Does Bipolar Come Along With This?


I got this email and wanted to share it with you:

“I have a question/comment. Dave, you mention that bipolar disorder comes along with rages in several different blogs you have posted. I find this difficult to digest. I have never accepted the raging and abusing. It is simply not healthy for the family, as it affects the atmosphere of a home and makes the nervous system of the family members very unstable !

Someone with bipolar should be held to the same standards as someone without bipolar. We cannot walk in an AT&T store and rage and threaten and get away with it, nor would we want to. We cannot throw chairs and typewriters or get up in peoples faces, just because we feel like it, yet you write that with bipolar this is part of it. Perhaps no-one has held the bipolar person accountable for their destructive behavior. It is not normal and the minute we accept it as “well they have rages” it is us who have gone crazy.

Intolerable behavior should never be allowed, especially when it is used to manipulate you with. Family members can only take so much crap from one person. And another thing, there is a huge difference in someone who has bipolar and has episodes but realizes how they behave and wants to change their behavior or take the medications that hold that behavior in check. It is completely different when a person with bipolar et al, refuses to acknowledge how their behavior affects other people around them.

It is not normal to rage. It is not normal to verbally abuse just for sport. And it should not be tolerated in the name of “oh well, they are bipolar” or whatever. The behavior is stuck below 5 years old and that is the awful truth. You cannot have an adult relationship with someone who

behaves like a pre-kindergartener !”


First of all, let me say that I agree with this person. Now, that may sound contradictory, since I have said what they said I did at the beginning of their email, so let me defend myself here. I have said in certain blog posts that bipolar does come with rages. Manic rages. I’m talking about manic episodes here. And it does not happen to everyone, just to many people.

Now that I’ve got that straight, let me continue.

Much of what this person said in their email can be typical of a person in a bipolar manic rage.

They can fly off the handle over seemingly nothing. They can throw a tantrum in a store. They can embarrass you in public.

But one thing I think this person is missing that I do tell people about is that you have to set limits and boundaries. You have to decide what is tolerable and what is intolerable behavior and then set limits and boundaries on what you will take. Then you have to set up consequences for intolerable behavior.

The person who wrote the email talked about the loved one’s behavior being stuck below that of a 5 year old. So, basically, you treat them like one. If your 5 year old threw a tantrum in a store, what would you do? Would you tolerate the behavior? Or would there be consequences for the behavior because it is intolerable behavior? Then gradually they learn not to repeat the behavior,

don’t they?

It’s the same thing with your loved one. That’s what limits, boundaries, and consequences are

for. And if they do their job, eventually your loved one will stop doing intolerable behavior and will learn to act like an adult, like anyone without bipolar disorder would act. Like the person in the email said, about holding the loved one to the same standards as anyone who does not have bipolar disorder.

They also point out that there is a huge difference in someone who has bipolar disorder but realizes that they have this behavior and need to change it and someone who doesn’t see a need to change their behavior. You can work with the one who sees that they need to change their behavior. The other one is not ready yet.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


  1. I am 40 years old and was diagnosed with Bipolar only 6 years ago. I have been in therapy the whole time since, and on medication. I have been doing everything possible to stabilise my condition as best as is possible. Throughout my life I have had these ‘manic anger attacks’, it’s only now that I finally have some kind of grip over it. It still happens but not as severely and not for as long. People that do NOT understand OR cannot understand, will have the same opinion as the person in your article. YES overtime these ‘outbursts’ can be controlled to a degree, but when the said person is overwhelmed with this state of mind, it is extremely difficult to control…If the person in your article has bipolar, but is fortunate enough NOT to suffer with these episodes, then they should be more empathetic to one which does. If they are NOT bipolar, they will most probably NEVER be able to truly understand, and therefore should be careful with their opinions. My family have suffered greatly over the years because of me, and it hurts me very badly that they have. It has NOT been my fault or intention however, and I have done the best I can to make changes. This has been very difficult, and I am hurt hearing people say such things that do not know me, or my situation. I am NOT taking personal offense to this, as I am sure I am not the only one that feels this way…..It is an ongoing struggle and NOT a 5 year olds tantrum, even if it may seem as such. For this to happen the person is under much duress,anxiety and pressure, and taking control of it when it breaks out is awefully difficult to manage for a person on medication,let alone a person NOT taking medication…..

  2. Hmmm.I think if your bipolar loved one is still having manic episodes he/she is not receiving the right treatment and the person “treating the bipolar loved one like a 5 year old” needs to be slapped.You don’t tell “cancer” not to attack a person in public, you can’t “spank” someone with and ulcer or IBS because they don’t want to eat their vegetables or because they have diarrhea running down their leg in public because the person responsible for their treatment didn’t feel the urge to go to the bathroom.Everyone with a loved one with bipolar disorder needs to be schooled on the subject.You don’t put a band-aid on a slit jugular vein and expect it to stop bleeding.Geez people,have you no compassion? You are dealing with a DISEASE not the person you know and love.

