Bipolar? How Would You Answer This Question?

Hi, how are you? I hope you’re doing well.

So, let me ask you: Now that things are back to “normal,” how are you doing? I mean, how are you really doing? Too many people, when asked that question, will simply answer, “Fine,” when that isn’t the truth.

It could be because they are a private person…Or they don’t want to be honest for whatever reason…Or they are afraid of the other person’s response…Or they just tell people what they think they want to hear…Or they want to believe it themselves…Or they just don’t want to go into it…Or they don’t think it’s anybody else’s business…Or they are trying to believe it themselves.

There are many reasons for an inaccurate or incomplete answer to the question, “How are you?” Those are just some of them.

Supporters have told me that it’s just easier to answer “Fine,” instead of telling the truth if things aren’t fine, because of one of the previously stated answers. Survivors as well.

If you ask your loved one how they are really doing and they answer, “Fine,” yet you’ve noticed some bipolar symptoms in them and know that they are actually not fine, you may have to press them for an honest answer. They could be in denial that anything is really wrong, or be in denial of symptomatic behavior.

Your loved one, if they are still thinking rationally, might not want you to know that they’re struggling because they don’t want to make a big deal out of it. If they have crossed over into irrationality, say, into a manic episode, they may actually believe that they are “Fine.” Then it’s up to you to tell if they really are or not.

The key is to have good communication with your loved one, paying attention not only to what they say, but also to what they don’t say. How are they behaving? Is it their normal behavior?

Or is it bipolar behavior? You know them better than anybody else, and you should be able to tell the difference.

Even if they try to hide something, like the fact that they’re depressed, you might still be able to tell by their mannerisms, or just the fact that they are quieter than usual, or sleeping more.

You need to be as familiar with the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder as you are with your loved one. This way you can tell the difference between when they are in an episode and when they are not.

Be very vigilant, never letting down your guard… Or before you know it… You’ve stopped watching for signs and symptoms of a bipolar episode… And your loved one could be in one,

which could have been avoided if you had noticed their off-behavior earlier.

I’m not saying to overprotect them or to smother them…I’m just saying to stay vigilant, or you might miss something.

If you ask your loved one how they are really doing, and they answer, “Fine,” yet you know they aren’t, try to get them to agree to see one of their professionals so that they don’t have to go into the hospital when the episode becomes worse.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


  1. I find I use that word all the time, it’s easier to say and for others to hear. My husband is in the down cycle of a manic episode that lasted almost a year, his family that said I could go to for support believed he was “fine” because he can be very convincing that he is not in an episode and they don’t see him on a regular basis to know better – now I viewed as the non-supportive wife and the cause of all our issues due to “marital difficulties I don’t want to own!”, our children have suffered, our marriage has suffered, but I am still trying to be understanding and supportive. I find it’s easier to keep to myself and be “fine” when I’m screaming “help me!” inside.

  2. Hi Dave, there are times when I had said fine when asked how I was doing but I was lying to that person. The reasons were because I did not want to go in detail what was going on in my life at that time and didn’t want to hear your opinion, I was in denial, and I am a private person. I suggest you give the person who says he or she are fine time to may open up to you and just listen with compassion and understanding instead of giving your opinion of their situation.

  3. dave…i tell people all the time that i am fine, when deep down inside i am crying…every day is a struggle, yes, but with each disater, well disater to me…i feel myself getting stronger…i want to answer people, i am FINE and mean it!
    will that happen…? i believe so, but don’t ask me that today, cause today i am not so fine, getting better though…thanks for all your interesting emails, i may not respond as often as i should, but i appreciate your help very much!

  4. Hi. How was it handled? We discussed the actions / moods and then “got out of Dodge”, just a change of scenery. Cabin fever and possibly S.A.D. had set in. Going out in the (very) fresh air helped lift the mood.
    Later we set an appointment with the counciler.
    That also helped tho finding a local understanding friens to call or stop by to check / talk, has been a real chalenge.
    Any ideas on that one? Ad in the paper?

  5. Hi Dave,
    I have never been in denial regarding my husband’s bipolar condition. I always need to stay focused. There have been 3 episodes of manic in our lives not including the diagnosis in the Army receiving an honorable discharge. Believe it or not did not strike again until long after we were married. Drs. couldn’t explain it. It was shortlived (of course with denial on his part that anything was wrong with him)Then another 10 years,also short but with hospitalization (Baker Act)and no followup because he still would not take any medication. But then 4 years after that, was a full blown episode, including psycosis requiring forced hospitalization for 3 weeks. This time, medication was followed up with the realization, it had to be taken for life. Thankfully, we are in our 4th year of good days – no bad so far, but the eyes are never shut and we have very good medical follow-up this time, which made the world of difference with the Drs. we had this time.

