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!