Bipolar Disorder? Guard Your Mindset At All Costs


How are you doing today?

These days when you turn on the news or read the paper there is a lot of negatively.

I personally don’t read the news, watch the news look at news websites.

I very carefully guard my mindset.

When I go to the gym I have trained myself never to look at TVs that might have news on them.

I quickly stop talking to people who have doom or gloom to tell me.

When you are dealing with bipolar disorder, I advise you to do the same AND also to avoid people who are negative about your bipolar disorder or your loved one’s bipolar disorder.

You need to be positive. You need to be aware and prepare for anything negative but focus on the positive and not be saturated with negative information.

It all has to do with your mindset.

Like in my courses.

I talk about being negative vs. being positive, and how much that has to do with whether you get better or not, if you have bipolar disorder.

And, if you’re a supporter, being negative or being positive has a lot to do with how good a supporter you are.



But, again, it has to do with your mindset.

I think you can choose to be negative or positive.

And I think a lot of that has to do with what you surround yourself with.

For example, if you have a job where everyone there has a negative attitude, you’re going to have a negative attitude, too.

And you’re probably not going to like that job very much, either.

And if they gossip, you might even be pulled into that.

On the other hand, if everyone there has a positive attitude, the opposite is going to happen.

The atmosphere at work will be a more positive one, everyone will have a better attitude, and working conditions will be better all around.

Now, that kind of job you’ll be happy to go to, because your own attitude will be a more positive one. Your mindset will be better.

Another example is, take me.

I work out a lot in the gym.

There’s a lot of negative attitudes there.

There’s some guys who believe that they won’t get the bodies they want.

That’s their negative attitude coming out.

That’s their negative mindset (I think it’s because they won’t do the work, which makes them even more negative about working out).

Where I’m just the opposite, because I have a positive mindset.

I believe that if I stay focused, ignore those negative people around me, and keep a positive mindset, I will get the body I want if I do the things I need to do to get it.

Ok, let’s look at how your mindset affects bipolar disorder again, with that example in mind.

If you believe that your or your loved one’s bipolar disorder is never going to get better, you are going to have a negative attitude.

Then, say you go to your support group, and they think their or their loved one’s bipolar disorder is never going to get better.

Now you’re surrounding yourself with other negative people. So now you have a negative

So do you think you or your loved one are going to get better?

On the other hand, if you or your loved one have a positive attitude and surround yourself with positive people…

You will have a positive mindset…

And, guess what?

You or your loved one will get better!

See? It all has to do with your mindset.

But, like me and my working out, you also have to be willing to do what it takes to get there as well.

But you can do it with a positive mindset!

What do you think?

Have you been in the situation where you have been surrounded by negative people?

How has that affected you?

  1. I believe you have to be real. I know so many people who are so very positive, that everything around them is falling apart but hey it’s all ok. Just because you live with the truth and accept things as they are doesn’t mean you are negative. It means you are real and know that things are not always hunky-dory. You can still have a positive attitude and believe and have faith in God and pray that everything will be ok. You do have to realize that their are bad times and good times. Thats life.

  2. I often read your emails through a couple of times. Today I could only read it once, my blood pressure goes so high.

    You can say that I don’t have to read them, that I can unsubscribe. From the perspective of having a serious imbalance. Sometimes I get my best laugh of the day by reading your emails because the things suggested are so absurd.

    I do all the things that the so-called “professionals” say that I do, but even that doesn’t work. I am totally med-compliant Like most things it is best to just think about what these people are telling you to do, and figure out in your own mind if it is reasonable.

    Too often we are given what seem to be “simple solutions” and then feel like failures when “sure things” don’t work.

    Yes a positive attitude can help but sometimes, no matter how much you want something it is just not within our grasp.

    A lot of those with the bipolar diagnosis (and their supporters) main jobs, are cruise directors on the Titanic just rearranging the deck chairs.

  3. I agree in theory but in reality it really depends on how much control you have in your situation. While you can inject positiveness into your life if married to a bipolar you are subject to their choices and the results of those choices and you most likely can’t just walk out on them. If your efforts are constantly undermined and you can’t keep some control over your own life because of an unpredictable loose cannon then these commnents about staying positive are just words which can feel like further punishment to someone already feeling tremendous pressure. It isn’t really based on the sad reality of the disorder and all the very real pain you experience trying to cope. It really isn’t an easy road and to say otherwise is like living in denial. I believe you need to stop every now and then and really acknowledge the pain and suffering you’ve encountered in this journey. Shoving down the pain and putting on the happy face is demanding those struggling with this very real problem to deny their own needs. All of our emotions have a purpose and if we are meant to be so one dimensional (okay lets just choose to be happy) then it would of course be the only emotion we would be capable of.

