Bipolar: Is It Really a Lie?


I have this friend, whose children are grown adults now, with children of their own. But she told me this story about one of them one time. She was trying to teach her children about lying, and about how it was wrong to lie. And one of them said: “Well, Mommy, is it a lie if I tell you it’s a lie?” Well…You kinda have to think about that one.

Children do say the darnedest things sometimes, don’t they? That’s what my friend thought, anyway, when she really didn’t know how to answer her son when he said that!

Well…I was thinking about that story the other day, when I was thinking about one of the biggest problems with bipolar disorder: LYING. It’s a big problem, all right.

Consider this email that I got:

“Dave, I do love my husband, don’t get me wrong. And I know he loves me. And I know he doesn’t really want to hurt me. But he does anyway. You know how? He lies! He lies all the time! I’m afraid he does it on purpose. Or maybe it’s just cause of his bipolar disorder, I don’t know, but that’s what I wanted to ask you about. Do all people with bipolar disorder lie all the time? I mean, he even lies about stuff he doen’t have to lie aobut! Things it’s sure I would find out about, like that he doesn’t do something he should. Like even that he doesn’t go to see his therapist when he should go. I can see that the payment isn’t made, he should know that. But he still tells me that he goes, and that’s an outright lie. Like I wouldn’t find out! What is he thinking? Is everyone with bipolar like this, or is it just him? And what should I do about it? I’m at the end of my rope here. I feel like I’m dealing with a teenager.”


Hmmm…Not as odd an email as you might think. I’ve gotten emails like this before. Like I said, lying is a common problem with bipolar disorder. There are several reasons for this. And some of them came out in this email. For one thing, someone with bipolar disorder may appear to be lying, when it’s really a result of their disorder.

Here’s what I’m talking about: Say they have a manic episode. And they act a certain way during that manic episode, exhibit certain behaviors. Say they even hurt you with these behaviors. And you remember it, because it hurt you.

But after the episode, they don’t remember what they did. And you may think they’re lying. But the fact is, that they really do NOT remember what happened during that episode. In that case, they’re really not lying. It’s just a part of their bipolar disorder.

In fact…It can cause real problems, because they may even think that you’re lying! And before you know it…You’re fighting about it! So in this case…You have to be understanding about it.

But what about the other times? Are they really lying? Like in this email, for example. Say… Lying about going to a therapist appointment when they really didn’t go. Your loved one might do something like that. That really is lying.

So why would they do something like that? Well…They might not want to disappoint you. That could be one reason for it. Or they might lie about taking their medication. They might not take it because they might not like what it does to them. Or they might feel that they don’t need it. So they tell you that they’re taking it, when they’re not.

This lie might be because they don’t want to be told what to do, or simply because they don’t want to take their medication (a specific thing).

So what can you do about it? If you can, you need to talk to them about it. You need to set down consequences for their lying. And then you need to stick to those consequences if they lie again.
So that eventually they will stop lying, because they don’t like the consequences.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,



  1. Hi Dave;
    I hate to say this, but I think that once youv’e reached a point where someone is lying to you constantly there is no more trust or intimacy. I put up with all sorts of things from my ex-husband for over 25 years. It was the constant lying that finally did it for me though. It was just too much.
    My life has improved dramatically since the divorce, but I still feel like bipolar disorder cheated me out of the life I was supposed to have.

  2. My friend has traumatic brain injury (TBI) and shows all the classic symptoms of bipolar. Whether he is bipolar or not, I am not sure, although his psychiatric nurse practitioner thinks he is (in addition to being brain injured.)
    Every bipolar person is a little different. My comment is that my friend rarely lies to me. He is quite honest, even when the honesty will make him look bad. It could be that he knows that I love him unconditionally. I do not express anger with him, although I tell him when I am disappointed/frustrated and ask him to do better the next time. Also, I know that he is really trying hard. We are blessed to have a good, healthy relationship even though we struggle everyday with bipolar and TBI.

  3. Wow, Dave. That could’ve been my email several times in the past ten years, even this week! This is probably the biggest challenge for me, besides the episode itself. It is so difficult to trust someone when you can’t believe what they tell you because of so many lies. I truly do love my husband. I just don’t really know the person in this disease anymore. There has become a “safety net”, if you will, of emotional detachment on my part to avoid being hurt over and over again. Thank you for your consistent, inspiring insight.

  4. The only one lying is YOU. You’re making money pretending to be an expert on an illness that doesn’t exist. Either you’re deliberately taking money from stupid people who will believe anything or you’re so stupid and crazy yourself,you live in a fantasy world.The APA admitted 5 YEARS ago, there is no such thing as a chemical imbalance in the brain.They made it up! Lol…lol…lol. If I were you I’d drop this little business of yours, before they lock you up.

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