrayal of a high-functioning lawyer with ultra-ultra rapid cycling (ultradian) bipolar disorder, an uncommon illness for even psychiatrists to see and diagnose. Lexi had almost no baseline or a euthymic phase.

As a portrayal of bipolar disorder, the episode has both strong and weak points. Hathaway’s portrayal of Lexi’s depression makes you feel empathetic. Crumpled on her bathroom floor in tears, hopeless and terrified, Lexi is a realistic portrayal of many patients’ experiences. Lexi’s mania, however, looks as glamorous as a Hollywood movie. She is super-productive and euphoric, with no impairment or mixed symptoms. Unfortunately, many patients will not be able to relate.

Pluses and minuses aside, it is heartening to think that viewers will see and empathize with Lexi’s struggles. Ultradian bipolar disorder can be difficult to recognize, even for psychiatrists, and it can be a controversial diagnosis to make . 2 While 12% to 24% of patients with bipolar disorder experience rapid cycling (defined as 4 or more mood episodes in a year), the ultradian form is characterized by multiple episodes in a day. Some psychiatrists would prefer to classify it as a mixed state. Ultradian might also be mistaken for borderline personality disorder (BPD), but there are ways to distinguish them. For instance, mood cycling in BPD is closely tied to events in patients’ emotional lives, so it may appear random. In contrast, the underlying chemical disturbance in ultradian bipolar disorder leads to more regular mood cycling.

Despite its rarity, ultradian has been on psychiatrists’ radar for decades, and good treatment options are available. Robert M. Post, MD, and colleagues first described ultradian in the 1980s . 3 Anticonvulsants like valproic acid and carbamazepine may be more effective for treatment than lithium. It is also important to reduce triggering factors like antidepressants, drugs of abuse, thyroid abnormalities, and irregular sleep schedules. There have been promising results with calcium channel blockers like nimodipine . 4

In the episode’s final scene, Lexi finally opens up about her condition to a coworker. It is a powerful moment in which she likens the cathartic experience to an elephant lifting its foot off her chest. After a trial of several medications and electroconvulsive therapy, Lexi finds a new stability. She is ready to begin a new chapter in her life.

Cheney’s column and the episode both end with realistic hope : “I’ve finally accepted that there is no cure for the chemical imbalance in my brain, any more than there is a cure for love.” 5

An earlier version of this article was posted ahead of print on March 9, 2021, with the following title: Handling the Highs and Lows of Ultradian Bipolar Disorder—and Love . -Ed

Dr Sinha is chief resident physician of psychiatry at the University of Missouri–Columbia.

1. Jones D. Modern Love: coming out as bipolar in Modern Love and reliving it on TV. The New York Times. October 18, 2019. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/18/style/anne-hathaway-modern-love-terri-cheney.html

2. Bauer M, Beaulieu S, Dunner DL, Lafer B, Kupka R. Rapid cycling bipolar disorder—diagnostic concepts. Bipolar Disord. 2008;10(1 Pt 2):153-162. doi:10.1111/j.1399-5618.2007.00560.x

3. Kramlinger KG, Post RM. Ultra-rapid and ultradian cycling in bipolar affective illness. Br J Psychiatry. 1996;168(3):314-323. doi:10.1192/bjp.168.3.314

4. The Carlat Psychiatry Podcast. Word of the day: ultradian cycling. Carlat Publishing. July 4, 2020. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://www.thecarlatreport.com/blog/word-of-the-day-ultradian-cycling/

5. Cheney T. Modern Love: take me as I am, whoever I am. The New York Times. January 13, 2008. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/style/modern-love-take-me-as-i-am-whoever-i-am.html ❒

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modern love essay bipolar

10 Facts About Amazon's Modern Love

Escher Walcott

Amazon's anthology series Modern Love became a critical hit upon its release in the fall of 2019 and continues to be discovered and enjoyed by new viewers, as they await its second season. Based on the popular The New York Times column of the same name, the series tells tales of love in various forms through the depiction of contemporary, and sometimes unconventional, relationships.

Each standalone episode presents a unique story full of layered characters played expertly by some of today's most accomplished actors, including Oscar winner Anne Hathaway, Academy Award nominees Dev Patel and Catherine Keener, two-time Golden Globe winner Tina Fey, and Golden Globe nominee Andrew Scott. Here are some facts about the series' literary origins and its acclaimed first season.

1. The New York Times column upon which Modern Love is based on has been running since 2004.

Gary Carr, Anne Hathaway, Cristin Milioti, and Daniel Jones of Modern Love speak onstage during the Summer 2019 Television Critics Association Press Tour.

