Bipolar: Recipe for Optimism


You know, somebody actually wrote me and asked me if there was a recipe for optimism. Now before you get all critical or laugh it off, let me tell you that I really thought about this! I know there really isn’t a “recipe,” per se, but there is something to be said for it. Because another supporter asked, “How can I be optimistic when my loved one has bipolar disorder?” Now do you see why I gave it some serious thought? Well, let me tell you a few things about optimism first. “It is or it ain’t,” as a friend of mine says. “You can’t have it both ways.” Meaning that if you’re not optimistic, then you must be pessimistic. You can’t see the glass as half-full and half-empty at the same time. See what I mean? You’re either an optimist or a pessimist. I encourage optimism, because I believe having a positive attitude is just as important a part of management of bipolar disorder as the other parts, like medication and therapy.

But let’s get back to optimism (great subject, isn’t it?) It isn’t something you can learn. Or something your parents can teach you. Or a secret a friend passes onto you. Or something you can do research about, or study in a laboratory. Optimism isn’t something tangible. It isn’t something you can touch. It isn’t something you can even experience with any one of your five senses, for that matter. But optimism DOES exist! It IS real! And some people DO have it! In fact, those people are very glad to have it. Optimism just IS. It is a choice. It is a decision. One that you can make, if you want.

So how can you be optimistic if your loved one has bipolar disorder? For every day that your loved one goes without an episode, you can be optimistic that they’ll go the next day without one, too. If they’re taking their medication like they’re supposed to, you can be optimistic that they’ll stay medication compliant and continue to do well. If they’re going to all their appointments with their doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, and any other medical or mental health professional regularly and as scheduled, then you can be optimistic that they’ll continue to do so. If they’re following their treatment plan faithfully, they you can be optimistic that stability is in their future. If they’re healthy, you can be optimistic that they’ll stay healthy. And especially, if they’re doing all of the above, you can be optimistic that the two of you can enjoy your loved one’s stability in the future.

And as far as a “recipe” for optimism? Well, there really isn’t one (but you knew that :))

But if there were, it would probably go something like this:


Take one part positive thinking

Add one cup good attitude

Add an ounce of adventure

A cup of excitement

A bunch of understanding

Another bunch of support

A lot of patience

And top it all off with good feelings

And hope for tomorrow

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,




  1. Hi David,

    I think this is true for everyone. We all are somtimes passimistic in our lives but if we follow this receipe this world will be different place. Keep up the good work.

  2. David — I have been receiving your e-mails for years yet this is my first time ever writing you. I had always heard the glass half full (optimistic)/half empty (pessimistic) attitude and used to agree with it. I always considered myself to have the half full attitude; but recently I heard a third view…the realistic outlook. The glass is really both half full and half empty at the same time. There is both good and bad in the world and it helps when we come to an acceptance of the things we cannot change. Also, we are all both happy and sad at times. When we are sad or depressed, we can say “This too shall pass” and we can be happy again at some point by looking at the blessings in our lives. Even suffering can cause us to grow if we allow ourselves to learn from it. Suffering can make us more sensitive to others and comforting to them. My husband of 30 years was diagnosed with bi-polar about six years ago after years of struggling with depression. He had been hospitalized four times in different mental health facilities, but would never stick with his outpatient treatment plan. In all fairness to him, he was tried on every medication and nothing worked for him. I tried everything possible to try to steer him in the right direction, even shared your e-mails with him, but he actually accused me of having an affair with you, and you and I have never even met. I loved this man with all my heart and have been faithful to him even to this day. Yesterday would have been my husband’s 55th birthday, but last year on 2/25/12, he chose to take his life. Such a sad ending esp. for me, his two teenage daughters and infant grandson who he never got to meet. So I and his daughters are picking up the pieces of our broken hearts and lives and moving on best we can. We are in counseling and I attend a suicide survivor’s support group. Sometimes I forward your e-mails to my daughters, as they are still helpful to me and them as we grieve and process the loss of their dearly beloved Dad, my precious but very troubled husband. Thank you for the encouragement and understanding that your e-mails provide. Lorelee Martin

  3. Ok!
    First of all Dave, you need to post a picture of yourself on the internet; many people think you are a workout guru but you are a bipolar supporter.

    Thinking of Lodz!!!!!

    Anyway, I’m writing about a Divine young lady who has a godzooky of a mother named Yvette – this woman has been known to scream from the top of her lungs, tell this adult daughter (38 years old) to brush your teeth, moisturize her face and oil her kitchen (which means the back of your head is showing beedeebees as heard on the martin show) this is horrible hagar – a delusional mother!

    Lodz remains optimistic and sweet despite wanting to vacate it all. Lodz’ mother has assumed roles from bad husband, horrible leader and delusional baker. She remains an ever sweet person. I think she is up to the 2nd on your list of recipes. Thought about her immediately. Her crazed mom observes her so hard that she feels she can’t yarn in peace either.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *