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5 Positives of Living with Bipolar Disorder (Besides Creativity)

Having bipolar disorder is certainly a tough illness to manage, but that doesn't mean there aren't any positives that come with it. We hear a lot about the connection between creativity and bipolar disorder. While many people with bipolar disorder are creative, what about the rest who aren’t? We asked our volunteers about other positive qualities that come with living with bipolar disorder, and here’s what they had to say:

1. It Gives You Strength, Tenacity, or “Chutzpah”

"Having bipolar disorder means I am a fighter and a survivor. I have been through things other people couldn't imagine, but I am a stronger person because of it." - Olivia Fuller

“Bipolar has given me Chutzpah.  That is a Yiddish word that means a great many things...tenacity, moxie, audacity” – Susan Schlesinger 

2. It Makes You More Proactive About Your Overall Health

"A huge part of managing bipolar is being proactive about my physical health: what I eat, how I exercise, and how I sleep. It's important that I stay away from processed foods (helps to manage moods), practice yoga and meditation every day (to keep my anxiety/depression at bay), and sleep a solid 9 hours (inadequate sleep often results in worsening symptoms)." – Lyndsay Marvin

“In order to take care of yourself mentally, you have to take care of your overall physical health. Exercising and eating better helps you stay more positive in the long run." – Sarah DeArmond

“I have incorporated various practices into the start of my day to begin in a more grounded yet energized way.  My morning activation (routine) consists of meditation, intention statements, and yoga.  If I wasn't diagnosed with bipolar disorder I don't know if I would have these practices incorporated into my mornings.” – Scott Walker

3. It Gives You Empathy For Other People

 “I feel like I'm more sensitive to others and less likely to judge after what I've personally been through.” – Sarah DeArmond

“I believe I'm more empathetic towards everyone as a whole. For instance, if someone lashes out at me, instead of getting defensive or wondering what their problem is and being angry for the rest of the day, I'll think more so about how they could have some issue I know nothing about. They may not be coping well. I should probably make efforts to ease their stress a bit more in the future and maybe ask how they're doing more often.” – Briana Hedgepeth

4. It Helps You Know Who Your Real Friends Are

“It gives insight ln who is really there for you in your weakest and will abide your side. It proves how much some people love us unconditionally to stand by our side through thick and thin.” – Zeina Adel

"I'm able to tell who my friends are a whole lot quicker than most people." - Briana Hedgepeth

5. It Gives You The Ability To Help Others Who Have Bipolar Disorder

 “The best part is being able to help others” – Jessi Lepine

“I am a Case Manager for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and suffering with bipolar myself can be difficult, but I think it help me be able to relate with individuals on my caseload at times better. I have "been in their shoes" so to speak. It definitely doesn't work with all consumers since everyone is so different, but it helps with rapport and trust.” – Lori Krausen

 “I was able to help my own child when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he felt comfortable coming to me, because I never hid it from anyone, including my children.” – Terri Smeigh

“I would like others to benefit from my struggles with bipolar disorder” - Shannon Yazurlo

This article was written by our Advice and Support Community, a group of about 50 volunteers who contribute their advice based on their experience living with or caring for someone with bipolar disorder.

International Bipolar Foundation is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or received from the International Bipolar Foundation.


Those are all true, esp the ones about empathy and helping others. I'm not shy or ashamed about it and have met many others with bipolar or other illnesses. It's like a little community of understanding and support.

hi i am a bipolar and i want to help other bipolars how can i do that

I always wondered why i was bipolar.well,in the last year i found out my 15 yr old is i can unerstand wat she nees when she is having issues. thank hyou Lord!!!

My bipolar disorder has enabled me to be a lot more sensitive to others' moods. I am able to sense someone's energy (positive, negative, confused, etc.) quickly. This has helped me cope with my personal and work life. People say, "You're so quiet." I'm a thinker and planner and schemer, and I'm planning my next move about how I'm going to react and how I'm going to better myself and work toward higher spiritual development.

Congrats to you.. you give me hope.
could I ask what medication you take?
I'm using Risperidone and Depakain.