The New York Times 's "Modern Love" column came about after husband and wife writers Daniel Jones and Cathi Hanauer each wrote their own books about the challenges of balancing life, work, and family obligations. Hanauer's book, The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage , was published in 2002; in 2004, Jones wrote a companion title: The Bastard on the Couch: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and Freedom .

After The New York Times wrote a story about the couple, they received a call from Trip Gabriel, one of the paper's editors, asking if they'd be interested in working on a new column that would allow others to share their own unique "love" stories. Together, they commissioned and edited the first batch of "Modern Love" essays. However, due to her novel writing obligations, Hanauer could not commit to the project full-time, so Jones became the column's main editor, and still works in that capacity today.

2. The "Modern Love" column receives more than 9000 submissions each year.

As the popularity of the column grew, so too did the number of submissions. Stories can be submitted as either longform essays (running about 1500 words) or as a shortform "Tiny Love Story" (which runs approximately 100 words), and all recollections must be completely true with no fictional characters or names. (You can read more about how to sumit your own "Modern Love" story here .)

Jones curates a selection of essays from the thousands he receives and looks for a mix of unique and impactful stories. “The essays that stick with me are the ones that are instructive about relationships in ways I haven’t heard before," Jones told Oprah Magazine in 2019. “Finding a new voice and a new perspective is always energizing and fun.”

3. The "Modern Love" column has led to a number of book deals for its writers.

Getting published in the "Modern Love" section of The New York Times has been a springboard for many writers. Jones estimates that the column has led to approximately 50 to 60 book deals. “One of the reasons the column has a large readership in the publishing world is because we showcase the work of so many unknown writers who are telling their most important story,” Jones Jtold Literary Hub in 2019.

Significant books that were born out of "Modern Love" essays include The Thirteenth Horse Won by Ellen Graf, about marrying a stranger, and The Slippery Year: A Meditation on Happily Ever After by Melanie Gideon, about a woman rediscovering life at the age of 43.

4. Amazon’s Modern Love anthology series is based on real "Modern Love" essays.

Running at approximately 30 minutes per episode, each episode of Modern Love is a standalone story based on an essay published in the "Modern Love" column, though some of the details have been altered. Series creator John Carney—the writer/director behind Once and Sing Street —had the challenging task of selecting which of the column's many essays would be ripe for filming, which meant that they needed to be able to live off the page and resonate with viewers.

5. The original essay writers were not involved in adapting their stories for a very good reason.

Although the writers of the original essays were compensated for the use of their work and allowed to give approval of the final episodes before airing, they were not involved in the actual adaptation process—and for a very sensible reason. In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter , Carney explained that while he wanted the writers' final approval on the finished episode, he didn't want them involved in the creative process so that the series did not "get bogged down in memoir or biography."

6. Modern Love star Catherine Keener may have broken the rule when it came to keeping the original essay writers uninvolved in production.

Catherine Keener and Dev Patel in Modern Love (2019).

While Carney preferred to keep the original writers separate from the production process, Catherine Keener—who starred opposite in Dev Patel in "When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist," one of the series' most critically acclaimed installments (it earned Patel an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series)—couldn't help but break that rule in order to give the most authentic performance she could. Deborah Copaken, who wrote the essay the episode is based on but wasn't even allowed to read the script, told Salon about how she met with Keener ahead of filming.

"Catherine Keener sent me an email, using her secret email address, saying, 'I'm playing you, but I'm not allowed to tell you this, and I'm not allowed to meet with you. But how am I going to play you if I have never met you? Can you please meet for lunch?'" Copaken explained. "So, we sort of secretly met. I told Dan Jones afterwards, 'Hey, I met with Catherine Keener.' He told me, 'Wait, you're not supposed to.' I was like, 'Well, we did.' We ended up meeting for lunch at Odeon for four hours. We just sat there and chatted and chatted and chatted. And like moms with kids at the same college, we talked about that. It wasn't necessarily talking about the story itself. We were just talking about who we were in our lives."

7. New York City is its own character on Modern Love .

Each episode of Modern Love was filmed in New York City, providing the focal backdrop to each love story. This was done in homage to The New York Times column and the essayists featured who reside in the city. Much like the human characters portrayed on the show, who are tied to each other through love and other feelings, New York City and the people and places that make it so vibrant are also part of each story.

