When Friends and Family Don’t Understand Bipolar Disorder I don’t know a single person with bipolar disorder that doesn’t have one friend or family member who just doesn’t get it.

Argument #1 “Oh, I have felt depressed/anxious/manic/tired/etc. before too! All you need is to read/exercise/meditate/etc. to fix it! It worked for me no problem.”

While all of those are good tips for living a well-balanced life, they do very little if anything when you are deep in the throes of depression or mania. Logic and reason go out the window along with the basic ability to take good care of yourself. I fully believe in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) as very helpful tools to manage your bipolar disorder but these will not cure it. They just won’t. So, to have someone tell you that you just need to do this one thing and you won’t be depressed or manic anymore is absurd and irresponsible. It perpetuates the stigma that this is “all in your head” and that you should be able to control it.

For these kinds of people, I highly encourage sitting them down with some good resources and educating them. These are the people that want to help but don’t know how. They don’t fully comprehend the fact that you can’t possibly find anything fun to do when you are depressed. BpHope has a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of bipolar and how best to tackle it. See links at the bottom of this page for more educational information.

Argument #2 “You’ve got to be kidding! Not this again. Why can’t you just be better? It’s not that hard. Other people do it just fine.”

This one is by far the hardest and most tricky to tackle. For people that give off this classic, aggressive form of stigma, the best thing to do is work around them. These are the kind of people that you will disappoint at every turn. They refuse to listen and are verbally and emotionally abusive.

Try your best to avoid these people or minimize contact. Some of them can be reasoned with but the majority won’t. Too much negative reinforcement is toxic to you and not helpful to them. I know it’s hard but you need to put yourself and your happiness first. Period. No matter how you feel or what you have done, you deserve happiness. I will stand my ground until the very end arguing for that.

All in all, you have a mental disorder. Your brain doesn’t function the same as everyone else’s regardless of public opinion. But that doesn’t mean you are weak. In fact it means you are much stronger than you think. It takes monumental courage and strength to live life with bipolar. I say this all the time here and on my blog: you are a warrior. You fight until your last breath. Everyday you fight you are winning. Keep fighting.

Don’t be ashamed of your actions. Learn from them and grow.

 

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