I have suffered bipolar disorder since the age of 15 and have had the full spectrum of episodes. I have an extremely strong family history. I am now medically retired but until 5 years ago was a consultant psychiatrist. I found I had an almost innate sense of distinguishing between unipolar and bipolar diagnosis people my colleagues were missing. Sometimes people would only have to use a certain phrase and I know because I've been there. Now after 3 years remission I want to do something with this knowledge experience and most of all empathy, Any ideas welcome!

I think you should definitely go about inspiring others who are where you were once and remind them that even if you are bipolar you can be loved, you can be successful, appreciated, understood and most of all make a difference in the lives of those around you. I am now 26 was diagnosed Bipolar 2 at the age of 22, however suffered with it for about 7-8 years prior. I also have a family history of depression, bipolar disorder and suicide. I nearly failed my Bachelors degree in science due to my psychiatrist misdiagnosing me with Major Depression even though I kept on telling him I am bipolar. Eventually I rushed myself to hospital at 22 when I felt myself going through the beginning of a nervous breakdown and was finally diagnosed bipolar. I am in South Africa and would also like to use my story to motivate others suffering from BPD. I now have my masters of medical science in pharmaceutical chemistry... so yes you can do anything a normal non-bipolar person can do. It just takes a bit more effort and a lot more dedication due to the fatigue you get as a side effect of all the medication I take.

I think it would be cool if you went to the medical world and helped them so they can identify it as well as you did.

I am a wife and mother to two young children, and I have dealt with bipolar for the last 18 years. Because of this I am strong (even on the days it doesn't feel that way).
And just recently I have been able to share my experience with a friend who is 16 yrs old and just being diagnosed with bipolar 1. So even though sometimes it sucks dealing with the illness, now I feel like it hasn't been in vain, because I can help a friend.

I have had rough patches lasting nearly a year. Every night I told myself "How dark it is before the dawn," and also "The new meds might kick in overnight and you'll wake up feeling better." I've had it happen just like that....overnight. Maybe seven times. So I guess in addition to creativity on several areas, I'm a fighter and a positive thinker, a self life coach.

when i was diagnosed bipolar 26yrs ago i was bewildered, distressed and lost. i felt stigmatised and hid the condition from my family and work colleagues. i drank alcohol to help medicate the mood swings outside work hours.of course this did not help the condition which i thought i could ignore. i had become alcohol dependant and then divorced. life was very unmanageable. although sticking with medication and psychiatrist reviews it was when i began to openly admit to the condition of bipolar .i sober 5yrs now with help of alcoholics annoymous ... i have a very productive life now at a pace i can cope with .The key is keeping out of isolation and having positive like minded people in my life. i partake in meditation classes and art as therapy.I accept myself on life terms now and life is good.

Congrats to you. There is hope.

This inspires me. I hope I find peace someday. I hope all is still going well :)

awesome information

I recently discovered I am Bipolar and most likely bipolar 2. I, strangely enough was actually excited. Not because I was happy that I had it but, because I was happy to know what is was and, put a face on what's been going on and affecting me. Starting about 6 years ago but, greatly over the past 2. I had always had a basic knowledge of what I "thought" bipolar was but, never really knew for sure. (Like most people). I didn't know it was something that could develop later on. I just thought you either had it or you didn't. It wasn't until recently when I was so depressed, returning from a business trip and wishing the plane would just crash with me in it! After getting home, I never even unpacked my bags. I went to bed and barely even got out for 3 days! It's never been that bad before and, I knew something had to be done! I was scared because, I didn't even have the motivation to get out of bed, let alone, take a shower, get my mail or pay my bills. I don't think I would've got up if my house was on fire and I even wished it was on fire! And to think that just 8 days prior to this I was training with highly skilled personnel and equipment yet, now I don't even want to get up and brush my teeth. I have a very skilled job and, am educated. Something else that was false about my perceptions. I know now that, it doesn't discriminate and that it doesn't care about how you were or who you were in the past or what position you held or how much money you made either. I just hope that knowing what is is and treating it will allow me to get back to being at least productive again!

I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed or the various BiPo charities/ agencies/medical bodies but this is the first article I've read that is both positive and representative of my own experience. Well done and thank you. x

Growing up I was tought that to speak of any mental illnesses was weak and and would be deemed "crazy." I allways felt like an outcast in school and was diagnosed bipolar when i was 19. Finially an answer to the madness. Trouble was the admitting it part. I started to isolate myself for fear of being called crazy. I just wanted to be normal. I am now 30 and have been through many medications, therapy, street drugs, alcohol, divorce...and life as a whole. It wasent until I was completely ready to accept the word "crazy" that my life started to make sence. Today I still struggle with the word crazy but the difference is that I know from past struggles that I will be ok in the end...

