Bipolar? Best Case/Worst Case – Which Are You?


How’s it going today?

I want to start by defending myself about something.

I am not an eavesdropper.

No, I’m really not.

But I’m out a lot, I go different places, like to get something to eat,
or to go work out at the gym, or to volunteer, or to the library, or wherever, but I do go a lot of places.

And I hear a lot of things.

I don’t mean to, but I still do.

And there are a lot of negative people in this world, let me tell you!

But there are also some positive people, too.

So I’ve “overheard” someone say, “It was the worst case of the flu I’ve ever
had in my whole life!”

But I’ve also overheard someone else (about something totally different) say,
“It’s the best case of making something out of nothing that I’ve ever seen!”

Two different people. Two different situations. Best case. Worst case.
That’s what I overheard.

But it made me think of bipolar disorder. (Doesn’t everything? : )

It’s about attitude toward your situation.

You can look at things in a “best case” scenario or a “worst case” scenario.

For example, think of a worst case scenario, like:

My loved one could:

Quit their job

Scream, yell, holler

Go into an episode

Stop their medications


Now, I am all for having plans for bad situations and being prepared…

BUT you should also create a best case scenario.

Take my mom, for example.

I would have only thought she would keep running up deb.t, stay out of control,
bankrupt the family, create huge problems for everyone, etc.

But then I thought of the best case scenario:

She would get out of, get stable, get and keep a job, have friends, master her
bipolar disorder, etc.

Now, which is the better way to think?

In my courses/systems, I talk about negative and positive attitudes, and how important it
is to have a positive attitude. If I had given up on my mom, I don’t know if she ever
would have reached stability and be doing as good as she is today.





I have a friend whose husband has bipolar disorder, and she does it this way:

She takes her two hands and cups them, palms up.

It’s kind of like a game.

She calls it, “On the one hand, and on the other hand.”

So, let’s take the examples I used before.

She would hold her one cupped hand up and say:

“On the one hand, my husband could lose his job.”

Then she would lift up her other cupped hand and say, “On the other hand, he could get another
job, collect unemployment, start his own business, go on disability, or I could get a job.”

See? Right there she came up with 5 good “best case” scenarios out of that one “worst
case” scenario!

Let’s look at another one:

“On the one hand, my husband could scream, yell, and holler at me.”

“On the other hand, I could scream, yell, and holler right back at him, or try to
calm him down and say that he’s an adult and shouldn’t act like that, or tell him that
his behavior is unacceptable, or tell him that I understand that he’s angry and can
we talk about it calmly?”

Again, for the one “worst case” scenario, she’s come up with 4 “best case” scenarios.

Now, here’s one of the worst “worst case” scenarios that supporters worry about:

“On the one hand, my husband could stop taking his medications, go into an episode, bankrupt our finances, and end up in jail.”

And here’s one of the best “best case” scenarios of all:

“On the other hand, we can make sure that
he has a good doctor, psychiatrist, and therapist,
that he sticks to his treatment plan, I can help
him make sure that he takes his medications,
and we can both watch for triggers, signs and
symptoms so that he won’t go into an episode,
I can handle all the finances, including the
checking account and holding all the c.redit cards,
and together we can manage his bipolar disorder
so that he stays stable and manages his bipolar
disorder well.”

Now, THAT’S a plan for stability!

SIX “best case” scenarios right there.

So now when your mind slips to the negative, allow yourself to create a most negative case
scenario AND a best case scenario, whether you use the “On the one hand and on the
other hand” technique or one of your own, and compare the two.

Some people even write them down and compare them.

See which is more likely.

Then ask, how can I turn my negative scenario to a “best case” one?

What about you?

How would you do it?

Or if you already have a technique, what is yours?

David Oliver is the author of the shocking guide “Bipolar Disorder—The REAL Silent Killer.” Click Here to get FREE Information sent via email on how and why bipolar disorder kills.

  1. My husband had bipolar type 2.

    He was diagnosed right around our 2nd annivesory, & we’ve been struggling since then (november of 07) & he’s been on ssdi since.

    He’s trying so hard to get stable, but he spiraling out of control. He was in the hospital 2 weeks ago because he was suicidal. When he got out he was angry with me all the time & became so distant with me.

    He told me a few nights ago that he wants to leave & get better on his own, that he’s not in love with & he doesn’t know if he’s coming back.

    He’s leaving tomorrow to stay with his dad (whom is also bipoal) for awhile.

    I don’t know what to do, how to help him, & how to keep everything together.

    No matter how much of my self I give, how much I do or what I say it never seems to help.