  3. I’ve often said my daughter acts like a 12 year old. She is 40 and has a 4 year old son. She came to live with us when she became pregnant while still unmarried. She decided to go back to collage and become a registered nurse. She is very intelligent but has always had a turbulant life. Her last semester she almost flunked out. Couldn’t concerate and slept alot and started shopping. Adoctor put her on adderall and she became someone I didn’t know anymore. We had a fight and now she refuses to let me see my grandson. I’m heartbroken.

  4. First David let me address the person who think’s all Bipolar people should be treated as if they’re well is crazy. It’s very clear that the person who wrote the blog has no real knowlege of this form of bipolar disorder. I suffer with this this type of bipolar diorder. And believe me it’s no walk in the park. Another thing is that some people; much like myself may not be aware of what is going on with them. Eg. I suffered with this type of rage so long that I thought it was normal. Self medicating for almost 30 years; in hopes that thing’s would calm down. Well that never happened. Let me explain: It happen’s so fast there’s really not much thought to the attacks. And it’s very scary for the personwho is in this state of mind. You basically want to destroy the person who has made you angry. But it can be controlled with medication; education and most importantly prayeer and supplication. GOD BLESS!!!!

  5. I truly hope the person that wrote this email never has to deal with someone with Turettes or other forms of mental illness. I found that the raging came prior to my diagnosis and at the time I had no idea what was happening to me. It wasn’t something I was doing with a clear head obviously, just as a child isn’t always responsible for their behaviour neither can someone who is suffering a mental illness. Education is the key to everything, we are always learning and sometimes patience and understanding go a long way. I am glad that my loved ones recognized that I had no control over the rage and took the time to understand and help. Each person is different and should be treated that way…medication or no medication we are all human and understanding and help is a valuable tool.

  6. I just want to say, that a person with bipolar is ill, and if they fly off into a rage it has to be acceptable, for gods sake they don’t want to be like that but that is part of mental illness,why don’t people understand this.

  7. My husband has rages and I have been told to set boundaries. However, I have not had anyone specifically tell me how. I try to calmly tell him we need to take a break from the discussion and can continue it when we are calmer but he won’t stop. (I try to do this when I see him getting angry, before it develops into a rage, but it doesn’t seem to help). I try to walk away and he blocks my way. I totally agree that boundaries need to be set, but sometimes it isn’t possible to follow through. Once he is in a rage there is no stopping it. The only thing I can do is try not to react. I’ve read and heard they cannot control their behavior and often don’t remember what happens in a rage. I think they have some control at times but not a lot. I know it hurts us both and I know he suffers guilt from these rages. I am at a loss.

  8. I agree with the emailer that no one should accept destructive behavior and excuse it because of a diagnosis called bipolar disorder. Whatever label one chooses to give these disturbed people, the causes of their disturbances may be a genetic tendency given the environmental triggers. I have said it before that many of these disturbed people have been severely abused as children. This abuse could be the trigger that sets them up for a life of misery. There is no requirement for bringing a child into the world other than the ability to conceive. Many children are born into situations that destroy their souls before they even have a chance to develop who they are. I see many of these people as tortured souls screaming out in pain from the suffering they cannot endure. Unfortunately for most of them, there is no >HELP< only medication to numb their senses. After a while, even the medication cannot suppress their pain. For all the knowledge and education, it does no good if it is not applied. How many people must suffer because of the ignorance of a few? They use to put nuts in Institutions. Now they let them run loose doped up on drugs. Helping these people through their problems so that they might have a chance of peace is hard work. Hard work like this is not acceptable to lazy social workers who just want a fat paycheck to feed their fat faces and to pharmaceutical shareholders who just want to profit from the ignorance of anyone they can. If there is a future for humanity, how will our culture be viewed by those who look back to see how we lived?

  9. To HELEN: I’m not going to address your ignorance on the facts of bipolar disorder or any other type of mental illness. It has now been proven tht it is genetic in origin, and “nature” NOT “nurture” is responsible. I have had bipolar for 43 years, during which my adopted mother never understood the psychological pain I was in, and blaming herself for my condition. Then, in 2003, I located my birth mother, and as TRUTH would have it, found out that my maternal grandfather was a paranoid schizophrenic, and my mother was diagnosed witih bipolar disoroder this year!! And not all social worokers are after the almighty dollar. There is some self-sacrifice w4ith some therapists to go the extra mile. I had the same therapist for 40 years!!

