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What People Really Need to Stop Saying to Those With Bipolar Disorder II

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I was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder II in October last year, and I’ve noticed people around me have misunderstood the disorder and made assumptions, leading to the following questions and statements.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

1. “You’re one of the lucky ones.”

It’s a common misunderstanding that people with bipolar II don’t struggle as much as people with bipolar I. While this statement is partly true — we don’t have full-blown mania — we can still go to the same depths of depression as with bipolar I. So people often invalidate my feelings by telling me I’m lucky because I don’t have bipolar I, when I struggle badly with suicidal ideation, which can be very dangerous.

2. “Are you in a hypomanic state now?”

Since being diagnosed, I have been in a very dark depressive episode, so when I get excited about something, have a little more energy or just having a better day than usual, people ask me if I’m in a hypomanic state. I began to laugh this off, but now it is a bit annoying. I can’t help but feeI they’re just waiting for me to go hypomanic. Please just be grateful I’m having a good day.

3. “You don’t look mentally ill.

When I told my friends and family that I was diagnosed with bipolar II, some of them looked very shocked and said this statement to me. But, what does mental illness really look like? It’s invisible. When I’m in a depressive episode, I go out of my way to make it seem like I’m fine because I don’t want to worry anyone. So, I always use humor and hold up a mask to make it seem like everything’s alright. However, when I’m alone, I’m a completely different person. People need to stop trying to paint an image of what mental illness looks like.

4. “Have you taken your meds?”

This one doesn’t only apply to bipolar disorder but all illnesses. If we, for example, are having a bad day or didn’t get enough sleep, people feel compelled to ask if we have taken our meds. It always makes me feel like I’m a child, and kind of disappoints me. Instead of asking that question, try asking if we’re OK — that can go a long way.

I know they mean well, but it gets really exhausting having to explain this to people daily.

So, if you know someone who struggles the same way, try to avoid these questions and just be there to comfort them.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Getty Images photo via Milkos

Originally published: April 6, 2018
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