What Is Bi-Polar Disorder?

The caller who says he's the son of the murdered couple says he suffers from psychiatric problems including bi-polar disorder. According to psychiatrists, that disorder along with other medical problems Brent Springford says he has can lead to impaired thinking. We talked with one man who suffers from the same disorder to find out how it affects him.

When you look at him he seems contented, well adjusted, calm - and he is, but this is not how Tommy Bilbro looked just a few years ago. He says "It's terrible. It's unbearable."

He's been in and out of psychiatric wards because he has the most severe kind of bi-polar disorder. The kind that causes extreme mood swings like bouncing off the wall highs. Bilbro says "You get where you can't sleep. You can't stop, you can't stop talking. You can't sit down and stay in one place a long time. Can't concentrate." And then hours or days later come the extremely deep lows. "You don't get out of the bed. You don't answer the telephone. You won't go to the door. You don't want to associate with people and it gets so bad you just don't want to live."

Bipolar is what the caller who said he's Brent Springford says he has - only a milder version. "I've also been diagnosed many years ago with bi-polar 2. Please forgive me because my memory is not well. I am not mentally or completely well or stable." Psychiatrists say the medications he's taking are mood stabilizers and anti-depressants, and none of his medical problems they say would cause a person to be extremely violent or homicidal. Bilbro says "I used to like to fight. In the bars and beer joints I used to be a pretty violent person. Was that when you had been drinking? Yeah. Did you feel violent when you hadn't been drinking? No."

And, that's the difference. Psychiatrists say it's usually the illegal drugs or alcohol that cause the violence - not the bi-polar disorder. In fact, there aren't even the extreme mood swings they say when a person stays on his medication. "I'm a lot more content with myself now - a lot happier with myself. I understand myself a thousand per cent better. I know why I am like I am."

Bi-polar disorder is probably not are rare as most people think. It is the second most common mood disorder after depression. Celebrities like Patty Duke and Jane Pauley are just two who suffer from it.

Reporter: Eileen Jones