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

    BTW, MERRY CHRISTMAS to all and to all a good night!!!

  10. I can see where this person can get frustrated dealing with someone during their manic episodes. At age 26 I find myself trying to control my manic episodes since I was diagnosed over six years ago. My family has been very supportive over the years, but I can see their frustrations at times. I don’t think they have taken the time to thoroughly research this disorder and feel as if I’m throwing a tantrum. I have a very stubborn sister who argues with me when I’m manic which usually leads to s lot of drama. My sister justifies her actions towards me because she thinks I’m spoiled and I use my disorder to my advantage. It hurts my feelings entirely because if she only knew the tortures this disorder puts me through. I wish I could control my manic episodes, even though medication and therapy help, this disorder is a sleeping giant, and when it erupts there is no stopping it. All of you suffering from this disorder, I wish you the best. All we can do is fight the big fight and keep moving forward. Merry Christmas!

  11. Finally someone who knows what is going on. I have lived with this now for three or four years that my wife has been off meds. She claims I am her problem not at manic depression. I cause her to be depressed. She went into a rage because of brand of tires that I put on her car. I can’t do this much longer. Her own brothers don’t want to get involved. I am tired of trying to hold on to the person I used to care about.

  12. First of all, I have the highest empathy for those who suffer from bipolar rages, because I walk in their shoes. Prior to my diagnosis in early 2006, in fact, for almost all my life since I was a teen, I have suffered from rages. I used to think I was just in a “bad mood”, but it went a lot further than that. All through my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, I got into horrible arguments in public places such as malls, fast food restaurants, on buses or other public transit…and also with co-workers, acquaintances and sometimes even friends and family. I never understood why these happened, only that I felt awful and embarrased afterward, and I spent a lot of time apologizing for my actions. I lost friends, alienated lovers and burned many bridges behind me because of this uncontrollable problem. Finally in early 2006, I was fed up with these rages. I had been dignosed with depression when I was 31, and had been on various antidepressants ever since, but this, as I explained to my psychiatrist, was definitely NOT the same as depression. Telling him this was what led to my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I wish I could tell you there is a happy ending to all this. I will say that since I’ve been taking the proper medication for bipolar disorder for 5 years now, the rages are much less often and way more controlled…but they still happen once in a while. I wish more than anything that they would NEVER happen again, especially since I am a Social Worker!!!! A side note to anyone who thinks that those of us who suffer from bipolar rages are spoiled brats or out-of-control loose cannons…WALK A MILE IN OUR SHOES before you speak!

  13. What an interesting discourse this particular blog is for me:
    I have been support for my daughter ( who lives with Bipolar) for 3 years now. Rachel is 36 and is a single parent of 2 little boys.
    I have been reading your blog David for about 2 years, and have done a whole heap of learning over that period.
    what I have learnt is this: sometimes Rachel cant connect the dots between cause and effect feelings and cogent reasons for those feelings, for instance if she is anxious it may manifest itself as physically as anger.
    Sometimes( like yesterday) the weather may get very very hot and humid – and Rachel gets very hot and she has forgotten the connection between feeling hot and doing something about it like hopping into a cold shower – and next thing you know she is anxious and then an episode is triggered
    If Rachel is frightened or scared she may curl up in a dark room ( preferably her own room), and fall asleep for hours even days.
    To all appearances Rachel may appear to be to others – either very angry for no reason , or sleepy and therefore lazy or depressed- but – she is neither.
    In the case of overheating – I reminded Rachel she was hot because it was 28 degrees centigrade outside and she could hop into a shower to cool off which she did with the immediate beneficial effects – Rachel became calm and at peace- she did say she didn’t know why she hadn’t thought of such an action and I reminded her that in the past she was a veritable water baby always in the sea I could never get her out summer and winter both – Rachel remembered then her real love for water – she had lost that memory for a while. Sometimes Rachel appears to have the behaviours of a young child because some of those cause and affect pathways don’t appear to be hardwired for her like in other people or , I believe, because of the onset of BP she has forgotten a lot of those connections, it is as if she has to relearn all those simple connections the rest of us take for granted ( a little like a person learning to walk again after a serious accident) .
    I love my daughter she is my hero

  14. I just wanted to add that rages are actually a symptom of bipolar disorder. Not everyone who has bipolar disorder gets rages, but those that do, cannot completely control them. If they are not on medication, they absolutely cannot control them AT ALL (I speak from experience)…and if they are on medication, there will still be times when something or someone will say or do something to trigger them, and they will go off. If they are medicated, obviously the level of rage and resulting damage will be greately minimized, but they should definitely not be compared to children having temper tantrums…hello? this is a chemical imbalance in the brain! It would be like trying to stop a freight train. You can slow it down, but…….

