I am sorry to hear your story. It's a darn good thing you got out!
Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way over the years, the only people you tell are your spouse and MAYBE your immediate family, although that's not a good idea much of the time. Never tell your friends, unless you have a very close intimate friend who has noticed your strange behaviour and mood changes and actually says something to you about it. There is a huge stigma, people think you are using it as an excuse for your behaviour, or you are "thinking negatively", or are just irresponsible, or that you do drugs. Many people as you have noticed don't believe in it or most any psychiatric problems. Just don't tell. When you get stable, it will be much less noticeable.
Why don't you have a psychiatrist (pdoc)? GPs don't have the expertise to treat BP effectively - it's a very complex mental disorder - the hardest to treat of any. It usually does have to have a cocktail and there are TONS of possibilities. Have you tried lithium? It's very cheap and it works! Also, depakote is available generic and is extremely effective. Topomax is the last resort, it slows your mind down, and is called "dopomax" by pdocs LOL! If you are in school, you can't afford that. If you aren't stable, you are on too low a dose, and the more you take, the slower you get in your cognitive abilities, especially memory. Stable does NOT mean slow! It means not depressed, not manic. You should feel very good. How long have you been trying to get stable? I really recommend a pdoc, this is their specialty, GPs are not trained, they only know about the highs and lows in general and usually treat one or the other, and that's not correct in the overwhelming majority of cases.
I am concerned when people aren't feeling right and are being treated by a GP, it doesn't have to be that way with a good pdoc.
Also, it seems that you are much more concerned about what your friends think than your illness! Since they are not supportive, what kind of friends are they, really? I wouldn't even think of wasting my time with people like that, and didn't when my friends showed their true colors. Concentrate on YOU! You are the most important person in your life.