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Please Don't Call People With Bipolar Disorder 'Overdramatic'


As a person with bipolar disorder, I’ve been called “overdramatic.” I understand there are moments when this feels like an appropriate adjective to use. But for someone with a mental illness, there are a few good reasons labeling me as “overdramatic” is a bad idea.

1. Given my sensitive nature, it hurts.

My bipolar disorder makes me emotionally in tune. My moods do bounce around, causing a whirlwind of feelings. I know it’s not always justified when I have an emotional reaction to being told this or that. But when I’m categorized as overdramatic, it sinks in.

2. I can’t always control my reactions. I don’t want to “act overdramatic.” I might not be able to help it.

Sometimes I get unusually irritable. It’s more unusual to you, I imagine, than to me. I usually don’t know when it’s going to happen. So next time you see me being moody or irritable, consider how typical it might feel to me.

3. I have my moments, but they’re in my nature.

I don’t want to be penalized for every outburst I have in my life by someone who doesn’t experience how uncontrollable they can feel. Unless you’ve experienced it, you don’t know the intensity and how exhausting these depressive and manic episodes are. I already feel bad enough when I’m struggling; being called “overdramatic” makes it worse.

4. My physical well-being can change as often as my moods do.

That’s how it’s always been, and I suspect that’s how it always will be for me. So when I’m depressed, stuck in bed and flat out don’t have enthusiasm for life, I am not trying to be overdramatic about it. It is real. It does happen, and I usually can’t just “fix it.” On the other side of the spectrum, when I have racing thoughts, a ton of energy, enthusiasm and grandiose ideas, I probably can’t contain that all to myself.

5. I’m fighting it.

I take medications to maintain a tornado in my mind that takes a hold of everything in there and can cause chaos with everything around me. I go to therapy, and that’s a proven necessity for me. I tried stopping my medications (as have many at some point or another), and that did not last too long. And because of that, I have no choice to experience the many side effects of them. Believe me, if you think I am overdramatic now in my current state of being, you will witness a whole other level of “overdramatic” when I don’t treat my mental illness.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one phrase you wish people would stop saying about your (or a loved one’s) disability, disease or mental illness? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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