You can suffer from bipolar disorder your entire life and you'd never know it. As a matter of fact, a lot of people who lived in the past had no clue that the condition existed so they never got it diagnosed and treated. You should know that a good number of bipolar disorder patients end up committing suicide when the syndrome got a hold of them. Sincerely, if there is even a mild chance that you can have the disease, you want to get it diagnosed in a hurry. Even if you cannot drag yourself to a shrink just yet, you should at least begin with a self-diagnosis.
Self-diagnosing for bipolar disorder is not an easy thing to achieve, especially since you are not usually able to catch yourself before you slip either into a manic or depressive episode. However, it is not an impossible thing to do. You do have your 'normal' spells during which you are neither suffering from mania or depression. Those are the times you should look forward to catching first.
Men often catch a mania first before other symptoms of bipolar disorder set in. For women, the first phase of bipolar disorder that they suffer from is the depressive phase. As such, you should be able to know which you should expect to happen to you first. It will help also if you recruit your closest friend to take a closer look at you while it is on.
When manic, you may suddenly begin to find yourself irritable and short with your friends. All of a sudden, for no reason at all, you may find that you are speaking too rapidly about one thing and then about another, never able to settle long enough on any one thing. When in the manic phase of bipolar disorder, you feel too self-important and capable of doing anything at all, your energy is so much that you are not able to settle down or sleep. You may feel like you want to head out to Vegas or just take flight trips all over the country, wasting money unreasonably.