  15. I agree with David 100%,and it really does work, yes your love one may slip again but thats why we the supporter is there for them and our love for them helps us not to give up on them yes it is hard but you still have to remember they did not ask for bipolar and they need someone to help them just as a child does and we wouldn’t turn our backs on a child would we? its hard to deal with at times i understand first hand but love does conquar all.

  16. I have been at that point of great frustration. My son (27 yrs old), often accuses me of treating him like a child. This, I believe is because of his raging outbursts. (Which I might add was very unlilke him before his bipolar struck. He was always a very complacent, compliant, happy individual. Once the bipolar occurred his whole personality changed)
    For the past 8 months he has not been on any medication. He said he does not like the way it makes him feel. This scares me. His doctor, he claims, told him there is no need for him to come for regular visits because he appears to be handling it okay.
    I have noticed that after he has one of these raging episodes he does feel bad about his behavior. At one point he was justifiying them, now it seems as though he recognizes it. I wish some kind of medication could be developed without the side effects (namely sleepiness) they now have. I am very confused at times as to how to handle him and his condition.
    I do appreciate the articles and read as many as I can. They have helped me with insight on this illness.
    Merry Christmas Dave and everyone!

  17. Interesting comments. It appears that as supporters we have been taught and told through various blogs, professionals, seminars, classes, reading, and ongoing learning about bipolar, that in fact, we are to use boundaries and not accept intolerable behavior. It also appears, from these answers, that those with bipolar either admit to having rages that are destructive and they have remorse, or others say they can’t do anything about them, and have a built in excuse – “can’t help it, it’s chemical”. I have great empathy and understanding for the condition. I have lived and experienced many sides as a supporter – the good, the bad and the ugly. When someone has remorse and guilt over how they have behaved, that is key. When someone with any condition makes excuses and does not take responsibility for seeing to it that the rages might get under better control with medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, than it is very difficult to have empathy and compassion for that person. We all have the right to decide our limits, and what is behavior that is tolerable vs abusive. My library of books holds more reading on bipolar, mental and behavioral health problems et al, than anything else. I have taken it upon myself to learn all I can. I have also gone to workshops, classes, specialists, and read and read and read. And as a family we have 3 psychologists involved. It is most interesting to me that the replies to this blog have been negative about the person supporting. There is a time and a place to not take any more bad behavior from a family member with “bipolar” et al. That time and place is when it becomes dangerous, unhealthy for the rest of the family, and support not appreciated whatsoever. We are in that time and place right now as a family. Although we tried very hard to be understanding for very long, the rages and destruction, and abuse will never be acceptable, as WE HAVE EXPERIENCED that on PROPER MEDICATION taken properly every single day, this type of behavior does NOT happen !


  19. My daughter in law has been diagnosed with many mental problems. My son,thru couneling,also had. Been perscribed mind altering drugs. Discusting,damaging outragous lies have been Told about me by both my son and his wife. (Pardon please I’m having difficulty with elec.notebook screen touchpad) Due to the sexual nature of these LIES, I am totally cut off and out of, NOT ONLY their lives BUT THE LIVES OF MY ONLY GRANDDAUGHTER AND GRANDSON. It as been 4years.
    My D in law’s parents are their supporters. They see them practically daily.,,,there needs to be some accountablity for their actions. I just hope my grandkids haven’t been told that I molested them!

  20. I agree with the message about not arguing with a bipolar person. There is no point in it. It is a waste of time. I would like to add to that message and say don’t waste your time associating with a bipolar person. It is a waste of time. They are twisted and they will only cause you grief. I’m not saying it is their fault because I don’t believe it is. It’s just like an alcoholic who can’t help what she or he does. As long as they are in their disease, they are no good to anyone, not even themselves. They are sick. Unfortunately, in our society, they are allowed to run loose on the streets where they create all kinds of harm.

  21. On facebook, we hit the like button. Helen, good point.
    I just received a book called “Manic Marriage”. I feel as if I could have written it word for word myself. It is not a fun disease, and oftentimes it has been compared to alcoholism (although our family member has that too), by professionals. We were also told to call it a disease because it has to do with the organ the brain. However, we were told the personality disorder (narcissism) is a disorder – a characterological disorder. Alcoholism is also labeled a disease, although, since an alcoholic can become sober it would seem more to be called an illness. We were told illness implies it can be healed, disease implies it is lifelong but can be controlled with medication. Disorder implies that the person could have behavioral modification therapy and not be as disordered. This is from professionals that we have met on our journey on the roller coaster with a family member. But we are now trying to stay off the roller coaster. Which, unfortunately, is the better choice.

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