EVEN when she was at school, Sharon Sutton’s moods were up and down.

“Like a rollercoaster ride,” she says.

“I could be so loud one minute running amok and totally reserved and depressed the next.”

For Sharon, from Bowburn, County Durham, this was the normal way to be, which is why she never thought anything of it, although she did wonder why she was always more excited about something than your average person would be, and why she would just sit and cry for no apparent reason.

She was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but far from letting this crush her, she is opening up about her condition on Facebook in a bid to help others learn more about the oncidtion.

The former fish and chip shop owner and mother-of-two also volunteers her time to raise awareness and stamp out the stigma surrounding the bipolar disorder. “Unfortunately, society can be rather ignorant about this illness,” says the 31-year-old.

Sharon created the page on Facebook called Me, Bipolar & I in October last year and it’s become an international success, attracting more than 6,600 followers and being recognised by the International Bipolar Foundation in the US.

Sharon very much values all of her Facebook friends’ support from around the globe.

More than anything, she hopes they all learn something from the material she posts on her site. “It is my absolute passion being able to speak out to others,” she says.

People knew that Sharon was always slightly different to other people but never knew why until she started to research the diagnosis she had been given. In fact, she thinks of herself as being “one of the lucky ones”, because she has embraced bipolar disorder and doesn’t mind telling anyone she has the condition.

“Some people go all of their lives without seeking help for fear of being either branded, excluded from society and rejected. Those are the things which put people off from getting advice and help, but nobody should ever be too proud to ask for it,” she says.

At her lowest ebb, before she was properly diagnosed, Sharon tried to take her own life.

“Luckily, I failed,” she says. “I know that there are people out there who have gone through worse than I have, but everyone is unique.”

In a bid to deter people who may be having suicidal thoughts, Sharon constantly reminds her Facebook followers that “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”.

That attitude led her to getting professional help when she needed it, until she was satisfied that she didn’t need any more help from doctors.

Bipolar disorder, which used to be known as manic depression, is characterised by highs and lows, violent mood swings. “You do not have to have a reason as to why you are depressed.

Being upset or having a bad day is not the same as depression,” she explains. She actually enjoys hypomania – the “high” peak of bipolar – as she says she is very productive when in that frame of mind.

“After years of counselling, anti-depressants and seeing a psychologist, I then saw a psychiatrist off my own back. I chose to take matters into my own hands after months of being in denial that anything was wrong. It has taken me all of my life to get to a point of finally being on an even keel,” she says.

Since her diagnosis, Sharon has been on a mission to research the mental health illness so that she can explain all about it to other people all over the world – from behind her PC screen and by talking to people she meets This has led her speaking to nurses and students about her condition and she is willing to speak about bipolar disorder to schools, colleges, universities or to take part in a research “Please don’t hesitate to contact me via the Me, Bipolar & I Facebook page message facility,” she says. “I would love to hear from you.”