More Things I Wish People Knew About Bipolar Disorder

1. Not everything has to do with bipolar. We have bad days just like everyone else. We get mad, sad, frustrated, upset, but it doesn’t have to be due to our illness. In fact, it’s kind of patronizing to accuse us of having a mood swing when we’re really just having a crappy time of it. We are allowed normal feelings!

2. We don’t appreciate being asked if we’ve taken our meds. Again, we experience hardships just like everyone else on the planet, and sometimes we react poorly. Who doesn’t? We also have times when we’re happy, even overjoyed, and it doesn’t mean we’re manic or off our meds.  But it seems like some smartass always has to say it: “You’re not acting like yourself. Did you take your meds today?” Seriously, would you ask a diabetic if she took her insulin? A cancer patient if he went to chemo? No? Then why is it OK to say these things to us? We are not irresponsible children, we are adults equipped with the same constellation of emotions everyone else has, only a little more intense at times. Rule of thumb: if it’s not something you’d say in polite company, don’t say it to us.

3. Don’t take it personally. Our illness has nothing to do with you, and neither do our actions when we’re under the influence of a mood episode. I know it’s hard to understand when someone with bipolar is screaming obscenities and saying hurtful things to you, but it’s really not aimed at you in particular. To be honest, we really don’t have a lot of control over ourselves at these times, and while that’s not an excuse for bad behavior, it is a reason. Of course, there are those who are mean and nasty even without bipolar disorder, but the vast majority of us are decent people who occasionally lose our shit, along with our manners. Please forgive us if you can, and remember—it really isn’t you, it’s us.

4. Crazy is not a spectator sport. I think it’s safe to say that most of us don’t want the world to know we’re ill, which is why we so often retreat inside ourselves when we’re depressed. (Mania, of course, is a whole other story.) I for one can function well enough to pass for normal…that is, until I’m so sick that death would be preferable to going on like that. I don’t want people to see the crazy. I don’t want them to know there are days when I don’t even get out of bed, let alone shower and get dressed and go out. I also don’t want anyone to know the black thoughts that come sometimes when I can least afford to let my mind wander down paths best left unexplored.

(And by the way, I’m the only one who gets to call myself crazy. That’s just how it is.)

There’s more, of course, and I’ll probably tackle those in a future installment. Thanks for reading.

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.

35 thoughts on “More Things I Wish People Knew About Bipolar Disorder

  1. I want to do something about the phrase “mental illness”. How about “psyche-sick”. Mentally ill almost sounds vulgar to me. And I’ve been sick for most of my life.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey, I’m for it but the community at large probably would think that strange. Being “mental” anything just. …gets me. .. probably my newly minted bipolar dx.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know, I was pretty sensitive about “mental” labels when I was first diagnosed BP. Now my attitude is like, okay, so I’m mentally ill. Big whoop, a lot of people are. But I really hated the label when I was ‘newly minted’ myself, so I empathize with you. ((((HUGS))))


      3. Sorry to hear about that depression. How on earth does anyone cope with that for 30 years? I went through a bad patch last year that lasted months and resulted in me being hospitalized for suicidal ideation and intent. That was bad enough, but 30 YEARS?? How did you live through it?


  2. Great and wise post. I really HATE it when my husband says “did you take your meds”? I also hate it when the kids say…”take your meds mom, we don’t want a medless mom. I just figure this is my penalty for being ill. Which is bullshit, of course!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just found your blog. I like it. The only person who gets to ask me if I took my meds is my husband because 1)some of them are new meds on a new schedule and I do forget and 2) he uses his privilege very, very judiciously. And yes, the only person who gets to call me crazy is me!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh man. I forgot this one, but:

    “Should you be drinking on your medication?”

    I mean, the short answer is probably not, at least not to excess, but it’s a little infantilizing to have someone nanny you over the odd glass of wine when they don’t know squat about your illness or your meds. I’m not trying to encourage irresponsible behavior, but if/when we do decide to have a libation, it’s not like we don’t know we’re doing it. Some of us drink and some of us don’t, but those of us who do tend to have already gotten the rundown about alcohol from our doctor, so we don’t need it from an amateur. It’s usually well-meaning but also kind of insulting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. THIS is the post that prompted me to nominate you for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award. It was like a check list for me: yep, yes, said that, did that, had that said to me, right. I’m still scared over being diagnosed, still paranoid of owning the word bipolar. Your blog posts help me. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m happy I could be of assistance to you. That’s one of the main reasons for this blog—to help other bipolar people understand themselves a little better and give neurotypicals a view of what we go through. Your comment made my day!

      Liked by 1 person

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