I’m Not Bipolar, I’m An Empath!

It’s amazing what you find on Facebook sometimes. I was just perusing my newsfeed and found a gem of a post about empaths—people who are exquisitely sensitive to the world around them and everything in it. To say that this describes me almost to a T would be the understatement of the year…..and if I didn’t know better, I’d swear it’s not bipolar, but being an empath that makes me the way I am. Read on:

“Feeling others emotions and taking them on as your own: This is a huge one for empaths. To some they will feel emotions off those near by and with others they will feel emotions from those a vast distance away, or both. The more adept empath will know if someone is having bad thoughts about them, even from great distance.”

Hoo, boy. I can feel the vibes from miles away whenever one of my family members is pissed off or feeling sorry for themselves. Even if nothing is said. I don’t always DO something about it—sometimes these things have to run their course, and it’s best if I leave bad enough alone because it can be triggering for me—but I sure can sense it.

Others will want to offload their problems on you, even strangers: An empath can become a dumping ground for everyone else’s issues and problems, which, if they’re not careful, can end up as their own.”

You can say THAT again. People I’ve never met before will often come up to me and tell me their whole life story, and I’ve never understood why. Maybe I have an honest face, or I just seem like someone they feel safe with. Either way, it happens pretty often.

“Addictive personality: Alcohol, drugs, sex, are to name but a few addictions that empaths turn to, to block out the emotions of others. It is a form of self protection in order to hide from someone or something.”


“Drawn to healing, holistic therapies and all things metaphysical: Although many empaths would love to heal others, they can end up turning away from being healers (even though they have a natural ability for it), after they’ve studied and qualified, because they take on too much from the one they are trying to heal. Especially if they are unaware of their empathy. Anything of a supernatural nature is of interest to empaths and they don’t surprise or get shocked easily.”

This is one of the reasons why I became a nurse, and then wanted out so badly after a couple of decades. It’s like an empath to give and give and give until there’s nothing left, and that’s exactly what I did. No wonder I bailed…..and no wonder I’m thinking of going back.

“Creative: From singing, dancing, acting, drawing or writing an empath will have a strong creative streak and a vivid imagination. Love of nature and animals: Being outdoors in nature is a must for empaths and pets are an essential part of their life.”

Well, DUH. But you knew that already.

“It is impossible for an empath to do things they don’t enjoy. Feels like they are living a lie by doing so. To force an empath to do something they dislike through guilt or labelling them as idle will only serve in making them unhappy. Gets bored or distracted easily if not stimulated: Work, school and home life has to be kept interesting for an empath or they switch off from it and end up daydreaming or doodling. It’s for this reason many empaths get labelled as being lazy.”

Dingdingding! We have a winner! Boredom is one of the worst things in the world for me; I get full of ennui and attitude, and things never go well once I get to that point.

And then, there’s this:

“Can appear moody, shy, aloof, disconnected: Depending on how an empath is feeling will depend on what face they show to the world. They can be prone to mood swings and if they’ve taken on too much negative will appear quiet and unsociable, even miserable. An empath detests having to pretend to be happy when they’re sad, this only adds to their load (makes working in the service industry, when it’s service with a smile, very challenging) and can make them feel like scuttling under a stone.”

Is the guy who wrote this stuff good, or what? There’s a lot more in the same vein, all of which leads me to conclude that I am, indeed, an empath. I’ve never seen anything that describes me so well, and it’s amazing to think that there are other people out there with the same characteristics. It turns out I even know a few of them.

And yes, I’m still bipolar. 🙂



Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

14 thoughts on “I’m Not Bipolar, I’m An Empath!

  1. Awesome. I have heard many empathic types talk about their need to learn shielding techniques, grounding techniques, and many other ways to get others’ energy off of them…I still suck at it sometimes. My daughter, at 14, displays most of these traits already even though she may or may not be bipolar later in life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. I’m really amazed at how much being bipolar and being an empath overlap. It sucks in a way, but I think it also makes us capable of great compassion and creativity.


