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30 Things Not To Say To Those With Bipolar Disorder

I always enjoy reading “listicles” about “what not to say” and “what to say” to someone with a mental illness. I read them and nod my head in agreement, as I can relate all too well. There are sayings or comments that may seem helpful, but aren’t in reality because they inadvertently minimize our thoughts and feelings or may make us feel even more anxious. I devised my own list and wanted to share it.

Here is my list, in no particular order:

1. “Everyone has something.” 

2. “You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.”

3. “You always look for an excuse.”

4. “How are you managing?” (And other loaded questions).

5. “Be nice.”

6. “Calm down.”

7. “I’m not very happy with you right now.”

8. “Why can’t you just be happy?”

9. “You have every reason to be happy.”

10. “What happened now?”

11. “Why?”

12. “Why can’t you have one day where you feel good?”

13. “You’ve been like this for so long.”

14. “Maybe you need to change your medications.”

15. “Maybe your medications aren’t working anymore.”

16. “You should discuss this with your doctor.”

17. “What does your doctor have to say about this?”

18. “What did your doctor say?”

19. “You should exercise.”

20. “I’ll motivate you.”

21. “Don’t be lazy.”

22. “Everyone has stress.”

23. “Stop making excuses.”

24. “You’re making yourself anxious.”

25. “Stop anticipating.”

26. “You’re making yourself nervous.”

27. “Why can’t you make a decision?”

28. “So-and-so said it would be nice to see you.”

29. “Don’t worry about it.”

30. “Everything’s going to be okay.”

To add some context to some items on the list, being indecisive is as frustrating for me as it is for my family and friends. It’s hard to make a decision because I am sitting there weighing the pros and cons of each choice and get lost in the process.

I don’t want my anxiety to be seen as an excuse to get out of events. Believe me, it’s no joy ride experiencing panic attacks and being afraid to leave your house because you are anxious. If someone cannot attend an event because of how they feel, it shouldn’t matter if it is as a result of a physical illness, physical injury or due to anxiety or depression. We should put mental illness and physical illness on equal planes.

I am not making myself anxious. I can’t predict when I am going to become anxious. I likely won’t believe someone who tells me everything is going to be okay because I am a realist and I will just ask, “How do you know?”, even though I know that anxiety-free periods do exist. I just don’t like trite sayings.

I’ll end on this note: happiness, acceptance and recovery are all journeys. I can’t answer why I am not happy all the time, why I keep having panic attacks or experience depression even though it’s the summer or why all the “why’s.” What I do know is that it’s my journey and I have to own it.

To read more from Melanie, check out the rest of her blogs for IBPF, her blogs for Healthy Minds Canada, or visit her personal blog at PS I'm Bipolar. 

Comments

I'm not a violent or overly aggressive person, but the next person, and any who dare afterwards, that begins a sentence with,
"Do you know what you should do....."
Are very likely to receive a slap in the face.
Either metaphorically or actually.
Well meaning or not, this instantly boils my blood.
People need to realise I'm trying, every minute of every day I'm trying to do what I need to do.
Saying this is a slap in the face to all of my efforts.

My two favorite comments, and I just cant tell you enough how much I enjoy them, are "have you taken your medication?" and "Slow down! You are talking too fast!"

Sick of people teling me to get over it and to toughen up, do they understand my head or how and what and when it think s what it thinks NO SO UNTIL THEY they get all the facts, they need to TO TOUGHEN UP AND SHUT THE FUK UP , everyone copesd differently with things in life and when a person has a mental illness that have an e extra fuk d up need to also add on to the deal ing with on something , it's a fuk d up daily battle and when u have some one who is meant to be be ur side telling u to toughten up and just get over something All because that day they've had enough, enough of u and ur so called strangeness and inability to deal with things or simply get over things as they want "or can" and do, people nee'd to be there all time or not at all because when ur supporting some one like this u can't just have a day off and think that it's gonna be OK the next cause If'd that person is a weak patch this little inability to understand can have disaster est affects

My over the edge line is”let it go”

My daughter has this bipolar, never know how she is going to react to what I say. Her husband has also suffered at her mercy. Bless his heart, they are know separate for like the fourth time. She is not talking me now, by blaming me for something someone else did or said. Will say I love you back to me. This so hard to understand and hurtful. I deal with alot of family issues as a caregiver.this drama she involves me in is making me want to break.I love her but don't know how to respond, other than to except the blame in order to get along with her. Anyone have a answer?

This is a good list, educational and informative. I do believe a good idea would be to include a list of things to say as an alternative to what is on the list. Not everyone is great at dealing with bi-polar, I am not great, but I seek to get better. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

When they sarcastically "Did you take your meds"?

When someone says "Man up and deal with it, everyone gets depressed" I want to say something along the lines of "If you had the flu, would you like it if I told you to 'shake it off'? :^)

I just want to add ,someone who is suppose be my friend n concerned ,says, you need to read ths such n such book it will help you ,ive read ths book thy say ,,my response ,,im not a book ok im a person,dnt compare me with book person writting book is not me. So thy dnt no my mind ,book r wriiten to help yes but at ths moment dnt ,book me ,understand me ,is wht i say ,im not crazy or aggressive but can be pushed to be ,sad to be in the dark n drowning,confused n scared to point of dying , people should try to understand ,,,i dnt choose to be like ths ,or nor i pick a time ,it just comes,how am i to no ,,Thank You

My wife has bipolar it's so hard to be upbeat
30 things not to say I'm so very guilty of every one of them.
Still learning.
I LOVE her so much.
JUST WOULD give anything for her to be happy.
The thing is when it's good it's AWESOME.
TRYING HARDER.

All of these are the flashbacks of my past, when I was depressed. I know that people around me were just try to make me feel better but they should thing before they speak. Because their words were only making me more upset. Anyway thanks so much for this post.

For someone with bipolar, it annoys me when people ask what they can do to help because I never know, and why I'm feeling this way

People try to give me advice saying “everyone on this planet has their struggles” and I’m like, you have no idea.

My parents were the worst though. Sometimes I’d cry hysterically and vent about how I hate my illness and they’d say “you can choose to wallow in self-pity or get a grip and fix your life”. Ot better yet, accuse me of forgetting to take my medication every time I got into a disagreement with them, no matter how minor.

People don’t seem to realize how badly their ignorance affects those with severe illnesses. I wish this article was stapled to my forehead..

People try to give me advice saying “everyone on this planet has their struggles” and I’m like, you have no idea.

My parents were the worst though. Sometimes I’d cry hysterically and vent about how I hate my illness and they’d say “you can choose to wallow in self-pity or get a grip and fix your life”. Ot better yet, accuse me of forgetting to take my medication every time I got into a disagreement with them, no matter how minor.

People don’t seem to realize how badly their ignorance affects those with severe illnesses. I wish this article was stapled to my forehead..

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