  4. How can you remain positive, when each time you trust someone with bi-polar, they hurt you or use you, or disrespect you. For 5 years, I have supported my bi-polar brother, through suicide attempts, and over-medication, taxes, debts, jail, etc.. He seems to get a thrill from stealing or hurting the people who have tried to help him and then lying to their face… I am so over this…at this point, I really dont care what happens, since he will do what he wants to do regardless of any assistance (unwanted) I try to provide..
    According to doctors, social workers, etc, he is a grown man.. I see the train wreck coming, but there is no way to stop he has a right to make his own decisions.. He is going to wind up living out of a dumpster, since he has will make his decisions regardless of anyone else..
    Positive, I am positive he is going to wind up dead or in jail

  5. I am in a relationship with a BP man. And i find that he himself is negative and i find myself at times starting to think like him. I’m usually try to keep a open and positive mind around him and every-one else in my life. It’s almost like he’s letting his BP control him. He uses it against me when he tries to push me away and out of his life. But, i really like him and am willing to stand by his side and support him as much as i can. He often wonders & asks why i’m with him? and i often ask myself that also when he gets in his moods . But when we first meet i was not aware of his BP and thats the man i fell for. I still care for him a great deal and hope that we can make this work for i like him for who he is and how he makes me feel when i’m with him. Anyways i know he is a great guy even though at times he does not. But, keeping in a positive frame of mind is a lot of hard work- what i do is keep positive quotes where i can see them and i also post them around my house where i know they can easily be viewed. Eventually the mind will catch on and being positive won’t be so hard to do. My children are learning to be more positive in there day to day lives also. TRAIN THE BRAIN and negative things will be easier to deal with.

  6. Such an interesting topic you bring up today. I am bipolar and I have to say that you cannot think your way out of being bipolar. There is no cure, only treatment. Currently my treatment is successful and I’ve been mostly stable for over a year and a half.

    I am surrounded by positive thinking friends. Some of them think so positively that they will come right out and say you cause your own illness by your emotions and thoughts. They don’t know the real me or that I suffer from a mental illness, nor do I intend to tell them. So some positive thinking styles can be hurtful.

    I went on a news fast for many years, but I hang with a very intelligent crowd and started to feel uninformed and ignorant. I want to know what is going on in the world, not just my little, isolated piece of it. When I go to the gym – I catch up on the news. Endorphins and intellectual stimulation at the same time. Different strokes for different folks.

    My local support group is awful. You spend 2 hours and come out depressed. Put a roomful of manics together and it’s very unlikely you’re going to find a positive atmosphere.

    Finally while I agree with you that striving for the positive will help a bipolar to stay stable and therefore happier, I have to add that with every episode, a small piece of my essence, confidence, & courage erodes. My world becomes a little darker and it is a bit harder to crawl back up to that happy place. You just can’t think yourself out of being bipolar.

  7. Hi,
    Unfortunately, I am the one that is negative most of the time. I try to be positive, then it seems like something else wrong happens and I get negative, and it seems like why get positive, it does no good.
    Like this morning, I am going to the doctor, getting more medicine I need, then my dad calls and very first thing he asks is If I am going to the unemployment office and why have I not gone yet. Reason being what money I have left will not last maybe a month. The thing is the reason I quit my job was I could not work anymore, I am waiting on an answer from disability. IF I get a job, I do not think I could keep it, as I am basically the same as I was when I needed to quit, and I would have to start all over again with the disability.
    SO, see it seems like I can not win for losing.
    I know he only is worried, and he said that if i lose my aprt. that I can’t live there or they will lose their job, they work at the lakes and check people in and stuff. I have had to borrow a couple hundred from them, but I am not asking for anymore, and I do not want to live with them, so it just really upset me. I feel wrong if I don’t do what he wants, but I can’t hold a job now, even here at home it is not much different then at work, except I am not around people, in which case i always looked crazy to them (before I quit) because I was trying to fight the symptoms and things I had and could not remember things to answer there questions, so that is a plus in being away from them. In that respect I am better.
    I just don’t know what to do anymore. All I do know is that I can not work right now at this time.
    I hear that most all disability applicants are denied the first time, which would mean a second go around. HOw is anymore suppose to live and pay bills if they can’t work and they can’t afford to wait to see if they are approved that long?

    Any answers would be appreciated, thanks, guess I had to vent a little too, sorry.


