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Bipolar disorder the focus of upcoming presentations in Omaha

Two upcoming performances at the Omaha Community Playhouse focus on the struggles of a family dealing with mental illness.

The play is called “Next to Normal.” It tells the story of a family dealing with a mom’s bipolar disorder. Following each performance will be a discussion with UNMC mental health experts about mental illness. One is Dr. Howard Liu, a child psychiatrist. Liu says he wants to dispel the misconception that mental illness is something uncommon and kept out of public.

"We know that it's so common, that if we look at any of our family trees going back just one or two generations, and honestly asked our relatives, our parents, a lot of this stuff wasn't formally diagnosed one or two generations ago. And you'll see that people have struggled from deep depressions and periods where they acted unusual, and it was simply not understood at the time. So it's very common, and with treatment folks can have very high-functioning lives."

Dr. Liu says his presentation, on March 2, will focus on mental health from two perspectives: that of the provider, and of a family.

"Next to Normal” will be presented this Sunday, February 16, and March 2. More information is available at