10 Fears of People Who Live With Bipolar Disorder
Acclaimed (and somewhat questionable) horror writer H. P. Lovecraft once said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
While Lovecraft was referring to supernatural horror in literature, the same can be applied to mental health. By its very nature, bipolar disorder can command a fear of the unknown in those who live with it. If you’re reading this as a person with bipolar disorder, it’s likely you already know fear all too well. Fear is a natural part of being human, yes, but that doesn’t make it any easier to live with. Whether you fear never getting “better,” being abandoned by your loved ones or even fear the “good days” with bipolar disorder, your experience with fear is not only valid, but most likely common among others in the bipolar community.
That’s why we asked our bipolar disorder community and mental health community for the fears they have related to bipolar. We hope, reading their answers below, you’ll recognize how utterly normal your fears are. You aren’t alone in them, and no matter how true they seem to be… they don’t have to control you. You’re worthy and deserving of love and life every bit as much as anybody else is, I promise.
Here’s what our community had to say:
1. The fear of dying by suicide.
“That I won’t survive a depressive episode someday. I am only 31, and each time it gets harder. How will it be in two, five or 10 years? The darkness just gets darker with every episode.” — Jess D.
“My worst fear is that, in a mixed state of depression and mania, I will suddenly die by suicide because I believe I can transcend this life and make the world a better place. (I’m cringing at myself as I write this.)” — Jane M.
“I fear that one day, I will finally buckle and die by suicide. I’m not scared to die. I’m worried about how it would affect my wife, my daughter, my siblings, etc. No one in my family is mentally stable and I fear it would have a domino effect.” — Chisa P.
2. The fear of never being stable.
“My fear is, no matter what I do, I will never be stable. I can try everything in the book and still struggle. Thus this leads to a feeling of being unfit for this world — that you weren’t meant for it because you can’t cope with life due to something you didn’t choose and can’t change; that you’re stuck having to explain yourself to others and even yourself. That you are this way because of your own brain and all you can do is cover the large wound with a baby Band-Aid and hope for the best.” — Kaytlan B.
“My fear is I will never get better. It seems to be getting worse with age. I also fear I will never be able to keep any sort of relationship or friendship because they don’t understand, and my disorder causes me to push people away and/or not put in the effort.” — Kyla G.
“I’m afraid I’ll never be stable — that my instability will always chase people away and I’ll always be alone. I’m scared my condition will drain those closest to me and they will eventually leave me because they can’t handle it. It hurts watching those who you thought loved you walk away because you became too much for them.” — Grace S.
“I’m always afraid I’m never going to be stable enough to be functional in a workplace again. I quit the best job I had in a manic episode and I haven’t had a good job since. The ones I have had, I end up leaving in three months like clockwork. I used to be a breadwinner and now I can’t even leave my house.” — Trinity R.
3. The fear of losing people.
“That when I’m in my angry manic episode, I’ll say something in anger that an apology won’t mend, and I’ll lose a friendship, job or family over something I can’t control, no matter how hard I try.” — Wendy W.
“I’ve been married for only about a year and a half. We’ve been together for almost six years. Yet every time I have a depressive episode, I fear he’s going to leave, even though I know he loves me. (Actually, it’s always in the back of my mind.) Why be married to someone who’s ‘broken,’ like when I can’t get it out of bed? My greatest fear is that everyone I love will one day, sooner rather than later, figure it out and leave me. I will be abandoned.” — Sarah L.
“Love. The anxiety of losing someone. The depression when you can’t express the love you hold, and the mistakes of mania. You are many people with bipolar. Someone has to love all the changes.” — Drazik B.
“This is going to sound petty, but I’m afraid that new people or potential friends will hear ‘bipolar’ and just run the other way. I’m lucky to have good friends but I’m afraid to tell new people about my struggle.” — Mary C.
4. The fear of losing yourself.
“I’m on social security disability for mental health problems. Specifically depression, social anxiety and most recently bipolar 1 disorder. I’ve been on disability since I was 19 years old and I’m now 31. Three years ago, I had a job I had kept for three years. My longest job ever. I was overworked and along with the quickly deteriorating politics in our country, it all was too much and triggered my first and only to-date manic episode. I was hospitalized three times over that winter, from 2015 to 2016. I am terrified of ever trying to work again in any capacity after that traumatic experience. I was so anxious and completely paranoid that I was literally sick to my stomach. In short, I’m afraid of losing myself and who I am to another manic episode because the next time, I may not survive.” — Kevin M.