8. One episode of Modern Love handles mental illness in a uniquely creative and sensitive way.

"Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am," the third episode in the first season of Modern Love , depicts what life is like being bipolar and the effect this has on one's personal relationships. The episode—which is shown through the lens of a character named Lexi, played by Anne Hathaway, as she grapples with the disorder—received particular praise for its heartbreaking, personal approach to showcasing mental illness yet managing to finish the episode with a surprisingly uplifting ending.

9. Modern Love isn’t afraid to tackle controversial issues.

The most controversial episode of Modern Love 's first season is undoubtedly "So He Looked Like Dad, It Was Just Dinner, Right?" The episode stars Ozark 's Julia Garner as Maddy, a young woman enthralled by her much older colleague Peter, played by Boardwalk Empire 's Shea Wigham. Maddy confuses her feelings for him as romantic when, really, she is simply yearning for a father figure in her life—giving way to the age-old “Daddy Issues” complex. As a result, the episode is filled with awkward and disturbing exchanges between the pair that border on inappropriate as themes of parental replacement are explored.

10. While waiting for a second season, there’s also a Modern Love podcast you can enjoy.

In addition to books and a TV show, the "Modern Love" column launched a podcast in 2016 which can be enjoyed while waiting for the show's second season (which has already been confirmed ). The podcast is narrated by an impressive host of actors, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Issa Rae , and Brian Cox. Even so, Jones was initially surprised by the impact this medium has in retelling these stories. “It’s just a much more direct and sort of intimate experience," he told Oprah Magazine. "And that has proved to be true with the television show too.”

Home » Streaming Service » Amazon Prime » Modern Love Recap: The Good, the Bad and the Mad

Modern Love Recap: The Good, the Bad and the Mad

Modern Love Season 1, Episode 3, “Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am” is a near-perfect chapter, presenting a character dealing with bipolar in an impactful story.

This recap of Amazon Series Modern Love Season 1, Episode 3 , “Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am” contains significant spoilers. You can read the recap of the previous episode by clicking these words.

If anything, what I’d like Episode 3 to do is to give anyone with bipolar disorder the confidence to speak openly about their condition. “Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am” is a hard-hitting story about a woman called Lexi ( Anne Hathaway ) who suffers from bipolar, and the episode takes the audience through her highs and lows.

The start is entertaining but exemplifies someone who is peaking on their high. Lexi wears dazzling clothes to the supermarket to match how she feels, and the entire scene feels like  La La Land,  with dancers swooping around her. Of course, this isn’t  La La Land; the singing and dancing and the energetic narration is an indication of how she feels. Lexi feels f—ing fantastic, and she achieves so much in this positive window — even landing a handsome man named Jeff ( Gary Carr ) for a date.

Their official first date doesn’t go too well. Jeff rings Lexi from outside her house, but her high went to a deep low nights before, and she stayed in bed, consumed by darkness. She half-heartedly leaves her bed to go on the date, which is a disaster, and with Jeff not knowing the reality of Lexi’s situation, he assumes she felt obliged to go on a date.

Work is tough for Lexi too — with 50% of her days on highs, and the other 50% on lows, the HR department has already picked up on her poor attendance. Her manager likes her, which makes the situation harder.

And then the next day, Lexi is feeling high again, instantly ringing Jeff to make amends and secure that second date. She agrees for it to be at her house, and she will cook. After spending an entire day cooking and cleaning, as Jeff arrives and presses the buzzer, darkness looms around Lexi again, and she slumps to the bathroom floor unable to move. This scene was horrific to watch, as she begs her inner self not to jump into a low, talking to herself in the mirror.

There is a salient message in Episode 3, “Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am”, which comes in the form of Lexi’s manager. After getting fired, Lexi joins her manager for a coffee at a cafe. Here, Lexi breaks down and finally confides in someone — she tells her now ex-manager that she had bipolar disorder, and describes how the highs and lows impact her life.

This is a hard-hitting scene, as Lexi is reaching an end to one of her lows to show real sadness. Lexi realizes at this moment that giving people the chance to know her truly, to be completely open about her disorder, will help her maintain relationships, rather than easily discard them and lose countless jobs. Lexi gained a friend in the cafe, and from here, she was able to be assigned a prescription that helps settle her disorder and be back on the dating scene.

Modern Love Season 1, Episode 3, “Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am” is incredible television, and shows off Anne Hathaway’s range — when she is at her best, her performances are unbeatable. I hope this episode does as intended, and gives inspiration and hope to those with bipolar disorder.

You can read the recap of the fourth episode by clicking these words

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Take Me as I Am, Whoever I Am

Anne Hathaway and Gary Carr in Modern Love (2019)

Anne Hathaway in Modern Love (2019)

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Maria bello's <i>whatever... love is love</i> lives in the question.