    I’ve cried everyday since he left for the hospital. I don’t want to lose him & I’m afraid that when he leaves he won’t come back.

    I can see our future together so clearly & it kills me that he allows himself to get overwhelmed & just gives up.

    I need help.

  2. I normally am a big fan of your advice and emails. You talked in this one about your friend who just using the on one hand game. Have you truly ever tried to say to a bipolar person, “you are an adult and should act like one”? Or “we should talk about this calmly”? You can’t say that to them without being attacked. You can’t rationalize with them if they have decided that they are going to argue with you! They don’t HEAR that! I have been there with my mom (now deceased) and now my 22 year old daughter. You can’t respond… you can’t walk away because they will follow you. It is very difficult to disengage with them when they want to argue!

  3. Hello David,
    I wonder whether this email will actually get to you?
    You have been writing to me for a long time now and I have once previously tried to write back to you.
    No I do not have bi-polar disorder myself,( I am pleased to say) and do not know anyone else diagnosed with it, although I have a daughter and a friend who other people have suggested possibly do.
    Let’s take the friend – who is 18 years younger than me. (I am 70 ). I was staying with him in his house purely because I had been divorced at age 55, over my bird collection and interests and the friend had similar interests and allowed me to continue with them and keep the birds with me.
    However, having become very ill physically, he felt so depressed that his whole personality changed and then a year ago, he attacked me in front of friends in the house and threw me out and then with-held all my possessions from me. I have spent the year homeless , roughing it which was not good at my age and also with me being disabled.
    Although he now talks to me and I now have a Council flat and most of my belongings (which were retrieved by friends after the Police and solicitors that I paid for got involved ), his behaviour is still weird. He collects endless things and spends loads of money. I am told his house is a total mess inside. A nurse once suggested to me that he might be suffering from bi-polar disorder.
    My daughter becomes physically violent to everybody and says that everyone else is mentally ill. She is trying to get her husband assessed as autistic. He works as a structural engineer(!) I stayed with her while I was homeless and slept in her kitchen on my bed that was put in there. She moaned and complained about everything – if I sat on the settee, or put something on the table, or put the washing up in the wrong place. My other daughter and husband were also staying with her, which although very difficult was a wonderful opportunity for the whole family to be together, but she told us that we were causing her own daughter to fail in her school studies. I am a teacher , but she refused to allow me to help her daughter with her homework. One day she went ‘crazy’ and was rushing round the house slamming doors and throwing things and shouting and I left before she hit me, as she used to when younger. My younger daughter and her husband moved out the next day too.
    This daughter has been going to therapy to help her cope with all the difficult people around her, because she considers there is something wrong with them all.
    So David, I find it interesting to read your wise advice about bi-polar disorder. I wish my daughter would see a doctor about herself and get a proper diagnosis and also my friend that he would continue with the treatment he used to receive and now considers he no longer needs.
    Thank you.

  4. I would be lost with out Dave’s column.My son is 17 and bipolar and we had to home school because of it and his other health issues as well.He has had a girlfriend for a year they love each other and he’s going to move out and live with her.My son is very unstable mental and physically and i have tried talking to them and needless to say iam getting no where fast with this and anyone with advise i would love to hear from.

  5. Dave,
    I totally agree with Patti.When there mad at you there isn’t no rationalizing.
    You just have to keep your mouth shut and don’t argue back,because if they are yelling and screaming at you you could get hit by them if you say the wrong thing.
    I am sorry but my spouse looks for reasons to get mad and you never know what he is going to accuse you of to get mad and run off some where and stay mad at you for days or months, when he does come home he sleeps in another room and totally ignors you as if you are not his wife.He safe medicates with street drugs and drinking..
    I have begged him to get help,he don’t want help..
    How do you live in this and not go insane yourself?
    To him I am the reason everything goes wrong and a reason to get drugged up and party all the time.
    How do you not give up in a person like this?
    I have done it 10 years.. He is nice some times for a few days but then back to being MAD-ANGERY most of the time..I have tried to let his actions roll off my back and just take care of me and the kids and let him do what he wants to but we fight about money,the kids and you name it..Its a issue between us, he acts like there is no wrong or right in any thing.He does everything the way he wants to no matter who or how it may effect those around him..He is the most selfish person I have ever seen in my life..
    Iam so tired of being mistreated and neglected,It is hard to take care of myself when I know my partner for life is spinning out of control and I can’t stop him.
    Every body has free will and God does allow us to make a choice, and if we fallow God plan for our life we have the right directions to go in, but if we chose not to allow God in our life and don’t care what is wrong or right.
    Dave how can medication or any Doctors help you..
    Im sorry for all my negitive stuff here but I have had the life sucked out of me by my Husband,kids Daddy,partner for life,lover,and once best friend..
    I’m really very down and out and I don’t think Dave you could understand this being it was your Mother you delt with not spouse which is very differant.

