Stigma Surrounding Bipolar Disorder

I recently realized that many people have the wrong impression of Bipolar Disorder.  It is often seen as an excuse or even a lie on one side of the spectrum,  and on the other it terrifies people into believing that no one is safe around someone Bipolar.

My sister-in-law helped me to realize this when my husband told her that we don’t plan to have children of our own.  She got angry with him and said “Yeah,  your wife would probably just go all Bipolar and drown them in the tub.”

Now for those of you familiar with psychology or law this might ring a bell.  Andrea Yates drowned her five children in their tub.  However,  it was more due to postpartum psychosis than Bipolar Disorder.  Either way I consider what my sister-in-law said to be highly uncalled for.

I’m now on medication that helps me keep my moods in check,  but I went for nearly five years without it.  Partly because of my own concerns about it,  but largely because of how my controlling boyfriend (now ex)  felt about all pills,  but especially anti depressants.  If anyone has doubts about medication they should talk to their doctor,  but I’m also willing to discuss the pros and cons that I have personally experienced since starting my medication.

Now back to topic.  I’ve felt the stigma surrounding Bipolar Disorder in my family,  amongst friends,  classmates and even my old college roommate.  People tend to draw back when they find out I’m “mentally unstable.” You can see the gears going in their heads as they start to wonder how safe I am to be around.

It is my belief that I and others like me ought to do our best to combat this stigma with honesty.  Yes,  Bipolar disorder is an incredibly difficult thing to live with,  but we’re letting it get the best of us and hide us in a corner when we allow it to scare people away.   Sometimes nothing can be done,  but often opportunities for enlightenment surround us every day.

When you hear someone talking down or assuming something untrue about Bipolar disorder or any other disorder for that matter, politely correct them.

Ignorance keeps us in dark corners.  Truth sheds light,  one person at a time.



I think one of the most important things I’ve learned in life is that variety is important. I don’t mean that having certain constants in life are bad. I myself enjoy schedules, lists, and being able to count on certain things each day. What I mean is it’s important not to get so stuck in a tradition or schedule that it’s not enjoyable anymore.

One example from my life is reading. No, I’ve never not enjoyed reading, but my reading was lacking in variety and it made each book a little less of an escape and a little less of a learning experience. I was saved by professors reminding me that a librarian should not only be well-read but well-rounded in their reading. In my classes there is a ton of required reading, thankfully much of it is fiction, and this led to added variety for me. I had never read a graphic novel, and now I’ve read around fifteen in the last few months. I had read very few children’s books, and now I’ve read over one hundred. I had never read a book about a trans character, and now I have a shelf specifically for LGBTQ fiction. Variety allows the mind to fully absorb what it is seeing and apply it. For me adding variety into my reading was a step toward recognizing that unexpected change isn’t such a bad thing.

I’ve always loved changed when it was something I could see coming, and if it was a big change that allowed me time to get used to it afterward. However, in my adult life I have tended to hate small changes in my day to day plan. Any detours could send me over the edge straight into panic. Part of this was having Bipolar disorder, but another contributing factor was that I didn’t know how to let go. Having a husband who is definitely type B has helped me to breathe, calm down, and accept change as it comes. It wasn’t easy, and I still have flare-ups if I’m stressed, but in general I laugh more and I have the ability to be spontaneous. Variety is not the enemy, change doesn’t have to be negative, and today can have as many possibilities as tomorrow.