When it comes to dealing with the side effects from Bipolar Disorder coming up with the right thing to say can be hard. Whether it’s during a manic episode or a suicidal state, choosing your words carefully is imperative. It’s not hard to trigger a negative reaction especially if someone is cycling (a rapid change of moods).
There are a few things you should never say to someone with Bipolar Disorder – here are the ones off the top of my head.
Things Not to Say to Someone with Bipolar Disorder
OMG! You’re so Bipolar! No, really Sherlock? Did you deduce that on your own or did my bottle of Lithium give it away? We don’t need a reminder that we are Bipolar.
You’re not going to kill yourself, are you? While your concern is duly noted, I may not have even been thinking about suicide. Now that you mention it… Are you suggesting I kill myself? Rational thinking isn’t always present when someone is having a mood swing, talking about suicide could be a major trigger.
You’re not really going to kill yourself, you’re just looking for attention. See above. Also, a statement like this could actually drive someone with no suicidal intent over the edge. There’s nothing like having someone doubt you while you’re in a depressive state. Sometimes we go to extremes to prove someone wrong.
Cheer up, it will be okay. This is probably the second worst thing to say. Being Bipolar does not mean we have a switch to control our emotions. Cheering up isn’t as easy as watching a happy movie and indulging in happy time.
Get over it. The absolute worst thing to say in my opinion. Firstly you’re barking orders which is the last thing someone with Bipolar Disorder will positively deal with. Secondly, it’s not that easy.
Does that mean you’re crazy? The terms Bipolar and Crazy often go hand in hand when you don’t understand either term. Bipolar is a disorder that while it may lead to behavior seen as crazy does not make one crazy.
There are people worse off than you. I’m well aware of that, I watch the news. Sometimes those things make it even worse for me, wondering why others have to suffer while I continue to live.
But you’re so pretty/smart/funny… While the thought behind this sentiment is appreciated, it’s hard to see past the negative during a depressive moment. Chances are we’re not going to believe you anyhow and may even take it as condescending.
In lieu of these statements, lending an ear is sometimes all we need. Listen to us rant, occasionally reassuring us that things will get better – not insisting. Offering your time is a great sentiment and a good way to reassure us that we are not alone. Don’t try to analyze our situation because most of the time you wont see it as we do. We tend to blow things out of proportion and making a big deal of something that isn’t a big deal. Let us deal with it on our own while being that muted voice of reason we’ll no doubt be needing in the near future.
If at any time you think there’s a chance we could harm ourselves or others do make a phone call. Don’t worry about us being mad – we will get over it. Caring for someone with Bipolar Disorder means sometimes having to make a hard decision. What’s worse, having someone mad at you for a little while or losing them forever?
As children we are taught that our brains work due to neurons firing. We’re taught about different emotions and how to handle certain feelings. What we’re not taught is that not all brains work the same. They don’t teach you about Bipolar Disorder in middle or high school. Sadly this is something many people have to learn about the hard way – either by living with the disorder or having a loved one that does.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder at a young age. I had always known that my brain didn’t work like others. That there was something not quite right with my way of thinking. There were some days the thought of living was unbearable, while other days I was hyper to the point of not being able to control my actions. Not only were these issues scaring me but they were affecting my family as well.
To say I was a difficult child would be an understatement. I blatantly refused to follow rules. I had no respect for anyone, including myself. I did what I wanted all with a lack of impulse control that caused many problems for myself and family. Looking at me you would have never guessed I was capable of some of the things I did. Looking back I still can’t believe the agony I put friends and family through.
I can’t count the number of times I have attempted suicide. I can’t fathom how many times I’ve thought about it; there are times that is the only thing on my mind. The severe depression that accompanies my bipolar disorder leaves me feeling alone, desperate for a way out and empty. Depression is common but the severity that accompanies bipolar disorder is crippling and dangerous.
Today I found out via Facebook that a well loved actor who lived with Bipolar disorder had died. Robin Williams apparently committed suicide. I’ve always loved him, he seemed so happy and so grounded. That’s the facade many people living with Bipolar Disorder take on. Looking and seeming to be happy but silently suffering with thoughts of inadequacy and anguish.
I wish there was a cure for this debilitating condition. I wish more people understood what it is capable of doing to those it affects. There is medication that helps, but it’s very rare that someone dealing with Bipolar Disorder stays medicated. We stop taking medication when it seems to have “fixed” us and when we are off of our medication we do not want to be back on it. Personally, I hate feeling like I need a drug to keep me “normal”. The looks I get (or feel like I get) from anyone that finds out I’m on medication for a mental disorder makes me feel shameful.
I am currently coping with my Bipolar Disorder the best way I know how. I have a few friends who I can talk to that don’t judge me and I turn to them when I’m at my lowest. Knowing there is someone who cares is a huge relief especially during the depression moments of Bipolar Disorder. When there seems to be no one around to listen or show any sign of caring is when things get the worst. The feelings of loneliness and despair overwhelm us leading to a decision that could be the last. Knowing how close I have come to making that decision – and how many lose the fight every day terrifies me.
If you or someone you know suffers from Bipolar Disorder seeking help may save lives. I’m not suggesting medication, although it does help many – but having a safety net – a friend, relative, spouse etc.. can be the difference between life and death. Here are a few resources for help dealing with Bipolar Disorder.