I was diagnosed in 2004 though I knew something was wrong long before then. I constantly wanted to check myself in from age 19 on and didn't feel right. Since diagnosis I have been on so many medications that I have lost count, and hospitalized multiple times. No one explained the dangers to me of manic episodes and now I have an extensive criminal record to go with it. Risky behavior... Every time you try to explain to a non bipolar person what's in your head; oh it's impossible. I've realized my chutzpah, and keep moving forward and trying to improve while educating those around me.

Your comments are great! I am going through counseling for the second time around, and will likely be diagnosed soon. It's very gratifying to hear of my condition and to read everyone's comments. Everything in my life now makes sense. I feel relief and excitement, but not shame. Actually, I am an incredibly empathetic and sensitive, caring individual. Just recently, now in my mid-30's, I see and understand the way I work with others in a professional setting, where I have also struggled the most recently. I have been studying the way I communicate for almost a year. My life has been a train wreck off and on for years because of awful past boyfriends, and drug and alcohol abuse and I feel like my bipolar didn't really make itself known until late adolescence, and even more in the last few years, but still I was never diagnosed. I love public speaking, and reading, and writing and want to put my energy into discovering and developing even more strategies to deal and cope.

All of these are so true, there's a real sense of knowing yourself too. Even if you alone can't control it without the use of meds/regimen/therapy you still know when you are about to dive, you know the feeling of the valley and you know that you need to come down easy or else you'll crash land. You have to hope for these things, but you know them. I finally in recent years have no problem talking about it, it isn't my excuse, it's my explanation. The illness gets a bad rap in the media, so much negative press when someone untreated makes a wrong turn...but you know's true...going off your meds does feel great the first three days...then agitation...then unbearable darkness & pain you'd kill to get rid of. We & families & society need to support each other better to help this from happening!! Everyone deserves to stay on track and feel healthy!!! It's only fair 'outsiders' understand we can't 'snap out of it' and we aren't truly intending to act the way we sometimes do.

I was diagonised back in 2012 as I joined campus,I was depressed but through medication and faith I have improved,its sad here in Africa people know very little about bipolar,I jus wish there was more awareness for example I have never met someone who is bipolar,I feel alone

Jim, you are not alone, you are never alone. I was just diagnosed this year and I went through a similar feeling. Until I was diagnosed, I didn't know anyone who was bipolar, probably because it is rarely talked about.

I also wish that there was more awareness and less stigma, but talking about it seems to help. Overwhelm is constantly what I feel, whether in a manic way or a sad way - just overwhelmed by some emotion. It is like I know what is happening but I can't dig my way out of the hole. Talking to others and medication has begun to help. It also helps me to know that I am not alone and that this is happening because of chemical imbalances, not moral reasons. Stay strong, time can help to heal.

I am a 32 year old mother of five who has just been diagnosed with bipolar. After a lifetime of insanity it actually feels great to finally know what's been going on with me. Now I can finally begin to get myself under control. I know for a fact living with this illness has made me an incredibly strong women. So happy I'm going to get this all under control not just for my sake but me family as well.

I was diagnosed 16 years ago.
I'm strong I hold a job all throughout.
I believe I'm strong by nature
I believe the hardest thing its been to adjust the highs and lows and how that affects my perspective.
Consistency and stability are some of my greatest pursues, I'm currently incorporating exercises before and after work as well as use music to help me go up a in energy or mellow down some.
My life it's surely turning for the better financially & spiritually.

Love peace and happiness.
Be beatiful.
I'm out.

One last thing I'm a slow cycling bipolar
2 months up
And 2 months down.

Not wishing to sound negative about these sort of articles but there needs to be a counterbalance to keep things in prespective.

Here's my 5 reasons why a bipolar diagnosis is detrimental:

1) Highest risk of suicide out of any psychiatric condition
2) Impact of a bad episode on leading a normal life, holding down a job etc.
3) Being seen as a risk to other people: stigma.
4) The loss of freedom that comes with strict self discipline.
5) The fact that you could pass the illness onto your children.

