Yeah, I'd say it must be very hard to diagnose something like bipolar or a lot of other disorders too really. I'm "lucky" in that when I had that really big manic episode it was sort of a text-book example of what happens. Plus of course my wife was frantically calling my old psychiatrist saying she didn't know where I was and what the hell was he going to do about it. That got their attention.
Sometimes I think symptoms need to be really severe before anyone really notices.
Not sure if I can agree to that last statement. When I started anti-depressants and a sedative, that's when the 'manic' episodes came in. Usually when one goes on anti-depressants and becomes manic, it is considered as bipolar disorder. But looking back and seeing how I've basically been given one medication after another simply because of any move that was made, it made things worse than they actually were. When it genuinely started going bad and I went cold turkey from medicine while other things were going on, that was when I was least seriously taken. I hold that grudge with the psychiatric and to an extent the psychologist industries. This also counts the potential bodily damage that was done if I had not went cold turkey after basically being told to 'suck it up'.