What Not to Say
Bipolar disorder can be hard enough to cope with as it is, but with some of the statements and questions that can be thrown at you at times, it can become even more of a battle.
Below is a list of some of the examples I’ve come across in my time since going public with my diagnosis. They range from the insulting to the almost amusing, and hopefully will give you some insight into how to cope with these sorts of comments or questions, or at least make you feel that you are not alone.
Are you Bipolar?
One of the most common mistakes that someone can make for me is the phrase ‘are you bipolar’. Yes, I have bipolar, but it is not what I am. You would not say to someone ‘are you diabetes’, so why is a mental illness any different? In this case I normally smile politely at the linguistic slip up, and try and correct them politely.
I'm a Bit Bipolar
For everyone who has been diagnosed with bipolar, I am sure the phrase ‘I’m a bit bipolar’ will have been heard before. It is of human nature that everyone has mood swings – we all have bad days, and we all have moments of impulse spending etc. but this does not equal a full diagnosis of bipolar. Spending your entire student loan in three days and thinking you are a member of Mensa, however, is more likely to indicate something might be wrong.
Do you Think I Might Have it?
Following on from this, one of the questions I get asked most frequently is ‘do you think I might have it?’ now whilst I look rather fetching in a white coat, I am not a doctor and nor do I pretend to be. I always advise people that if they feel there might be something wrong with their mental health, that they should seek medical intervention as soon as possible.
You're just like 'So-and-so!'
Celebrity comparisons! Now whilst I’d love to have the wit, intelligence, and humour of Stephen Fry, I sadly do not. Neither can I compose symphonies like Tchaikovsky, paint masterpieces like Munch, or write as wonderfully as Woolf (sadly). So I often have to explain to people that whilst there is a link between creativity and bipolar disorder, this is not necessarily true for everyone with the diagnosis.