  6. I appreciate your insight David. thanks for sharing and taking time to do this for so many people

  7. Can’t be rational with an irrational person

    Can’t be reasonable with someone who is unreasonable.

  8. WOW – There is sooo much HEARTBREAK on this blog today! Merry – I feel for you. Your husband DOES sound VERY selfish, and I wonder HOW you’ve put up with him for so long. You must have the Patience of JOB. If you CAN get him to your family doctor (go with him), then a diagnosis can be made, and, hopefully, he will get medicated properly. By his “self medicating,” he is only making things worse – for him, AND for you.

    To ANITA: I’m soo sorry that at your age, you have faced homelessness and “parking” in someone else’s home (even though it was family). It sounds as if you’re living on your own, now, which should be more comfortable for you. Your daughter DOES need attention; I take it, you’re in Europe, so make an appointment with a psychiatrist to see her (go with her), and maybe a proper diagnosis can be made, and she WILL improve and be a happier person (and so will YOU!).

    To LINDA: I don’t really know WHAT to say about your son moving out of the house and getting married at 17. Is his girlfriend pregnant? Have a third-party intervene in his decision – a Social worker, perhaps – to enlighten him on how DIFFICULT this would be, and what pressures and stressors would be on him at such a young age.

    I TRY to be positive, but just found out I was overdrawn at the bank after the cashier had finished checking all my items. I was humiliated, but, when I got home, I was trying to figure out WHO could lend me $100? I don’t have many “rich” friends, but my “best friend,” who is 76, came to mind. I asked for $50 – and she volunteered $100!! Talk about a “worst case scenario” turning into a “best case scenario!” But – it DOES take some “brain power” to figure out what IS best in cases like this. All people with bipolar disorder have extraordinary “brain power” and CAN make good CHOICES. Just give yourself TIME to consider ALL your options as far as therapy is concerned – whether you want to stay in an episode, or be stable. Sometimes, it IS up to you.

    BIG HUGS to all bipolar survivors and those who love us. May God bless you real good. I pray for my country.

  9. My husband and I have been together for ten years. He has always had a mercurial short temper which can be triggered by anything or nothing at all (mostly being ‘let down’ – he’s very mistrustful. He has never been physically violent towards me, although is frequently verbally abusive which I either walk away from or calmly face him. I must admit sometimes to being drawn into the old ‘dance’ with him and responding angrily, but I can at least stick up for myself fortunately. For a long time we suspected he might be ADD/ADHD but we are both beginning to believe he might be Bi-Polar 2 since many of the signs are present. We recently watched an illuminating TV documentary: ‘Stephen Fry – The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive’ which I recommend to anyone seeking understanding (SF is a well-known English actor). Like Stephen Fry he has self-medicated for years (with marijuana and alcohol) but functions fairly well most of the time except when the depression is very bad. He is at his best when he is in the hypomanic phase, and for this reason he doesn’t WANT to be officially diagnosed, and put on medication to ‘manage’ his condition. He fears he might lose the upbeat feelings he enjoys then. He certainly is full of grandiose ideas and optimism, talking non-stop and not sleeping in the daytime which he does a great deal in the depressive phase. Despite the flood of ideas during this ‘up’ phase very few of them come to fruition as he loses momentum once the buoyant hypomania is over. My concern is (a)How do I convince him to see an appropriate psychiatrist for assessment? and (b)Do I have the right to try to change him? He is hard to live with in both scenarios – much more so during the depressions, but he just doesn’t want to leave the ‘devil he knows’ for the one he doesn’t. Paradoxically he strongly dislikes taking medications, despite his dependence on alcohol and ‘weed’ and this is one reason he uses to keep away from diagnosis. The simple fact is that no matter what strategies you try, until the person whose behaviour is causing concern and disrupting the lives of others actually chooses to seek help, it won’t happen. I shall keep on gently pushing, maintaining support that doesn’t damage me, and doing my best to keep him focussed on the quality of his (and my) life so he can reach a point where he is open to seeking help. I rather fear it will have to get a lot worse before that happens, but who knows – we might have a break-through if I don’t push too hard. Patience is the key. I love him and know he loves me, but he is easily overwhelmed by self-generated negativity too much of the time. WORST CASE SCENARIO: He continues to suffer crippling depression for the rest of his life. BEST CASE SCENARIO: He recognises that the upbeat stage is only transient and leads to little that’s positive; that with help he could eliminate much of the depression; and although he’d sacrifice the euphoria of the hypomania he would exchange it for overall better quality of life – his and ours.
    Thanks for listening! Vivien

  10. I have a 23-year-old bipolar son with a mental age of about 12, who is currently in a facility on a 5150. He has not been able to be reasoned with when he is irrational.

