What I Wish I Said When My Relative Tried to 'Educate' Me About Bipolar Disorder

I once had a relative who described bipolar disorder to me when he discovered my diagnosis. I don’t know why. I am the one who lives with it. He said it in the most simplistic terms, too. He said it feels good when you are up, but then you inevitably go down.

I sat there, with my mouth open, not knowing what to say. So, I said nothing.

I wish I had spoken up.

It is not that pretty, neat or simplistic. For one thing, I tend to get psychotic. For me, mania is more terrifying than “fun.” It is paranoia, hallucinations, delusions — not the party he described. I tend to isolate so I don’t go out and get in trouble, but I ignore people around me. I get distracted from those who mean the most to me. Other people I know have ended up with jail time, debt and ruined relationships.

And, this inevitable crash I hear about may be typical, but I don’t experience cycles like that. I have more depressive times than manic. And my depression doesn’t correlate with how “high” my mania went.

I don’t think he really wanted to be educated, but I wish I had said something along the lines of “It is much more complicated than that. I can tell you more if you would like.”

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