Bipolar: Are You Hiding?

Hi,

I had a disturbing conversation the other day that I wanted to tell you about. I was at a support group meeting (you know I volunteer at a lot of them in different places), and a girl came up to me after the meeting and we started talking. She said that she’s afraid to make any plans or do anything or go anywhere. I asked her why. She said that she was afraid of having an episode. I told her that most people with bipolar disorder only have only one or two episodes a year. She said, “Yes, but I never know when that episode is going to happen.” I tried to tell her that hiding out, not doing anything or making any plans wasn’t going to help her or her disorder. She seemed to get defensive, and I didn’t want her to get mad at me, but I still thought she should know more.

I said, “You need to learn more about bipolar disorder. It might help you.” I guess she got mad at me anyway, because she just walked away. But I didn’t think I did anything wrong. I think she just didn’t know enough about bipolar disorder to understand that staying home hiding from the rest of the world can actually HURT you and can make your disorder worse! To say nothing about how frustrating it can be to your supporter and your relationship with them.

You just can’t live in fear of when the next episode is going to strike. If you’re managing your

disorder right, then you should have no fear. I really didn’t mean to offend this girl, but maybe she just didn’t understand what I was trying to say, or maybe I just said it the wrong way. If so, I’m sorry. But I really don’t want people with bipolar disorder to be misinformed. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I started bipolarcentral.com and started doing things like this blog. want people to have the best information possible.

Hiding out at home, not doing things outside the home, not going anywhere, not doing anything enjoyable, and living with the fear of when the next episode is going to strike is like living in a

bipolar prison. It’s like waiting to die! And bipolar disorder is NOT a life sentence! So many people are living quite normal lives even though they have bipolar disorder. That’s what I really wanted to tell this girl. Figure it this way: Say you or your loved one didn’t have bipolar disorder. But you know that flu season comes around every year, right? So you probably do the smart thing and get your yearly flu shot, like most people. But do you live the rest of the year in fear of getting the flu? Does it keep you hiding inside, afraid to go outside? Does it keep you from having a normal social life? Does it keep you from seeing friends and family? Does it keep you from doing the things you enjoy? Does it keep you from making plans? Does it keep you bound up in fear? That’s the main question.

No one ever said that you or your loved one won’t have another episode. You/they probably

will, in fact. But if you’re doing the things you need to do to manage the disorder, there’s no reason that you should not expect to live a normal, healthy, successful, productive life despite the fact that you or they have bipolar disorder. Many, many people do. They don’t live in fear of the disorder, and they don’t let it control their lives. They don’t hide from the disorder, but they don’t let it make them hide from the rest of the world, either. If they did, they would isolate at home, and isolation is a trigger to depression, and depression to a bipolar depressive episode. And you don’t want that, do you?

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,

 

Dave

 

  1. I have lived with bipolar disorder for over 15 years now, but was out of my very small home island most of that time. Unfortunately I have been back in the Caribbean for almost three years now and I have discovered that peoples attitude to any mental illness is instinctively fear or ridicule.

    I lived a normal life up to this point and had made peace with my bipolar years ago. But where I live now people with mental illness are demonized, victimized, demoralized and essentially dehumanized. My family and the few friends I have who are aware of my condition insists That I must ensure it remains a secret.

    Seeing the way people with mental illness are treated here is really upsetting to me, so much so that I have constant nightmares and have withdrawn myself from all social obligations. I go to work and home and live in constant fear that what I see happening to other mentally ill people will happen to me.

    It is very difficult to come to terms with having a mental disorder and almost impossible to continue to form relationships or socialize when you are fearful of the reaction of the people around you once they find out the truth.

  2. Hi Dave
    I can understand that this girl might be afraid of her future with bipolar. She may have just come through the consequences of a episode and I know there can be a lot of confusion,shame and fear to overcome. BUT I think you said the right thing. Knowledge about your health problem can really help your future and of course taking the proper actions to maintain your health…..like taking the advise of a good doctor and finding out what works best for you. I have a family member who has bipolar and we can all see when an episode is coming…he doesn’t take care of his bipolar ……but if he did I know he would have a much happier and fulfilling life. We cannot live in fear…..there is so much wonderful life to be lived and the world would miss our contributions.this is my advice ….read some books talk to a councillor and take back your life. I know you can do it.

  3. Iagree with you about bipolar sufferers living productive active life but when it comes to gettin job, how easy is it for bipolar sufferers and whare the stakes?