    My son had lived with his father, my former husband, for the past 13 years because he had greater health and physical strength and financial resources. I am physically disabled with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and lesions in the brain indicating multiple sclerosis. When my former husband remarried a woman with a child, I was overjoyed that my adult son would be coming back to live with me. I did all I could to help myself learn about bipolar disorder, autistic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, paranoia, and schizophrenia. It seemed like things were going quite well.

    This Friday morning was beautiful. The sun was shining. My son and I got into the truck. I was just backing out of the driveway.

    No sooner than the truck was in front of my home pointed down the street, a sudden . . . P-O-W !

    My son had just given me one sharp punch to the corner of my right cheek bone angled a bit upward.

    There had been no prior words, no arguments, only joy to take my son to his medical doctor’s appointment to learn the results of his medical tests, because he has smoked for the 13 years he has lived at his father’s. He was afraid that he had cancer from smoking so long. I had vowed to help him find out whatever is ailing him, and then help him get whatever medical care he needs.

    My upper part of my brain started to hurt, my eyes felt strange.

    Weeks before, friends and family had told me to get a digital tape recorder for my protection. I thought, “No way — this is my son, and he’s family.” However, across the weeks, his violent anger had escalated, and he had suddenly shoved me up against a door and placed his hands around my neck and stopped short of squeezing a few weeks ago which caused me to find a way to escape, drive to the police, consult on whether a 5150 was warranted, and one police officer followed me home, gently came into my son’s room, talked him into walking outside, called an ambulance, and then my son was taken to the county psychological assessment unit for a 3-day hold.

    I visited him every day, realized he had a combination of illnesses, and as he requested, brought him pizza and a root beer every night and had supper with him during the visiting hour.

    The facility gave him Abilify. He developed stomach problems and intestinal bleeding. It had to be discontinued.

    I did not feel safe bringing him home for days, and still, with the California state budget cuts and services being cut back, I was forced to bring him back home before he was stabilized. He was to comply with seeing his prior doctor and being followed. He was to keep his hands off me.

    As soon as my son arrived home, he did not fill his prescription for alternative medicines. He refused to visit the doctor he had been seeing when he was under his father’s care, which was a condition of his release. He broke every rule of my home the minute he returned home. He stayed up days and nights. He had ups and downs across the next two weeks. There was no reasoning with him. I was not safe in the house.

    For safety, and so my neighbors could hear me if I was in danger of my life being taken, I started spending the nights outside in a tent in the back yard. These were the most peaceful nights in the whole year that I have had my son back. I should have stayed in the tent the whole time. However, he did go outside to smoke, and only a few times came out to the tent and started to unzip it, and in a loud voice, I told him not to.

    I had to be very careful not to wear the wrong clothes, or to wear my hair the wrong way, because my son was not allowed to, but promised he would punch me if he disliked my clothing or hairstyle. His father before him was also bipolar, and had carried this out, so I had divorced him for my children’s and my safety; but I had no idea that this same trait has been imparted to our eldest son in the past 13 years.

    You cannot reason with a bipolar person.

    Even a soft answer does not always turn away wrath.

    Even silence does not always turn away wrath.

    After my son had given me that one sharp punch, my head started hurting, eyes feeling strange, and he was shouting obscenities, ranting, raving, and reading scriptures about the doctrine of “predestination” and “grace” that he tried to use to justify that he could do anything that he wanted to me without guilt because everything was covered by GOD’s love and “grace”, and because it would not happen unless GOD wanted it to happen, because he believed that everyting that happened was predestined, and thus, was GOD’s will any way. So, during his ranting and raving, I fumbled, searching deep within my bag for the brand new digital tape recorder that family and friends had pressed me to purchase. It took about 10 minutes of fumbling with one hand to find the recorder and get it started. I kept driving to the medical clinic. I told my son that my head hurt and that I was either going to the hospital or to drop him off on the appointment side, and then sign myself in on the “walk-ins” side to be seen sooner. When we arrived at the clinic, the counter was divided into 2 parts, and I did just what I told my son. While being triaged, I was asked how my cheek and head came to hurting so badly, and I told them that my son is mentally disabled, more like age 12 then age 23, had punched me, and immediately, they called the police, who came over, who unfortunately, because my son tried to run and then attack one of the officers, tackled my son, broke his cross necklace, handcuffed him, called an ambulance, and then had him taken off to the county’s 5150 72-hour psych assessment unit.

