45 Truths People With Bipolar Disorder Wish Others Understood
About 5.7 million adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder, but the illness is often misunderstood and rarely talked about. Like other mental illnesses, bipolar disorder faces a stigma that can make it difficult for people living with it to openly discuss it or access the resources they need.
• What is Bipolar disorder?
The Mighty wanted to hear from people who live with bipolar disorder about what they wish others understood about the condition, so we reached out to the International Bipolar Foundation, a nonprofit that works to end the stigma surrounding the disorder and supports those living with it. The organization asked its readers to share one thing they wish others understood about bipolar disorder. Here is what they had to say.
1. “When I’m upset, it’s not always because of my bipolar. I can be upset about having a bad day at work, not having a good night’s sleep or anything reasonable. I’m a human, just like everyone else, and I try not to let bipolar run my life.” — Faith Amber Rios
2. “It can be exhausting and overwhelming to be in your own skin.” — Casie Brown-Bordley
3. “We do not choose to feel the way we do. We aren’t “crazy.” We have an illness. We deserve to be treated with respect, just like anyone else.” — Courtney Lovitt
4. “I know I’m hard work to be friends with, but the ones who stick around mean the world to me and have kept me alive.” — Tess Vandenberg
5. “Articulate, creative and talented people can have bipolar disorder.” — Danielle David
6. “I wish people understood its complexities. It’s not necessarily up one day and down the next. There are also times when you feel completely normal.” — Emma Brooks
7. “People with bipolar are great people to hang out with. We do not need pity; we just need you to understand we are different.” — Sam Kay
8. “Everyone who has normal mood swings is not ‘a little bipolar.’” — Kaitlyn Wolff
9. “No matter how hard you work at keeping yourself balanced, you can still get thrown off.” — Kymberly M. Price
10. “Even if on the surface I look like I’m coping, it can take a huge amount of will, the cumulative effect of years of therapy and damn hard work to keep functioning and doing everyday things.” — Tracey Katz
11. “It’s a broad spectrum disorder. No one person with bipolar has the exact same symptoms as another.” — Amanda Stanford
12. “I hate when I tell someone I have bipolar and they get a look of terror in their eyes.” — Christine Kirton
13. “We are not bipolar disorder. We have bipolar disorder. And most of us lead fairly normal lives.” — Amber E. DeCorte
14. “The mood swings can come suddenly and without warning.” — Susan Foster
15. “When I’m down, it’s not a reflection of how others are treating me, it’s just the wiring in my brain. Sometimes I don’t know how to feel because the illness and the medications are difficult even for me to understand.” — Art Wartenbe
16. “Sometimes, I just want to be left alone. Other times, I need a puppy pile.” — Buffy Franklin
17. “People should not feel guilty because they cannot ‘fix’ it. Company and love are the best things they can give me.” — Joseph A. Golden
18. “You are you, even after a bipolar diagnosis.” — Sharon Willheit Frederickson
19. “I can’t help it. I can’t always just ‘calm down.’” — Rachael Lee
20. “You would never say, ‘Wow! This candy is so diabetic.’ So why would you use ‘bipolar’ as an adjective?” — Brandi Hall McBroom
21. “I’m a productive member of society. I’m not some crazy disease that needs to be locked away. I can do things just like everyone else. I’m strong and funny, and there isn’t anything more wrong with me than the next person.” — Alisha Roney
22. “Though it may not seem like it at times, I’m really doing the best I can.” — Mick Goodman
23. “Just because I’m unable to socialize or communicate with friends and family during my low points doesn’t mean I don’t love them.” — Sherry Danielle Fish
24. “[We’re not] crazy or insane. We are just people living with a condition.” — Emma Sinclair
25. “I can fully maintain my status as a good mother and take care of my children just as well and give them all the love and care they need. They’re what keep me going on my dark days!” — Debi Burr
26. “‘Bipolar’ is not a person. People ask how my bipolar is doing more often than how I’m doing.” — Viki Carter
27. “I hate not trusting my own thoughts or decisions because I’m afraid they’re results of my illness.” — Tiffany Bezayiff
28. “Being manic is not all fun and games. When I’m manic, I can be extremely paranoid, hard to understand (due to my fast speech) and anxious. I take risks I shouldn’t take. I’ll be broke during the duration of the episode (due to shopping sprees). I have no sense of empathy for those around me (since that would slow me down), and I’m restless constantly since I’m working on something all the time.” — Emmaleah Brooklynn Alkire
29. “I wish people would stop asking me if I am happy or sad.” — Lisa Marie Miller Osban
30. “Not everything is due to my bipolar. Sometimes I’m just an as*hole.” — Sarah Klapprodt
31. “People sometimes don’t get how debilitating it can be because it’s invisible.” — Pamela Jean
32. “You sometimes feel incredibly lonely even though you’re surrounded by loving family.” — Hayley Bootes
33. “Just because I’m having a bad day doesn’t mean I didn’t take my medicine.” — Sarah Howerton Kakkuri
34. “I’m tired of apologizing.” — Heather Souza
35. “I wish when people think I’m having an ‘episode’ that they wouldn’t get scared and hide, afraid of what was to come. It sets me up to fail.” — Katie Kennard
36. “My mood does not always mirror my character.” — Asit Mohanty
37. “I don’t always understand it either.” — Stephanie Lee
38. “When under the strain of bipolar’s strongest symptoms, we certainly can make selfish decisions, but that doesn’t make us selfish people. In fact, because we have struggled and known such depths of darkness, our compassion runs deeper.” — Lyss Trayers
39. “For many of us, mania is not an extreme elation or euphoria — it’s anger and irritability and impulsivity and recklessness. It’s a big loss of control of our grip on rationality and reality.” — Lyss Trayers
40. “I’m not a mean person.” — Beth Wilcoxen
41. “I’m standing in the middle of a seesaw trying to stay perfectly balanced.” — Emily Anne
43. “I wish more people understood the physical toll managing this disease takes. It’s not just side effects from medications — it’s also the sheer exhaustion from adrenaline rushes, fatigue from depression, etc.” — Toni Jacobs Burke
44. “Being on medication doesn’t mean I won’t have breakthrough mania or depression.” — Michelle Mirabella Fowler-Wise
45. “I can be happy, I can laugh, I can smile and I can feel good about the world and about life and be optimistic about things without being manic or hypomanic.” — David Luzhansky
*Some responses have been shortened and edited.
**Editor’s note: This headline has been changed. A previous version of the story was titled “46 Truths People With Bipolar Disorder Wish Others Understood.”
For more resources and information about bipolar disorder, visit the International Bipolar Foundation.
If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.