Annie L. Scholl

Guest Writer

modern love essay bipolar

She kept them under her bed -- a hundred or more journals she had filled since her childhood in Philadelphia. In 2013, while recovering from parasites she had picked up while doing humanitarian work in Haiti, actress Maria Bello started reading her journals.

Bello started with her favorite, a well-worn green notebook plastered with hearts. She expected a trip down memory lane but instead she began asking herself questions, trying to get at who she was and who she had become.

What Bello came to realize was "there was something else eating me alive, something that also needed to come out. It was much more powerful than the parasite. It was my truth."

The result of that exploration was her first book, Whatever . . . Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves ( Dey Street Books , $25.99). The book, which launches April 28, is a series of personal essays about modern family and partnership, and about questioning the labels we give ourselves -- and that others give us.

It's also about the larger conversation about labels, which Bello hit head-on in a Nov. 29, 2013, "Modern Love" essay in the New York Times : "Coming Out as a Modern Family." In that piece, one of the ten most popular "Modern Love" essays of all time, Bello shared the story of telling her then 12-year-old son, Jackson, that she was romantically involved with her best friend, Clare Munn , who was like a godmother to Jackson. Her son's response -- "Mom, love is love, whatever you are" -- sparked the "Modern Love" essay.

It also led to a label Bello coined for herself -- "Whatever" -- which has been embraced by thousands who don't fit so easily into labels like "gay," "lesbian," or "bisexual," and for those who exist outside the heterosexual, nuclear-family structure.

In her book, Bello doesn't just explore labels surrounding sexuality. Each essay heading is a question, such as: Am I a Catholic? Am I a Good Mom? Am I Resilient? She writes about being the child of an alcoholic father, about having been suicidal and of her bipolar diagnosis at age 27.

The book is not, however, against labels, but instead an exploration of which labels hinder or empower us. Ultimately, Bello writes, "Labels are useless and meaningless, unless they are the labels you want for yourself and make you feel part of a community to which you are proud to belong. Labels should never make you feel judged or afraid."

"'Whatevers,'" she says, "are the wave of the future." Bello features some of them in a video she released the same day as Bruce Jenner's April 24 interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, in which Jenner detailed the struggles of being transgender.

Bello calls writing the book, which took her a year, one of the hardest -- and most rewarding -- things she's ever done.

"The hardest part was the editing part -- to figure out the structure and what to include. This isn't a memoir. It's like tiny stories of my life that open up bigger questions. When I finally came to that structure of questioning, then everything seemed to fall into place."

She learned, too, that she had to honor her own approach to writing.

"My writing inspirations, like Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and Stephen King's On Writing and Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones -- they all say the same thing, which is you should write a little bit every day. I wanted to be that person, and I'm not. I would go two weeks without writing, and then in one night I would sit down in a manic frenzy and write forty pages. So I didn't follow the advice of these incredible writing teachers, but somehow I ended up with a book. That must be through the grace of God."

Munn, Bello says, has been a "huge supporter" of her book. It was Munn, who Bello calls "a creative visionary," who came up with the "Whatever Campaign," which includes a line of " Whatever . . . Love Is Love " apparel and items. Part of the proceeds goes toward human and equal rights causes, such as Human Rights Campaign and Equality Now .

Bello calls her "an incredible, curious, odd duck."

"Everybody who meets her falls in love with her instantly. Talk about authentic. She is just incredibly herself. She understands the fluidity of life and is constantly moving and seeking. She's like a four-year-old kid in a forest, every single day, looking for the bird."

Bello says she always has to remind herself that relationships are fluid -- "they are not static." That's true for her relationship with her son, who is now 14.

"We just went through a really bumpy batch because we have to figure out how to relate to each other in a new way because he's not a child any more. He is a young man," Bello says.

"Our relationships are always becoming themselves," she continues. "I feel that, for myself, as long as I live in the question and let that be okay to live in the question, there's a mindfulness and a joy and a curiosity that comes from living in that space."

Bello's hope for her new book and the campaign is "that the questioning will continue and that people will be inspired to get rid of labels that hold them back and accept labels that lift them up."

"That's why being a 'Whatever' is so important to me," she says. "I feel it frees me and it frees others from the constraints of outdated labels. It allows us to find the life we were meant to live."

Photo: Clare Munn, Maria Bello and Mariska Hargitay.

Before You Go

Annie L. Scholl - Guest Writer

Annie L. Scholl, Guest Writer

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