MedCircle Original Series

Living with Undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder

Author David Leite endured panic attacks, anxiety, depression, & manic episodes for 35+ years. The cause? Undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Here’s how he coped.

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Series Overview

Growing Up with Undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder & Anxiety 16 Min

David likens growing up with unaddressed mental health issues to “looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.” He also describes his childhood anxiety as “chest-blowing panic.” He explains what it was like coping with these mental health issues while growing up in a household that didn’t believe in mental health.

What It’s Like to Deal with Unexpected Manic & Depressive Episodes 20 Min

David experienced his first hypomanic episode while attending Carnegie Mellon University. At a time when mental health was highly stigmatized and not openly discussed, David had no idea how to handle this bout of energy that eventually plunged into a depressive episode. In this session, he details how he found ways to cope on his own.

How David Overcame the Stigma from Professors, Parents. Doctors & More 8 Min

After suffering through his first major depressive episode and dropping out of Carnegie Mellon, David faced the stigma of mental illness and was struggling to find his way. But when he took a job as a personal chef, he wasn’t just introduced to cooking; he experienced the life-changing power of mindfulness. In this session, he shares how this changed the trajectory of his life.

The Healthy (& Unhealthy) Ways David Advocated for Himself 15 Min

Joining a cult isn’t a common stop on someone’s mental health journey - but David’s journey became so strenuous that he resorted to joining the cult “Aesthetic Realism” to instrument change in his own life. He eventually learned how to take control of his mental health journey and become his own best advocate. He details this life-changing reconciliation in this session.

David’s Experiences with Different Providers: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly 23 Min

David struggled to find a mental health provider that was right for him. He details the highs and lows of the many therapists and psychiatrists he’s seen, and how he finally found the ones that work for him - all with the support of his partner Alan, and with an unstoppable will for recovery.

The Life-Changing Tools & Treatments David Uses Today 16 Min

David fought the stigma of mental health on every step of his journey - from his family, his own mental health professionals, and even from himself. He de-stigmatized his own battle with bipolar disorder through group therapy and other tools that he continues to use to this day. He details how he found mental wellness - and how his mental health is today - in our final session.


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You can get free access to all 6 segments of this video series when you become a MedCircle Member. You’ll also get access to weekly virtual workshops and more than 900 educational and inspiring videos. 

About the Series

David Leite is a world-renowned food writer, food critic, and author. He also lives with bipolar 2 disorder. His memoir, Notes on a Banana, is a coming-of-age story of resilience and self-acceptance that candidly details what it was like living with undiagnosed bipolar 2 disorder for over 35 years.

David likens growing up with unaddressed mental health issues to “looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.” Throughout his six-session series, David sheds light on what it was like coping with bipolar disorder, anxiety, panic attacks, depressive episodes, and more. David explains how he navigated these issues in multiple environments where struggling with mental health was viewed as a sign of weakness or failure. At many points in David’s life, even talking openly about mental health was simply not an option.

David says “he wouldn’t change his manic depression for the world.” His story is a beautifully frank account of how friends, family, love, relationships, and the institutions in which we operate can all help and hurt our mental health journeys – and how mental wellness ultimately comes down to advocating for yourself.

Who is this series for?

This series is phenomenal for supporters who want an inside look on what it’s like to cope with a mental health issue in an environment where mental health is stigmatized or looked down upon.

This series is also helpful for health professionals who want perspective from a patient who entered the mental health care system in childhood and still went undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years. This series provides direct patient feedback on what to do and what NOT to do when diagnosing and treating mental health issues.

"I loved David Leite after I read his book. I was so excited to find this series on MedCircle."
MedCircle Member

In this series, you’ll discover:

  • The additional mental health impacts of growing up in an environment where it’s taboo to admit you have a mental health issue
  • What it’s like to deal with manic episodes, depressive episodes, and panic attacks when the root mental health issue is still unaddressed and undiagnosed
  • How operating in an environment where mental health is not openly discussed actually aggravates mental health symptoms
  • A realistic understanding of the life-changing difference that friend and family support makes when someone’s mental health journey gets tough
  • How David figured out what he needs out of the mental health professionals he works with
  • The tools David used to advocate for his own mental health and finally reach the correct diagnosis after 35 years

“I walked into the next session [with my psychiatrist] and said, “tell me, am I going to get any better?” And he said, “this is about as good as it’s going to get.” And I said “Screw you. I will get better. I will thrive. I will have a great life. And it’s not going to be with you.”

Chef, Mental Health Advocate, & Survivor


Start Watching This Series Now!

You can get free access to all 6 segments of this video series when you become a MedCircle Member. You’ll also get access to every video series from the MedCircle doctors.