Author: Sarah Ross
Bipolar Disorder is a complex mental illness, and it often gets categorized into solely consisting of sudden mood changes. But it’s not as black and white as that.
Although we do experience mood changes, our days don’t involve our emotions going up and down drastically, from one minute to the next. Our mood changes last a period of time, which is what helps to diagnose someone having Bipolar Disorder in the first place.
People living with Bipolar actively work hard to achieve their sense of stability. It involves constantly learning about what triggers you and what you can do to alleviate the symptoms of a depressive or manic episode, especially before it spirals out of control.
When people make jokes or refer to sudden changes as “Bipolar”, they are categorizing all people living with Bipolar as unstable and not able to regulate our emotions.
By saying this, people are furthering and endorsing the isolating stigma around mental illness. There are people that take much longer than others to accept their diagnosis and receive proper treatment. It is a hard thing to accept that you are going to live with Bipolar for the rest of your life, especially when people are making inappropriate language.
But this doesn’t mean they will never seek treatment. It means there isn’t a straight road to receiving treatment, and people can take a lot of wrong turns before they end up in the right place. I know I did.
The International Bipolar Foundation shared a recent survey that said 81% of Bipolar 1 patients reported that they felt like no one understands what they are going through. I felt that to my core. Even though Bipolar patients are aware of how many others in the world have the same diagnosis, we still struggle with a deep sense of loneliness.
That loneliness can increase within someone every time they hear someone make a joke about Bipolar Disorder. The more people miscategorize Bipolar patients, the more they will feel misunderstood and the stigma continues.
But together, we can fight the stigma, promote acceptance, share experiences, and spread accurate information. We are Bipolar Together, so join us this #WorldBipolarDay!