  8. Hi Dave and thanks for enforcing the positive mindset. The problem that my family has is with my son who is bipolar and a very, very negative thinker. He is the one who is responsible for losing friends and family because he causes so much depression in all around him with his negative thoughts. No matter how hard we try to lift him up and give him hope, he always comes up with reasons why all of our suggestions won’t work and seems to enjoy telling us that we don’t understand what he is going through. No, we don’t know, but we have told him again and again that we hurt too, because he is hurting and we love him. But it’s true, we are tired of always hearing “poor me”. He wants to be taken care of like a child but treated like an adult – he is 45 years old and SHOULD TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS ACTIONS AND LIFE – or am I wrong? Please help Dave!

  9. Dave – you’ve got a suggestion – up to a point. I’m bipolar, and I find it VERY difficult to stay in a positive paradigm (mindset). Most bipolar survivors CAN’T control their moods – it’s as simple as that. I’m sure you had problems with your Mom adjusting her moods to what was going on at home. It’s the same thing with me – I can start off a morning feeling somewhat good, then something minor/major will happen, and I go “down” again. Bipolar disorder is a dis-ease of “mood swings.” It is NOT easy to maintain a positive attitude for us bipolars. And – while in clinical depression – there’s no combination of “snap out of it,” “you’re feeling sorry for yourself,” etc., that can get us OUT of a negative mood.

    When our “chemical imbalance” is out of synch, no amount of positive attitude can help. I agree that surrounding yourself with positive people and environment, COULD help. Unfortunately, we CAN’T control how we “feel” at any given moment. And those who are rapid cyclers have it hardest of all.

    I’m NOT on a “pity party” here; just trying to explain that turning off the TV, or not reading the paper, won’t put us in a more positive mood. We are at the mercy of our chemicals; and even if we’ve got the best medications for our treatment, bipolar “moods” and episodes can/will sneak up on us and destroy what we’ve put in motion.

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

  10. Hey, dave I want to ty for todays post and all the other ones ive recieved from u, I have a lot problems myself of negative thinking which I’m working on in different ways, my girlfriend that ive been with for fifteen months, has a bipolar son, also some other issues, he’s mother and I had a argument one day about three weeks ago, and I haventbeen able to c them since then because it brought up so many bad, negative thoughts of me he doesn’t want to c me, it’s very hard loving someone and not able fox them, it’s the first for me, she also has 2 autistic kids as well I
    Love very much, mostly of all I just want to ty for taking the time to educate yourself on learning about this mental illness, that I need to learn more about.

  11. As a supporter I never hang out with anyone who has a negative thing to say about BP in general or my daughters mental condition specifically and that includes family and erstwhile friends: because to be around negativity is just a pointless exercise and I really haven’t the time to change peoples opinions and prejudices. I so want to hear about solutions and problem solving, Im a glass half full kind of a mother.anyways theres ways to much sadness and mayhem, doom amd gloom in the world without me adding to it.
    My daughter is the bravest person I know.


  12. My experience is having to be overly positive to counteract the negative dimension of the bipolar relative we have who thinks he is the life of the party when in reality he drags everyone down with his sociopathic thinking and acting out. It is exhausting. The family is exhausted. Friends are exhausted. Children are exhausted. Even when he is manic he is very negative and nasty. And it is the nasty negative that is frightening to witness because of the abuse that goes on. So yes, it is important to stay positive with any illness and negativity only makes it worse but my experience with bipolar is that they simply look at the cup half empty instead of half full and then blame everyone around them that they are miserable or feel entitled to make everyone else miserable however they can. No matter what you do for a bipolar spouse it will never be good enough because they are so pathetically unhappy with themselves it taints everything else. If you ask my kids if they want him around they say he ruins everything. Now that “ruins everything” has changed with coping with healing from trauma which is very hard work also. You don’t realize what you have been dealing with until you get away from it and spend time with normal people. Normal meaning those who aren’t getting a kick out of being in trouble, causing trouble, or making other people miserable, as Lisa described above. People do stop caring when they have just had enough. And it takes twice the amount of time for the family to heal from the tragic consequences of the episodes, than it takes for the person themselves – and this I am told is because the person that has the bipolar doesn’t seem to care how they are affecting other peoples lives. They are too caught up in their own dysfunction and destruction. So yes, be positive when your relative is doing positive things to help themselves – therapy, taking the meds that help them interact in a way that is not hurting other people, being responsible. That is something to celebrate and be positive about. But I think it is more realistic to not live in the superficial world of “everything is just fine” when it is not. There is a lot of crazymaking that goes on in a home with a person with bipolar disorder and one of the mistakes I have made for years is staying so positive that everything would be better, because everything kept getting worse. And each time I pretended to not react or “stay positive” it meant that our bipolar relative would act out at a more extreme level to get attention like an ante up. Maybe being negative about the behavior and not putting up with it with it as positively would have helped more.