  6. My daughter is stuck with a $2,ooo bill, just because she took too much of her medication. She was acting funny and her boyfriend took her to the emergency room.

  7. This is a great question. My best friend is BPD and she often says “fine”. And I usually know this means one of two things. I always try to give her time unless I’m concerned. Usually it means she is a little down, overwhelmed and wants space. And if I am patient enough, she usually will reach out; but it’s best to let her do so only when she wants to. This can take days or even a week or so as she hides and stays busy. But I stay in touch to make sure she really is ok. And then in some rare times, it just passes and she just needs to work through what is concerning her on her own. Like all of us!

  8. Hi, I am generally an open and honest person almost to a fault. But because between my husband and adult daughter, both of whom have bipolar, keep me stressed. I guess my a answer would have alot to do with how well I knew the person or not. My life seems confusing and overwhelming for most people it’s easier to say fine. Right now my husband is 68 and trying to come to terms that he can’t fix things like he use to. This is causing him alot of irritability and taking it out on me. Then he apologizes and it keeps happening over and over again. He is on meds. My daughter just had 3rd baby and dealing with post partum and bipolar. Baby up all night she started meds a week ago. How do I stay strong enough to support both of them, I am tired, burnt out and feel like I have been doing this forever. Been married 32 years. Thank you for listening

  9. Hi David!im really greatfull $ the emails and the news about bipolar that you send me .,we read it! is so truth!! …Is nice to know im not alone in these my son [8]yrs and me we being diagnose w/bipolar,+Ihave a 11 yrs old asbeerger Thanks GOD FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU ..sincerily maria

  10. Randi- I applaud your devotion to your family, I know it feels that all is dependent on you to have your “eyes always open” never to let your guard down or be away too long for fear that you may miss something that others never would see. It is tiring and scary, but they take comfort knowing your are there for them – please make sure someone is there for you – especially on the days when you feel stretched too far, too tired of doing so much for others and never having anyone look out for you – keep doing the good work – they are lucky to have you…

  11. I kinda chuckled to myself when you say “now that things are back to normal”. I get tired of being vigilant. I get tired of watching, watching and watching. I remember when you said once not to live like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can’t help it. We are trying to get over the affair she had, but it’s hard when she still lies about little things like money. I try to ask about her spending and I don’t give her access to too much money, but she still buys energy drinks and expresso ( at the same time) and I remind her that she shouldn’t. I know she spends what she has and I test her sometimes and she always lies. Am I wrong to ‘test’ her? I feel like a controlling troll sometimes. I love her and am not giving up on us.

  12. Oh God, this really hits home right now. The last thing I heard from my dear friend, who is currently in an episode, was text to tell me he was fine and I shouldn’t worry. No one has seen him in town for days. Today a friend of his told me he had gone off traveling around the country. This wouldn’t be the first time, I only hope he is not away for too long, as when he doesn’t pay his bills he will lose his home again and end up in the psych ward again. His only fear is to end up in the psych ward, so he has run away from the doctors and from himself. I don’t know if he took his meds with him. I can’t help him if i don’t know where he is. I’m hoping for another text to reassure me he is ok. Most of the time his phone is switched off. Good job I don’t have bipolar disorder, or I would surely go into an episode with all the stress I’m under right now. I pray that he is ok and his guardian angel is protecting him.

  13. Hi Dave I was diagnosed with bipolar officially a year an half ago.I tried to kill myself . I have been having the systems of it for over 14 years.noone seems to look into it.only thought I was depressed and also blamed my period ? My primary doctor would say oh you seem to have seasonal bipolar.during winter true it is worse then. But it never went away . I would act out with spending ,hurting myself talking to other men, and more .everyone would say stop it .I tried but couldn’t .I felt lost and crazy. Now my family knows and husband oh that explains it. But no support from them .you doing fine. To my family no. But to my husband. I’m good. Even thou i am not . He is leaving me wants a divorce. He say’s he can’t live under same roof as me. The bipolar ruined out marriage . All the years I was sick . I didn’t know. Now I am all alone . I have to look out for any new systems.which is easy and hard at the same time. I am hurt that noone cares. Only when I act out duh you know why help me

  14. My husband was diagnosed bi polar in 2003 wen he was finally hospitalized. We have had a few episodes since then but were able to get them under control. Last year prescription company mis labeled one of prescriptions and drove my husband into a full blown maniac episode. He has moved out and in with his girlfriend and now has filed for divorce after 20 years of marriage. He claims he’s thinking is clear. His girlfriend is an alien and wants a green card, even states that on her FB page. I had informed his doctor all that has been going on but his shrink doesn’t like to deal with the infidelity part of bi ploar. I don’t know where to turn next?!@#

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