What People with Bipolar Disorder Want You to Know

This is the first article in a series we call The Bipolar Voice!
In this series, we hand over the mic to members of the Bipolar Daze community and let them do the talking. We’ll edit here and there for clarity, and of course, throw our two cents in. But the bulk of what you’re going to read in this series is straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. To see more articles in this series take a look at The Bipolar Voice category we’ve set up, there will be more articles added regularly.

If you could tell people one thing about your bipolar disorder what would it be?

If you could tell people one thing about your bipolar disorder what would it be?
If you could tell people one thing about your bipolar disorder what would it be?

We recently asked members of our community this question, and some of the responses really rang true. The answers were varied and plentiful, but some of them stuck out in our minds more than others, so we’ve highlighted them here for you. Here are some of the sentiments echoed the most by the members of the Bipolar Daze Mental Health Network.

I am more than just my illness!

I may have bipolar disorder, but it does not have me! I am not the total sum of my illness. I am a person just like you. I have feelings, hopes, dreams, aspirations. I yearn for a better life and make every effort to make that possible.

I don’t want to feel this way every day!

I follow my treatment plan, I do everything in my power to function normally. There are times when I cannot get out of bed. This is not a choice. Who would choose to live like this?

You don’t need to be afraid of me, I’m not a monster!

Each one of us is different. I am not a violent person nor have I ever been. I am not a danger to you, actually, it’s quite the opposite. I have only ever been a danger to myself. We are extremely beautiful people not only on the outside but also on the inside as well.

It took years for the doctors to simply diagnose me with bipolar disorder!

Getting the correct diagnosis was earth-shattering. After the shock, my life started to make more sense and I began to understand myself more. I wouldn’t trade it in, but I wish I had been diagnosed correctly at an earlier age.

I have a mental illness, but my life is relatively normal!

Yes I am “mentally ill,” no that doesn’t mean my life looks like Angelina Jolie in Girl Interrupted. I am very well educated and highly intelligent. I hold a job in municipal finance. I have a successful marriage. I have a very well adjusted child. I own a home, and my life is relatively normal with the exception of being bipolar. Don’t assume all mental illness looks the same or makes someone “less” than you.

If you have a loved one with bipolar please remember we rely on your help and support!

Always be open and willing to understand, bipolar manifests itself differently in different people. When you distance yourself from a person due to lack of knowledge you gain nothing but an even more upset person. Pay attention and enjoy the good moments. Learn a person’s triggers and be willing to ask questions and be receptive to their responses. If your significant other has bipolar, make sure you are as healthy as can be. We know it can be hard for a loved one to deal with this disorder. Be compassionate and always try to understand your partner. We are all rockstars waiting for our stage, and we need your help and dedication to get us there. For that, we thank you.

There is hope, there is always hope!

I am loving, caring, supportive and everything I was before I was diagnosed with bipolar. Took me 38 years to get my diagnosis confirmed and suddenly I made sense. Made contact with others here (the bipolar disorder support group) and we made sense. Together. As a family of caring warriors. I may not be grateful that I have bipolar! But, it could be worse. I could be evil and not give a shit…. But I do. The same as I always have. Just empathic to my family who suffer unnecessarily.

It takes a courageous person to live inside the bipolar mind!

It takes courage to live inside my head. It sucks not knowing how you’re going to feel the next morning, or even perhaps the next hour. Bipolar isn’t just a subtle change in mood, where you’re either happy or sad. Yes, that’s a part of it, but bipolar disorder is much more complex. Sometimes I’m sad, depressed, even suicidal for months at a time. Sometimes it lasts only a couple of weeks. Next thing you know I’m in a manic episode, where I seem to be on top of the world. The crash is coming once again.

There are different types of bipolar disorder and at varying levels of severity!

Not everyone with bipolar suffers at the same level. There are different types of bipolar (bipolar 1, bipolar 2, cyclothymia, mixed episodes, etc.). There is no cookie cutter treatment plan, although most treatment plans are a combination of medication and therapy. Not everyone responds the same to treatment. Not all medications work for everybody. Not all therapies are as helpful as we’d like them to be. The point is we all suffer to varying degrees with different aspects of the illness.

I can’t simply snap out of it, bipolar is a chemical imbalance in the brain!

Please don’t insult me by telling me I “need to snap out of it.” Not only is this impossible to do, but it also makes me feel like you’re not trying to understand what I’m going through. You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg to “walk it off,” or someone with a heart condition to “get over it.” Please don’t expect the impossible. Let me know you understand, or are trying to understand, by asking questions and/or doing some basic research on my condition.

Have something to share with us?

These excerpts are literally just a small snippet of the replies we got from the community. Of course, your opinion matters as well. Please feel free to leave a comment with what you would like people to know about your bipolar disorder. And be sure to keep an eye out for more articles in our The Bipolar Voice series.