  13. OMG Suzanne….what you wrote was spot on the mark I’m so glad to read that someone really gets it. I’m going to print what you wrote and give to my husband and I hope he can then understand just how hard it is. I like many people that suffer with bipolar don’t want or need someone to feel sorry for us just to listen without judgment not to make a remark and say here we go again. I hope and pray that one day a drug is found that can help me and other sufferes be normal again. Big hugs for you Suzanne thank you.

  14. I’ve maintained a positive attitude throughout all my sister’s episodes, but today I feel so bloody tired. We’ve fallen out (yet again). This happens with alarming frequency now, it never used to be this bad. We can spend hours on the phone, me being positive, her being negative and as much as I feel I should be 100% supportive, after one of these exceptionally draining conversations, there’s noone to support and help me. My husband is fed up, my children don’t know whether they’ll see their Aunty anytime soon and throughout this, I have to keep a smile on my face and be there. It’s incredibly testing and quite frankly don’t know if I want to continue being the supporter. I like to think of myself as positive person, but her constant negative energy is wearing me down. Interestingly, this blog has now become more than slightly negative (which was never my intention), but I feel better because I finally got this off my chest. Many thanks for that! ; )

  15. As a supporter, yes, I try to focus on the positive things in life and I do avoid negative people. I just ended a twenty year friendship with a woman who may very well be bipolar as is my young adult son. However, unlike my son, she’s self-centered, extremely selfish, jealous,vengeful. A couple months ago, after what I considered to be ‘the last straw’ of her exhibiting no concern for anyone,including me,I disowned her..and she knows it. Dealing with one bipolar person in my life is enough. My now xfriend with all her negativity and ‘woe is me’, constantly talking about herself, or hearing her go on and on about how she’s always talking to God,or listening to him…(yeh, right) now has to find someone else who can put up with her…what a chore that will be for her! Unless she can ‘get something’ in return from someone, she’s unwilling to give anything. She’s run everyone out of her life, other old or new friends, her husband, boyfriends, now me. And it still haunts me when I recall the time I phoned to tell her that a mutual friend of our’s just learned that his child was diagnosed with cancer…she replied to me, “Well, that’s HIS problem, he stopped calling or visiting me months ago!” Yes, she was harboring such resentment. Sad fact is, the child did die, about six months later…yet this woman never even bothered to send out a sympathy card. Now is that cruel, inhuman or what, bipolar or just plain hateful? I don’t know, but am done with her once and for all. Remaining positive is an ability we as supporters have, even more so than our loved one who has the ‘disability’.

  16. You are so right, negative people can really bring a person with Bipolar down. We already have depression, so we are sensative. I try to surround myself with positive people. But i have troble with my mother. She can say alot of hurtful things to me. And she stresses me out about things that don’t have to be said at that moment. I have had Bipolar since i was 17, now i am 29. I am a writer. Alot of my writings have to do with mental disorders, mostly Bipolar. And also addictions. And just about human nature. I have finished 2 memoirs, fiction based on the truth, my story. I also have several poetry books. A lot of them speak about Bipolar. If you would like me to email you one let me know.

    Aja McKinney

  17. I think a focus on positive thinking is valuable. I also believe we have some control over our interpretations of any given circumstance, but our capabilities are limited.

    Having bipolar disorder symptoms is one mitigating factor, but there are many others, like fatigue, that affect all people.

    I agree that in the midst of a depressive episode, a “think positive” plan is not an option, and there is no justification for feeling bad because you are during that episode, unable to think positively.

    Coping with a major depression is a daunting task, and doing so is a success, which is commendable whether or not any happy thoughts enter your mind. You probably cannot even give yourself the credit you deserve for coping to the best of your ability.

    There is another reason to allow, with some limits upon yourself, so-called “negative” thoughts to integrate and flow freely in your consciousness. That is that “negative” thoughts serve important purposes.

    “Negative” thoughts can, for instance, alert you of danger or of things that are, for you personally, events or places better avoided.

    As an analogy, if you cannot swim, and your friends invite you on a trip to the ocean, you will likely have negative thoughts about the prospect of the trip, even though your friends are looking forward to a great time. Your “negative” thoughts about some situations protect you. They are adaptive for you, so it is arguable whether or not “negative” is an accurate description—for you, only you.

    That does not make your friends, who have “positive” feelings and thoughts about the ocean, wrong. “Positive” thoughts are adaptive for them, because those thoughts motivate them to do something they enjoy.

    So, thoughts, both your own, and those of your friends, distinguish you from one another. Naturally we all have things we like, and things we do not like. “Negative” thoughts have value because they reflect individual identities.

