6 Things I Wish People Understood About Bipolar Disorder

As a woman who has dealt with bipolar disorder (manic-depression) for many years, I have experienced a variety of responses to and misconceptions about the disease.bipolarmask

Here are 6 of the many things that I wish people understood about bipolar:

1. I feel like I have to hide who I am and what goes on with me if I am struggling. I feel like I have to wear a mask. That makes other people feel better/comfortable, but it is taking everything within me to put on the act. If I show people what is really going on it would scare most people away…even those closest to you sometimes. 

2. Bipolar is a disease, just as diabetes is. It’s treatable with medicine; but, just like diabetes, there are many different factors that can cause an unbalance. It may mean needing a tweek in medicine or trying new medicine, but there are times when none of that works and you just have to deal with it the best you can.

3. Bipolar does not mean you’re crazy. It also doesn’t mean that you have paranoia, schizophrenia, or any other mental illness. Sometimes, those diagnosed with bipolar also have other mental illnesses; but saying that they are all the same or that one always goes with the other is like saying that diabetes is the same as pancreatitis or that those with diabetes are always overweight.

4. You cannot fix me. No matter how much you try to make me laugh or whatever please understand it is a chemical imbalance. The best thing you can do for me is show me you love me, extra hugs, a text saying you are thinking about me etc. The worst thing you can do is put pressure on me to not be depressed anymore. Depression is not just something you can just snap out of.   

5. Sometimes we don’t recognize that we’re in the Mania phase. If you’re close to someone and see the signs of mania help them to stay grounded. Irrational thinking/behavior goes with Mania and it’s called irrational for a reason. Many times we think we can do things that aren’t possible, including thinking “I feel great/better, so I don’t need my medicine anymore!” I need to be gently steered in a different direction.

6. Many times we think the Mania side is great because we get a lot done and we tend to be the life of the party. However, it is hard to concentrate and stay on any one subject for more than 2 seconds. Not to mention the down is coming; and when it does, it comes hard–which can be exhausting not only to the person going through it but to those around them.

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