“I’m bipolar and I have dissociative episodes. I’m talking, I lost eight months of the last year. I lose more time in a depressive episode. I’m scared of going back into a depressive episode and forgetting my fiancé again.” — Elizabeth M.
5. The fear of having children/starting a family.
“My greatest fear is pregnancy because I would have to go off my medications. I don’t know how I would handle being without them and how much it would impact me mentally as well as physically.” — Nancie C.
“I’m scared of having children as I would have to get off of all of my medications and be put on a single “pregnancy safe” mood stabilizer I don’t even know would work.” — Brittany V.
6. The fear of hurting your children or being a “bad” parent.
“That I’m ruining my children. My daughter came home with a drawing of me sleeping, and her dad telling her to leave me alone. I’d been in the throes of a depressive episode and could hardly get out of bed for a week. Seeing what this looks like to my kids so vividly broke my heart.” — Kristy H.
“That I will be a bad mom. I know what I go through on a daily basis, living with the constant ups and downs, and I don’t want my future children to view me as a terrible mother because of my ups and downs.” — Hali B.
“My children. I am terrified they will grow up to hate and resent me. I fear they will develop their own mental health issues simply because I am their mother. I fear I am not, and cannot, raise them the way they need because I am broken. I fear they will ever think I don’t love them. Because I do love them. With everything I am.” — Allison S.
7. The fear of passing bipolar on to your children.
“Bipolar disorder runs in my family. The mania and drug abuse of my elders have really made me consider not having children. My worst fear is they come out like us. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, let alone my own potential children. I’m afraid I’ll never feel the joy of holding my own child.” — Sydney T.
“That my fear of passing down my genes will outweigh my desperate yearning for a family; that I’ll never get to be the mother I’ve always wanted to be.” — Jordan R.
“My biggest fear is having children. I don’t want to make a human have to go through what I do.” — Erica K.
8. The fear experiencing (another) depressive episode.
“Going back to the depression I used to experience when I was younger — before I could push myself through it. I don’t want to sleep for two days; I don’t want to push off my friends; I don’t want to lose my job because I just can’t bring myself to get up anymore.” — Carolyn M.
“I’m scared of my depressive episodes. I won’t get out of bed, I’ll have suicidal thoughts, won’t eat and inevitably end up in inpatient care. Mania is bad, but it doesn’t compare to the length and severity of depressive episodes.” — Samantha G.
“The depressive episodes, which can sometimes last years. For all of high school, I was severely depressed and the hardest part was I couldn’t share it with anybody because you constantly have to be happy. It severely impacted the relationships I had with others. I felt like a fraud when people said they liked me. No, you don’t know me. You only know what I chose to show you. I’m literally petrified I’m going to be this way for the rest of my life.” — Brianna P.
Answer this member’s question about mania:
9. The fear of your medication not working anymore.
“Even though I am on medication and have been very stable for a few months, I am always afraid of slipping into another manic episode. Sometimes my body essentially stops responding to my medications and I have dangerous manic episodes, followed by terrifying depressive episodes that last for months.” — Samantha M.
“That my medications will stop working. Again. (It happens as we age.)” — Julianne V.
“So, I’ve been pretty stable for quite some time now due to medication, which is super awesome. My fear is my tolerance will build and I’ll go back to the person I was before medication. I wasn’t a nice person to anyone, and the worst part is, my mood swings and anger hurt me just as much as they hurt the ones around me. That’s my ultimate fear.” — Ronnie R.
10. The fear of experiencing hypersexuality.
“The hypersexuality. I’m a Christian who believes in waiting until marriage, which I know isn’t popular, but it’s what I’ve decided to live. I’m so scared I’m going to act on the feelings. The feelings terrify me.” — Kaitlyn R.
“Being able to control the ugly monster that is my hypersexuality while manic and hurting those I love because of it.” — Sami P.
If you share any of these fears, you are not alone. Fear not — it is possible to live a full and happy life with bipolar disorder, and these fears don’t have to define you. Check out some of the pieces below to get support from your community:
- 15 ‘Small,’ but Significant, Lifestyle Changes That Help People With Bipolar Disorder
- 6 Ways I Maintain Balance in My Life With Bipolar Disorder
- Top 5 ‘Survival Guide’ Tips for Living With Bipolar Disorder
What do you fear as a person with bipolar disorder or another mental illness? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo by Sara Rolin on Unsplash