How do I tell my self-diagnosis to counselor?

Q: it has been brought to my attention by a close friend that I need to seek councling. On a good day ( which are becoming few and far between) I decided to look on the web for information about the problems i have and the problems my friend has pointed out to me. I must say it didn't take long for me to find a complete discription of myself. That night I told my friend, " I think I have bipolar disorder." He responded quickly with " I think you do to!" He said he had done he own research and came to the same conclusion that I had. I will tell you there is no doubt in my mind. In reading the information I could see my whole life. I am a 38 year old female with a entire background that fits the disease to the T. My question is. I have made an appointment to see a councler. How do I say to this person that I think I am bipolar? I don't know how long the light will stay on in me right now so I may never see your reply unless you e-mail me directly. I have long and longer periods where I am not doing well and much shorter periods when reality sets in. Please if you can e-mail me this information it would help. Also is see a councler instead of a doctor the right choice? Thank you for your time, L

Dear Ms. L' --
Quick, before it fades -- take the Mood Disorders Questionnaire (if you haven't already), print it, and take it with you. 

It's okay to start by saying something like what you wrote -- "I think I have bipolar disorder".  But add that you're open to other diagnoses she/he might offer after listening to your symptoms and their history.  Or you could just walk in and say you think you need some help and see where it goes from there.

Starting with a counselor or therapist is ok, but if you have bipolar disorder, you probably will need a doc' to prescribe medications (so far it looks very uncommon, maybe rare, to be able to control bipolar disorder without medications -- although there are some important ways to add to medications that you may have read about on my site (e.g. )).  The therapist may be able to recommend someone good.

Dr. Phelps

Published January, 2001