Bipolar Characters In Shameless

Just sitting here, three months after watching all nine seasons of this TV Show based on its namesake in the UK and I realize just how much in common I actually have with the two bipolar characters in the show. Those characters are Ian Gallagher and Monica Gallagher.

It is refreshing and resonating to watch how Ian progresses throughout the show and how well the writers portray bipolar to the audience. From the onset Ian appears by all accounts to be normal (if there is such a thing) and doesn’t exhibit any noticeable symptoms. It isn’t until season three that things become a little unusual as he illegally enlists in the military, steals a helicopter and goes AWOL. Some traits that could potentially be linked to being manic. In later seasons he goes on to working in a strip club, being a sex worker (paid for sex), stealing a baby and going to jail. Once Ian comes to terms that he has bipolar, seeks help and receives medication he becomes stable and starts a career as an EMT.

Then we have Monica, the absent mother of the Gallagher’s. She is identified as having bipolar from the onset. Her appearances in the show are sporadic but when she is around the symptoms of bipolar are evident. At times she is manic but the most notable moments are when she is severely depressed. During these depressive episodes she would hide away sleeping and not get out of bed to ultimately dying.

Before I was medicated I saw a lot of myself in Ian, the intense bursts of energy and erratic behavior were becoming a big problem for me too affecting many areas of my life throughout the decades. Then came my diagnosis and treatment and I now find myself more like Monica, shorter periods of elated mood and much longer and quite severe depressive moods.

Are there any TV shows or movies that others have watched in which bipolar is portrayed correctly?

If you haven’t watched it before I definitely recommend that you take the time to watch Shameless (US), it’s on Netflix the last I checked.


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