Hi, how’s it going? Hope you are doing well.
I just received an email from a woman who was not happy. She told me about how she got diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and her struggles dealing with it. Then she told me that her long-term boyfriend said something recently that really offended her. He said, “I don’t think you’re bipolar because you don’t act crazy like some of the people we’ve met who are bipolar.”
Wow. Isn’t that quite a statement? I can see where she would be offended. After all this time that he was supposed to be there through her struggles, and he wasn’t even paying attention. She asked me how she should respond to this. Well, that’s not the easiest thing to answer, but I’ll fill you all in on what I think would be best in a situation like that.
To start off with, address your hurt. Let them know that it hurt you for them to say that, and let them know why. This might sound something like: “I really wish you wouldn’t have just said that to me – it really hurt my feelings. Now I feel like you haven’t been paying attention to all the struggles that I’ve gone through with this.”
Try to use “I statements” whenever you can, because them getting defensive isn’t going to help you get your point across any better. Then, depending on how they react, you can choose your actions from there.
Ideally, they’ll realize that they worded it poorly and let you know that it came out wrong. If that’s the case, then you might have solved the entire problem already. I would suggest still sitting down to talk about what they do see of your struggles, just to make sure you are both on the same page.
If, on the other hand, they continue with their original point, and are not willing to see that they hurt you (or why they hurt you), then you will have to make it more obvious to them. At that point tell them about the struggles that you’ve had, and that you’re working your way through it. Tell them that it’s disappointing that they should be seeing this from the outside.
But then, I want you to realize something. And once you’ve realized this, you can tell them as well. Yes, it’s sad that they are seeing things from the outside looking in, instead of from the inside helping you out. But if they must be on the outside, then at least they see your more “normal” side first. If they aren’t going to know you as well as they should, at least they don’t immediately think that you’re crazy.
It’s hard, because it’s coming from someone who is supposed to be close to you, but if you think about it, that is exactly how you would want an outsider to see you. That means you’re doing something right. Unfortunately, it still means that they’re doing something wrong.
But you can tell them, that while you’re disappointed that they haven’t been as close to your situation as you had thought that they were, at least you are recovering well enough that you don’t appear to be “crazy.” They shouldn’t be able to argue the fact that not looking crazy is a good thing.
So maybe it will help them to see the struggles that you have been going through. If not, you may need to reevaluate your relationship with them. This doesn’t necessarily mean to stop talking to them altogether. But if they aren’t going to be as close to you as you had thought, then you need to be aware of that for the future.
I hope this helps. Any other suggestions?
Well, I have to go!