Bipolar II is not less severe than Bipolar I. You are right that the symptoms are different. Kudos to Catherine Zeta Jones for being public about her illness, and congrats on hiring publicists who can intelligently explain it. Would we were all so lucky. If you’re unaware, however, here’s a quick rundown: Bipolar I is characterized by periods of mania followed by periods of depression. Mania’s a euphoric state. Individuals can go without sleep for days, for example. And states may last from hours to months. Bipolar II does not usually feature classic mania. Typically, there are periods of hypomania, which can be understood as a state of heightened creativity, energy and impulsivity that does not meet the requirements for mania.
Like the Jezebel article states, people with Bipolar II tend more toward the depressed end of the scale. There are exceptions. Some people may never experience full-blown mania or hypomania and still have bipolar disorder, and even if they do experience hypomania, they’re not necessarily better off than people with mania. Everyone’s experience is different. I have a diagnosis of Bipolar II, and my symptoms have changed over the eight years I’ve lived with the label. For me, the one constant feature of my illness is depression.
Here’s the deal, Jezebel. Depression kills. In fact, people with Bipolar II are as prone to commit suicide as people with Bipolar I. Bipolar II is a life-threatening illness and it is just as severe as the other points on the bipolar spectrum. Don’t trivialize the disease because you’re too lazy to look it up.
Update: The Huffington Post made the same error. Why the hell can’t people do their research?