No, we don't need a "counterbalance." There's enough of that already. It's certainly easy to veer off into self-inflation, but stories like this are rarely told and I'm glad to hear them. These people sound very sober and self-reflective in their hopefulness.

I have been BD all my life, but I think it helped me to fall in love deeply at an age of 8, 18 and 24. Also it helped me to create several musical albums, it also helps me to be a deep thinker with empathy and sensitivity for the world we live in. I cry when I read the news where others do not give a damn. It helps me to search for God within.

I completely agree with this list. Especially the empathy section. Being Bi-Polar and ADD and having struggled through life to this point I have a ton of empathy and compassion to people that I see normal people avoiding. I always have.

My method for dealing with the symptoms is my faith in God and no matter how I am feeling, especially when I am feeling down, finding something to be thankful for.

There are times when I literally was so depressed I couldn't see myself ever in the future being happy. Hard to explain, it was like the feeling that no matter what life was like for me in the future I would be depressed. What pulled me out was the thought that even if I can't contribute to my own happiness, maybe I can still love someone else and contribute positively to their life.

After all, Jesus said the number 1 command was to love God, love others as we love ourselves. So I am learning to intentionally love myself, love others, love God, be thankful everyday even when things feel miserable to look at the positive.

I still have down swings and thankfully I have a group of people who know me well enough to tell when my upswings are getting dangerous, but I genuinely love life most days and the downswings aren't as debilitating. Went a little off topic, but thanks to anyone who read this.

Your way of explaining everything in this piece of writing is really nice, all can effortlessly know it, Thanks a lot.

Im very good at losing jobs and alienating everyone i love. i also excel at forgetting shit and losing things. Last but not least i know how to scare the shit out people without even trying.

So important to remind yourself of the upsides to being bipolar. I’m in a down cycle now, and searched the web for positive sides of being bipolar. I know these are just a few. I’m not sure about empathy part, and if that holds true for all. I lack tolerance for ignorance, and it moves me to teach or preach for that matter about things that are true for me. Placing and end to the stigma attached. I’m a very logical thinker naturally and the diagnosis, only defined or stamped a label to my adaption to the many ways my brain’s processes information, people, emotions and surroundings. More than creative. More than anything I analyze things better than the next person. I notice things about people that takes most years to figure out. Bipolar has been a gift to me and others in some ways.

I think it's all about ur fitness if u think ur uti means stomach being better u don't have any problem and I want to share one things seriously when I start my namaz I didn't get any problem in my life.

I have had bipolar for a while, since I was 12 i was diagnosed.

im also diagnosed with bipolar.. can anyone tell what bipolar actually is and what happens to a person when he is diagnosed with bipolar.. plz

I'm diagnosed bipolar but living even better than before!
bipolar made me a man. When i face a chalenge i feel no worry just go through it and it's done. Because i went through the ups and downs hence have experience.
Just this dosnt mean it's all good, but think about it life is tuff you need to have the emotional experience to pass through the tests you face.

my experience started when my wife cheated on me i started a manic episode. Which is strange because by common sense i should be depressed. My family saw my behaivior changed i was a comedian poping jokes i felt stream of info going through my mind...

Not enough of the positive. I've recently realized (age 28) I'm bipolar; watching a documentary like "that's me! you mean other people don't operate that way?"
I'm high functioning - built a top practice as an investment advisor, am a published poet/author, teach, etc. I'm now building something that's changing the industry. The BP just explains why I've been able to accomplish 7millionX as much as other people and why my ideas seem to have been always out of the box. Why I can stay up for days just stoked on my projects or why I fall in love so much harder than anyone else. Years ago, I started training my brain to recover from negative thoughts (breaking the cycle) but had NO idea that my super up cycles (emails to my girlfriends showering them with love & positivity) were paired with super down cycles (not being able to finish the tasks I'd set for myself, not showering for days...) in a BP way. Since starting my research, all the lists are about how to cope and why it's so horrible. I think BP is just another way to function: I'm lucky I don't often find it debilitating but as everyone else said, BP helps me get real good at picking myself and dusting myself off. (And this all coming out of one my most intense depressions to date)

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