  2. Hi, yet another connection of bipolar to something as natural and positive as being an empath. There is also a connection of bipolar to spiritual awakening. Being spiritually awake and empathic does not fit well in a world of work, work, work, do, do, do — no wonder medications are needed to treat these same exact behaviors neatly contextualized under the DSM as “bipolar.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lately I have been studying the idea of an empath and bipolar disorder and how they are related. So far the only conclusion that I have come to is that the relationship between levels of empathy and bipolar disorder depends on if you look at empathy as a cause or effect of bipolar and vice versa. If you look at empathy as a cause of bipolar it could be possible. A person who experiences a heightened sense of empathy for others could also experience mood changes due to a strong feeling for what others are going through. For example an empath who doesn’t know of their ability might confuse someone else’s feelings for their own or allow someone else’s energy/feelings/vibes to effect them because they’re highly sensitive. In this instance being an empath would seem as though a probable cause for bipolar disorder. Now if we look at bipolar causing a heightened sense of empathy, it may not be the case. If we simply place the cause of bipolar on chemical imbalances and heightened and lessened activity in certain areas of the brain, which is a scientifically proven by tests and brain imaging, empathy would be lessened by bipolar disorder. The parts of the brain that decipher empathy for others are less active on those with bipolar disorder. Also the fact that those with bipolar are often so caught up in their own emotions it is difficult for them to read and empathize with others. Many studies have reported that those with bipolar disorder had a more difficult time reading other people’s facial expressions and body language. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and see signs of me being both more and less empathetic than others in different situations. In some instances I have been very unthoughtful of how a something make may someone else feel often saying something wrong and not expecting it to hurt someone’s feelings or not being able to tell how someone is feeling based on their body language or facial expressions as well as tone of voice and actions. In other circumstances I have felt as though I have a higher sense of empathy for others like being able to physically feel someone else’s pain weather it be emotional or physical or being able to feel someone’s energy, knowing when someone is lying or being able tell when something is about to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow but why r u still bi-polar? R u certin? How can you tell. Do i, who was im told im bi-polar really need my meds. I take them everyvday to slow my brains thoghts down but what if they are not all my thoughts? Ive been extra sensitive since i was a small child worring about all kinds of things that only adults should even know about….how do i figure all of this out.
    I saw a star track show as a older kid about an empath but didnt undersand it way way back then 1969 or 70. Im in my fifties now and just realized this is ME……YESTERDAY!!!
    Wow hit me hard …..im going to read everything i can but why cant Drs. tell the diffrence after all the years of school they go through. Where can i be tested and treated??? Please give me some ideas on what to read or where to go….Thank you….i love nature cant stand litterbugs and always had and love animals of all kinds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m definitely bipolar. But I’m also an empath. Google it to find out more about it. You may simply be a highly sensitive person and an empath who doesn’t need treatment. It couldn’t hurt to be assessed by a mental health professional though. Best of luck.


  5. I found this article to be dead on. I figured out the empath stuff about a year ago. I am still learning how to block others emotions and trying to decide if I should switch to a nursing career from a interior design consultant. Would value opinions!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I could advise you, but I’m still struggling with boundaries as well. As for becoming a nurse, well…I can’t really recommend it to someone who suffers from bipolar disorder. The disease ruined my career, although I think the career was part of what did me in. Nursing is such a stressful line of work, but it can also be very rewarding…success in the profession depends on how stable you are and how well you are able to roll with the punches. If you can say honestly that you’re capable of these things, then by all means switch careers; many nurses who deal with mental illness are very happy with their work. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you success in all future endeavors. 🙂


      1. Your post really hit home to me! I come from the nursing world. My mom has been a nurse for more than 30 years (beside too! She’s crazy lol). I got my CNA in college, my LPN mid 20’s, and worked on my dream unit in my dream hospital – med surg telemetry! I wanted to continue to get my RN, then BSN. I also knew I’ve been an empath for years however, I was finding it harder to deal with being an empath as I got older. When I was first working on that unit, I loved it! But of course, after time, I was feeling so burned out, jaded, and resented the demanding patients, those who asked for bacj rubs, or took advantage of having someone “serve” them. While I was waiting to get in to the bridge program, I was recruited to apply to a public Heath program by my old nursing professor. It’s now my last quarter and I’m feeling better and not as burned out. There are times where I do miss the nursing world and contemplate going back and start over. I love policy making, advocating (even advocating for nurses), and public speaking about public Heath issues. I just find myself going back and fourth. I love taking care of others but it takes ALOT out of me. Even my co-workers recommend NOT going back to nursing. Most of them plan on going back to school as they say it’s not a job to have forever. What are your thoughts?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I wish it were different, but I couldn’t go back to nursing even if I wanted to. I have too many cognitive issues, and I could never keep up that pace again. It doesn’t sound like you have my problems though. I think you ought to go with your gut. Only you can make that decision, but listening to what your heart is telling you will rarely lead you the wrong way.


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