  4. Dave, I suffer from Bipolar Disorder and I choose not to do things. All I want is for people to leave me alone. My husband doesn’t understand and I’m sure he will walk away one day. But I’m alright with myself, my dog. It keeps me from telling people how i truly feel about them. I have a husband who wants to tell me what to say, and do so I only do what I want. which is nothing. I take my meds, and I write books, it’s enough when nothing you do is good enough. Do I worry about an episode no for I feel i’m alway’s in one.The few things I can control is being by myself,so thats the way it is. This is my life.Sad as it may be.

  5. Dave, I suffer from Rapid Cycling Bipolar and this can lead to me not wanting to go out on my own. I do try to go out on my own but I would rather be with someone as the paranoia can be bad. So I do understand where this girl is coming from. However, I do think you are correct as it is like committing yourself to a death sentance if you always stay at home. Knowledge about the type of bipolar may help this girl to overcome her fears. It is difficult to overcome the “stigma” of having a mental illness but in time it gets easier or so I have found. I too am now looking for work as I have just been made reduntant after 15 years and I am pretty convinced it was my having bipolar that caused this. I am not sure how easy it will be to get another job ? What are others thoughts on this topic?

  6. Dear Dave,
    I don’t usually respond, but do read alot of your posts about bipolar. My son, Daniel, 37, has bipolar one. He has been having more frequent episodes brought on by medications. I strugggled for past 6 years, but finally was able to see my son granted disability. After going without my needs for most of those 6 years, it is now time where Daniel can receive medical help. He has discovered the world of ‘healthcare providers’! He needs help, of course, and he needs medications, but it is the way he takes his medications that causes bipolar attacks. A few years back, I wrote to you, explaining that my son was beaten and raped, that he was not only suffering with bipolar, but with post traumatic stress disorder. The ability to cope with what happened in past, has no more improved today, than 2007, when I flew to another state, outside of Ca. to bring Daniel home. He has been seen by M.D.’S psychiatrist, psychologist, and is approved for family therapist[12] visits, but missed his first appointment today, for the third time. For past 3 months, Daniel has been self medicating with pain relief, and Benzodiazepenes. Please excuse any mispelling of words, it isn’t that I am lazy to correct, but my energy level is very low, at this time, since I battle with Fibromyalgia and MS. I have multiple chronic health issues, on hold, because Daniel and my mother, 78, who is bed ridden, needs my constant care. I was able to make appt. with doctor, friday, for leg problems, I had one hour before offices close for the day, and I utilized that hour to research who I could see for the type of pain I have in legs. Both feet are in constant agony, sharp stabbing/ burning pain, that persists all day and wakes me in the middle of night. I have pinched nerve on left side of neck, that I was told is, ‘Incredibly high, more so than what is normal area for pinched nerve to be, and that this problem will only get worse! I have lower abdomen cramping, daily, following hysterectomy/ bladder repair. I now have to get checked to see if the’mesh’ lawsuit product that is advertised on television, is possibly the culprit causing my pain in pelvic region. I receive trigger point injections, in neck, back, legs, and have not had any in 3 months due to lack of time. For past several months, like I mentioned above, Daniel has been in rapid cycling mode. I am not, ‘hiding’, but I do wish I could get some sort of relief with my mother, and son. Both of these people have decided to alienate the little family there is left, that could have been at very least, company for them both! I feel the burden of being, ‘the only person’ each has to speak with, and this is yet another form of hardship to bear! Both my mother and son, have used the fact that I am an ’empath’ or ‘sensitive’, to take a bit of advantage of me. There are times, or things that they both can do, for themselves, but expect me to do. There has been cries for pain relief to point where I have been suffering in that area too. I am at a loss as to what to do, for the long term. In meantime, I become more ill, more in need of even a lttle bit of time for myself. It has been overwhelming, as if the weight of both these two people whom I love, is causing me to fall apart. They both, no longer see me as a person who struggles to help them, but as someone who is denying them more and more! Thank You, Dave, for allowing me a space to speak of, what is inside me. I continue to pray, hoping that I will be able to see the difference between helping and co dependency. There is such a fine line between the two roles. Sincerely, Terry at terryrumsey@msn.com

  7. Friend,

    some things take time – it’s like discovering your true identity (ancestry.com) after so many years of living as whomever you thought you were and a delay in saying Thank You (to many missed “signs” of help instead of what you once thought were reasons to ask “Why”.

    Sometimes instead of Asking a Boyfriend over a lunch date, why? we should be running up and down the streets saying Thank YOu as if we won a major lottery for the constant goodness that keeps happening in our lives.

    We (meaning My Brother made that discovery after much gardening) how some of the best things in life are so well hidden.

    A Thank You Message instead of a “Sorry” note. look for sign

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