I'm bipolar, I'm not sure how seriously but I do know that I'm different to most people I know. I also know it runs in my family as my Dad has been diagnosed with depression (which recurrs) and my bro is now seeing a psych too. They like to say that it's genetic, but in reality I'd say if your parents were fucked then your environment is likely a bit screwy and of course you'll take on board some of their shit.
That aside I did therapy for about six months (ACT - Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) with and anti depressants and it worked wonders for me. At the end of it my psych said that she thought I was bipolar but there was no reason to label myself other than to be able to find known courses of action that help bipolar people. Going around saying "Oh, I'm bipolar so ..." doesn't solve anything unless it's "I'm bipolar and that means that this course of behaviour or engaging in this or that is likely to cause me harm". It's not an excuse, it's a piece of information about yourself.
The best piece of advice I ever got was from my psych. She told me that for bipolar people it's not the depression that needs to be managed, it's the manic side of things. The higher you let yourself ride that rollercoaster and the more speed you build up the more likely you are to crash and the lower you'll dip. Recognising the signs of that 'up period' and curbing it is the most important thing I've ever done to manage things. I haven't had any antidepressants for about the last two years and I've been what I'd consider fine.
The signs of the up part of the ride are shortening sleep, more energy, trying to control everything (eating way less, exercising way more) and a few other things. Usually I notice the sleep stuff pretty early and I can combat this by going for a few more walks or just trying to engage with people more. Chamomile tea, or herbal sleeping stuff and just forcing myself into a sleeping routine really, really helps combat this stuff too.
Which I guess is another important point and that's routine is really important during some periods. During down periods my routine really suffers (diet, exercise, work on time etc) and I find if I really concentrate on getting into, or keeping my routine then you can work your way through things much more quickly.
The resounding message though is that it's not going to be easy. Even with the drugs I took (which helped a lot at the time) they had their own down sides which I hated. Everyone i know that has taken anti depressants has the same story to tell. Either way you need to be prepared to put in the work and not use it as an excuse. Sometimes your life will be harder than other people, but sometimes it will be easier, also I'd recommend reading a book called "The Gifts of Depression" as I found this gave me a fresh perspective on things.