    The doctor sent me to the hospital x-ray department for x-rays, and scheduled for me to learn results on Monday.

    My son has now been in the assessment unit for almost 3 days come tomorrow morning, and then I will have to deal with telling him that I did not “rat him out”, and deal with the very likely further violence from his bipolar disorder.

    After my x-rays Friday, I went to the courthouse and purchased a packet for a conservatorship for my son, and another packet for a restraining order to be filled out and only signed and dated when the next violent act happens.

    The psych assessment unit said that it was way too premature to consider an institution or a group home for my son. That I had to go through at least three or four violent incidents and risk my life before they can even consider, under these budget crises situations, to put my son in a permanent institution or group home.

    No, I do not want to ever give up on him. I do love him. I cannot afford to be killed by him.

    No, you cannot reason with a bipolar person when he or she is in an episode.

    Even soft answers, and even silence and smiles can still be responded to with literally “knocking your block off.”

    My son has the ability and the power to switch his anger and his civility on-and-off, so even my ex-husband was warned about bring our son to the 5150 assessment unit too many times during his years with our son. But when our son is alone with us, he can switch from safe to dangerous in an instant.

    It was immediately after a roomer moved out to go to another city, that my son escalated his behavior, as if he knew that he could get by with much more after he was alone with me.

    The new, young, inexperienced psychiatrist who is not yet famliar with my son’s history thinks it is too premature to consider a conservatorship, a group home, an institution, and especially not a restraining order.

    I want to be my son’s best supporter possible, but I do not believe that any psychiatrist should force me to put my life in danger. Ethically, licensed professionals owe a reasonable duty of care, not only to their mental patients, but also to their patient’s family members, to help implement measures to keep all of them safe.

    When psychiatrists themselves do not seem to be able to reason, it ultimately has to be up to the family member to do what is necessary to get conservatorships and even restraining orders, to save their lives.

  11. Dave;
    More than once you have sent me a “Free trial” of how to be successful with BP.
    It however is NOT Free?
    ALL I know with BP who are HUGLY Successful, have either NEVER been “treated.” By AN psychiatrist, yes they are NON “medicated” Whole Humans.
    The others have SLOWLY Weaned themselves off “medication.”
    The exact oppisite of what you & yours PREACH.
    Do you know for one Dan Fisher?
    The Debate Davo?

  12. I totally agree I have done most of the things you talk about,but now that Iam stable Iam able to think of the hurt I have caused my husband and stay calm by walking away or going to pray. This has helped me manage my behavior and not get upset,which only makes things worst, as I said before my husband doesn’t believe Bipolar is a real mental illness, just an excuse to do what I want and this hurts alot, When I was depressed for a decade he believed that.But now that I have changed,take pride in my apprerance and have self esteem and my own views,he can’t handle it.But I stay postive and focus on the good things that have made me into a happy person who takes one day at a time.So thanks for the article. Like I said Bipolar has changed my life for the better.

  13. Hello David,

    A very wonderful day to you!! I have twentyfour (24) diseases, conditions and disorders, however, bipolar isn’t one of them. I have two (2) step-grandchildren who suffer from this, and their family tree is FILLED with mental illnes of all kinds.

    The road was very rocky with the oldest child, a boy, but he is going on ninteen (19) and for the pass two years after four (4) years of CHAOS, WE ARE VERY PROUD TO SAY HE HAS FINALLY SEEN THE LIGHT!! HE’S A WONDERFUL YOUNG MAN, CHURCH GOING, EDUCATION FOCUSED, WORKING PART-TIME AND RESPECTFUL.


    CONTINUE to share with others your life with BI and very many blessings to you, your readers and all of our “Author of Life’s LOVE. HAPPY EASTER!!!!

    Very sincerely,


  14. I like this statagey alot. I have been diagnosed for about 10 years. some stable some not. I have realized that the better my attitude is the quicker I can cope and focus back on my life again. I just recently found your sites and subscribed, I find this very helpful in time of need. I have some questions about Pharmasutical drugs. I have taken them, and dont like them at all. I dont want to use them but want to explore other avenues, Herbs or holistic tinctures? I have heard good things about them. I was wondering what your opinion is on Holistic treatment of bi-polar?

  15. hey my name is amy and i have had bipolar for 5 years and i just find out that i could not treat it i would have it for the rest of my life and my life has whent down hill i dont have a mom she died and my dad hates me so all i have left is my boyfriend nick and my other family members well life go on i think…..

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