I realize that this post was from 6 weeks ago but I'm new tonight and just found it. I have to comment on what you have said especially about Bipolar as I have it myself.
First, Bipolar Disorder I is the category that includes the most severe swings and can include episodes of dementia and psychosis as well as hallucinations. My ex-partner had this form and changed while we were in the relationship into someone that I didn't even recognize anymore. I went to visit my family for a few days and came home and found that she had shaved her head, dyed her hair cherry red and joined a militant Atheist group. Less than a year later she had joined a very homophobic Christian church and decided to live her life as celibate because she had a revelation from God.
When she was manic she would talk and talk so fast that I could hardly understand or get a word in. She made plans to sell all of our belongings and go around the country telling people about how evil the government was at the time under Bush. There was no reasoning with her at all.
When she was in the depressive phase she would get so bad that she didn't leave the bed for almost a year and had convinced herself that she had MS and brain tumors and all kinds of things, but that nobody would believe her.
Knowing how much she needed support and loving her I stayed with her for years until I knew if I stayed I would end up dead.
I have the lesser form of Bipolar, but I certainly wasn't happy and I don't know anyone who has been diagnosed with Bipolar II because they're happy. Happy people don't go to for treatment. I can't understand where you got that from.
I spent the majority of my years from 17 to 36 feeling suicidal but forcing myself not to do it. I went to work every day and put on a good face because it was retail for most of those years and I was ashamed of what I was going through.
Since I didn't have health insurance most of that time, because I worked for small businesses or just couldn't afford it, I was on and off medications to help treat my depression. When I was on them I was more stable and didn't think of killing myself every day, but once I stopped it started all over again. I even tried acupuncture, meditations and positive thinking like "The Secret" and that didn't work either.
Finally at 36 when I left that relationship I went into the hospital because I finally felt like I couldn't keep from doing it any longer. I got on a new medication, and started doing much better. I felt like I always imagined other people felt. I was able to get into college and get a part time job since I moved back home and finally felt like my life was on track.
Unfortunately, as mental illnesses go, I had two more relapses before finding out that I was Bipolar. I even experienced auditory hallucinations that were terrifying. Adding a mood stabilizer made a big difference and it's been over two years since I felt suicidal.
Judge all you want, but all the "self-correction" in the world wasn't helping me to get better at all. You probably suffered the occasional situational depression that people go through sometimes. That is much different from a mental illness like I suffer from. Unless you've really dealt with a true mental illness you can't know at all what it's like.
For anyone who knows someone suffering from mental illness the best thing you can do is to just let them know you support them. There's no need to try to fix or counsel them, just be there and don't treat them like this person Vast Shadow.
I feel like people need to know that it's okay to talk about, because by always being ashamed of talking it just makes you feel more alienated and alone and more likely to get to the point that I was when I felt so suicidal. Believe me, it's a relief to have those medications that saved my life.
The one place that I can agree about the overuse of medications is for people who simply suffer from situational depression that's not severe enough that they're at risk to take their life. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a newer therapy EFT (which sounds bizarre but it helped me immensely as well) are great tools for that type of problem vs. always using medications. They can also be used with good results on children who shouldn't need medications if their condition isn't severe.
By the way, mental illness IS a disease.
So that's what I think.