    What if your friends love the ocean so much that they dread the time when they have to get out of the water and return to the beach? At that time, they have “negative” thoughts about the beach. But those comparatively “negative” feelings do not transform their whole mindset. They haven’t become “negative,” but the change indicates the degree to which they feel “positive” about being in the ocean.

    All of this is simply to say that having “positive” and “negative” thoughts can reflect preferences and personalities.

    For instance, the question of whether or not support groups are “positive” or “negative” is a subject of debate here.

    Like many aspects of recovery, what is, to one person, “negative” might well be very “positive” for another. No one can tell another person whether or not a support group is good or bad for THEM, but each person determines what is “positive” or “negative” for themselves.

    In any case, it is worth considering the fact that there is more than one support group available, that there is no possibility that any of us has visited all support groups, of every kind, in order to make a blanket statement that they are, without exception, “negative.” Likewise, it is impossible to state with certainty that any one support group is always “negative.” We are shortsighted if we fail to consider that group dynamics, attendance, and general atmosphere change constantly, just as individuals do.

    A last point to consider is that labeling any individual as a “negative person” or a “positive person” is neither useful or accurate, as it is inevitable that ALL of us are capable of being “positive,” “negative,” and everything in between.

    Thankfully, human behavior is much to complex and interesting to be categorized in this “either-or” paradigm.

    Some people consider our thoughts as behaviors. Again, I do not believe that is to say that we have complete control over those thoughts/behaviors. But I do think this is a very useful model for observing ourselves, our thoughts, and how those thoughts affect attitudes and behaviors.

    It is true that some of us, depending upon circumstances, habits, or psychological needs, “behave” in their thoughts in a way that is not positive. Regardless of our opinion of one particular person, what if we thought of their “negative” attitude as the result of a behavior? That would mean we could think of what they are DOING as “negative” without writing off the person. Absolutely, it is still important to avoid that person IF it harms you.

    However, look how much more power we recognize for ourselves if we know that we are “behaving” in a negative way, rather than having looked in the mirror and labeled ourselves “negative people,” which is an indictment of our whole character. “Behaviors” suggest the potential to CHANGE those actions/thoughts/attitudes which we find are not helpful.

    Interestingly, categorizing ourselves or others as either “positive” or “negative” is thinking in polarities. This might appear to make our choices easier, but it does not credit any of us, as adult human beings with being as complex, adaptive, perceptive, and capable of shrewd discriminating between what is “positive” for us, as unique people. In fact, we are, each of us, capable of all of that.

    This is an ongoing process. I like to pay the most attention to where I fall (at any given time), which place, somewhere between the polarities of “positive” and “negative,” because that awareness, rather than judgment, teaches me to develop into the person, and the soul, I want to be.

    Be positive! Even when you’re negative, you win–as long as you keep your eyes open…

  18. WOW Shona, you just said exactly how I feel “There is a lot of crazymaking that goes on in a home with a person with bipolar disorder and one of the mistakes I have made for years is staying so positive that everything would be better, because everything kept getting worse. And each time I pretended to not react or “stay positive” it meant that our bipolar relative would act out at a more extreme level to get attention like an ante up. Maybe being negative about the behavior and not putting up with it with it as positively would have helped more.” I agree that positive thinking or behaving on my part while my spouse is being unpredictable, impulsive, out of control, emotionally abusive, etc. is not good for the relationship or helping my spouse with Bipolar see the reality. If I deny the reality that I am pissed off about what just happened the Bipolar seems to take More Control and becomes more and more powerful and manipulative. It grows into a Monster and eats you alive. I do not mean in anyway to be judgemental on the individual with Bipolar but I need to stay in reality. Currently my husband has done everything possible to ensure that all boundaries put in place have been destroyed along with destroying our property (looks like a giant baby came over and played with trucks on our backup and left mounds of dirts and piles of gardens in different places and left without putting everything back where it was – we have 10 acre property and my husband decided to landscape it differently and tour apart all our grass with a bulldozer which he ordered without my consent). Anyway I know it all sounds kind of laughable but this impulsiveness to do what he wants and get away with while the behaviour grows stronger is not acceptable regardless if it is just his Bad Behaviour or Bipolar. I have made sure to advise him that the reason our relationship is being lost is because he made it impossible for me to stay in it. I have made him responsible for loosing the family again – it is the reality. The disease consumes and destroys everything around it if we let it. It has to be told the truth and not played around with like a little child’s game. Just my thoughts

  19. Sorry I meant “Family Member” not “Shona” even though some of what Shona said was amazing as well.

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