5 Things Not to Say to Someone with Bipolar Disorder
You need to calm down. I mean, does anyone really want to be told this? Probably not, but it’s even worse when you can’t control how excited, loud or energetic you are. When someone is manic or hypomanic, this is definitely not something to say to them. Mania and hypomania can cause the person to speak more loudly, speak over people, have tons of energy while getting very little sleep, make them hyper focused on a topic or project, or cause really severe irritability. None of these things are controllable, and odds are, if they could “calm down” they would, they don’t need to be told.
Just snap out of it. This could be something said to someone during a manic episode, but I think it’s more likely to happen during a depressive episode. Depression is very poorly understood by a lot of people. They tend to think if you try hard enough to be happy, or do x, y, or z you can go back to being your normal self. That’s just not the way it works. Depression isn’t a choice, and it’s not something that just affects someone’s mood. It can cause physical weakness, problems maintaining proper hygiene, hypersomnia (sleep too much), grogginess, poor judgment, and a whole list of other symptoms. It’s not as simple as just, “snapping out of it.” Just don’t say it to anyone suffering from depression; it only adds to the guilt and hurt they are feeling.
I’ve never seen you depressed or manic, so I don’t think you’re bipolar. Leave the diagnosing up to the medical professionals. Just because someone thinks they haven’t seen someone with bipolar either manic or depressed, doesn’t mean they haven’t. People with any mental illness can get very good at masking their symptoms. Seeming perfectly okay to others while absolutely falling apart on the inside. Statements like this also feed into imposter syndrome which a lot of people with bipolar disorder suffer from. Imposter syndrome can take on different forms, but in bipolar disorder it usually means that someone feels as though they aren’t actually sick, or don’t actually have bipolar disorder. This is the main reason a lot of people with bipolar disorder will stop taking their medications at some point in their life. When they’re well or manic, it’s easy to think everything is good, that they were just faking their illness, and they’re not actually bipolar at all. Statements like this make it even harder to push those thoughts to the back of their minds.
Try harder. This kind of goes hand in hand with, “just snap out of it,” but it is different. This directly implies that depression or mania are within the person’s control; that’s just not true. Yes, there are things people with bipolar can do to reduce their symptoms, but nothing is going to cause someone to come out of a depressive or manic state aside from medications or time. Others may argue with me on that, but that’s been my experience.
Your life isn’t bad, you shouldn’t be depressed. This statement says to the sufferer that their depression is based off of life events; that’s not the case. Depression is cause by a chemical imbalance in the brain. There can be a catalyst that starts a depressive episode, but someone could have the best life ever and still become depressed. Depression is out of everyone’s control. No one can just smile more, or think happy thoughts and cure depression.