Happy Memorial Day and Bipolar? This is When It’s Hardest


Happy Memorial if you live in the United States and celebrate it.

I hope you doing great today whether you are or you aren’t.

Actually I have to get going today because I am doing a bunch of things but first wanted to send this out really quick.

You know, there are a lot of hard things in life.

Growing up is hard.

Going to college is hard.

Making a marriage work is hard.

Raising children is hard.

Getting along with difficult people is hard.

Making things meet financially is hard, especially in today’s economy.

Having, coping, and dealing with bipolar disorder is really hard.

But THIS is when it is HARDEST:

Here’s an email I got about it:

“Hi, Dave,
Just wanted to tell you how very
effective your emails are to give
down-to-earth information to many
areas for those who suffer the unasked
for condition of bipolar disorder. I
have a wonderful friend who works
hard daily to made a productive life
for himself but seems to be constantly
punished for his disease especially by
his immediate biological family, who
should certainly know better. They
seem to have targeted him as the
family scapegoat and constantly
remind him that they certainly
aren’t mentally ill. I could smack
every one of them! Andrea Farrell.”

This has got to be one of the hardest things of all for someone with bipolar disorder to deal with –

When not only does your own family not support you, but they actually BLAME you for your own disorder!

This family is obviously grossly misinformed.

Let me state a couple FACTS right here and right now.

First of all, bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance of the brain.

You don’t get it because of something you did or didn’t do, like having a childhood disease or doing drugs or something.


Second of all, most scientists believe that bipolar disorder has a hereditary element to it.

In other words, that the disorder is passed down through the family.

So these people may THINK that none of them has a mental illness, but I bet if they look, they’ll find someone who – if they don’t have bipolar disorder – at least suffers (suffered) from major depression!

But the main thing here is look what they’re doing to this man!

It’s called STIGMA. It’s very common, and it’s very ugly. And we have to fight it every day with bipolar disorder. That’s why I talk about in my courses/systems below:



Look at the words:

“They seem to have targeted him as the family scapegoat and constantly remind him that they certainly aren’t mentally ill.”

That’s STIGMA.

That’s what people do to another person who has a mental illness.

Do you hear the FEAR in that statement?

People generally fear what they don’t understand.

If these people took the time to really understand bipolar disorder, I’m sure they wouldn’t treat this man the way they are.

Especially because he seems to be doing everything he can to manage his bipolar disorder, according to Andrea’s email.

He sounds stable, which is what we all want for our loved one, and we know it isn’t easy.

We also know they need our support.

Can you imagine:

“…but [he] seems to be constantly
punished for his disease.”

What if this were you?

How would YOU feel?

Do you think you would want to get stable?

Or do you think you would just give up?

  1. I read this and think that no one has the right to knock another down because of any affliction. My younger sister is bi-polar. She lives alone in our recently deceased fathers home. Unforunately, she will not stay in compliance with her medication.She is delusional and hates us all. She lives in flith and has clothes piled on top of clothes and magazines and newspapers everywhere. She won’t let us clean or throw anything away. When she gets hospitalized for a few days at a time we rush in and try to throw out the junk. Last Saturday, we used 50 large trash bags and finally could see the floor in two rooms. We were going to finish cleaning out room by room but she was let out of the local hospital yesterday, so we now have to stop and wait until she gets put back in jail as she calls it. She will not let us have any knowledge of her medical stuff and only calls us when she needs a ride or something from the hospital. She is very much a bully and we are all afraid of her. My little brother said that we should stand up to her an tell her we aren’t going to take her bullying us around anymore and we are going to clean her house whether she likes it or not. Ha, ha, right! Anyway, we let our poor father deal with her and he died and now we are in a world of hell. It is exhausting and scary. I feel sorry for anyone with this problem.

  2. Just wanted to say …Everyone gets punished for this disease. It is worse than Cancer. It is a nightmare that never ends. I feel sorry for the victim with the disease but more so for the family of the person they are trying to help. The new privacy laws that are now in place, do so much more harm to the mentally ill than help them. Our hand are tied.

  3. My comment here is that perhaps this person’s claim against their family blaming them and them being the scapegoat could and likely should be taken with a grain of salt. It has been my personal experience to see a bipolar pity themselves and spin things to make strangers feel sympathy for them all the while not taking accountibility for their own actions. I’ve seen them demonizing innocent people who have stood by them, supported them and then been treated with nothing but contempt for all their efforts. I believe that some people are treated with stigma but most likely outside of the family. There is indeed a lack of understanding of this disorder unless you’ve been in it.
    They could be mixing up being held accountable for being blamed. Some bipolars like to take the road that they can’t help themselves and so therefore should be excused. Lord knows their perceptions can be skewed.

  4. The Stigma exists because of the problems created for families and the bipolar patient themselves when they refuse to take the right medications and instead chose mania or lack of stability or don’t go to therapy for the bahavioral manifestations etc. That’s how stigma happens. So there are two sides to it – the bipolar sufferers who do everything they can and go to therapy and get on the right meds and take them faithfully and the the other side where there is noncompliance, violence and fear generated in others from the bahaviors exhibited by the bipolar sufferer.

  5. And there is also the stigma that some people with mental illness like to hide behind, like “i’m bipolar i can’t help it, it’s just who i am” when they sure can help it by being on the right meds, not manipulating their doctors, and going to therapy so their families can stand being around them and they can be productive functional adults.

  6. Its sad, I know sort how he feels.My family does not support me, they pretend theres nothing wrong we me.Its difficult because you want there support so much,but I’ve learned to deal with it without them.Sometimes I just want to give up, but I have one person my psychotherapist that I can count on to help out.Hang in there and try to not listen to them. I know its hard.

  7. As a supporter of someone with this unasked for and many times debilitating disease, it breaks my heart to know that anyone would blame someone for something they cannot control! My supportee has dealt with this all of his life for himself and also his father and sister, and many times asks why God would allow certain people to live with such pain in their lives. His ex wife, with whom he shares a daughter with, has blamed and actually tortures him ever since a horrible episode he had 3 years ago, which landed him in jail. Knowing him for over 20 years, and being totally aware of his condition, has lied to the court system about child support, back child support, and the safety of his child to keep him away from her. He is in constant fear of going back to jail, as he has been trying to get disability, just to pay his child support. All of his adult life has struggled with maintaining a job, and the stresses with just that alone, not to mention fearing being caught in the system~again! People with a mental illness, DO NOT belong in jail, and our so called justice systems, should be trained on characteristics of this disorder. I am thankful that he was able to withstand 11 weeks there, as I feared him taking his own life because of it. Although our relationship is in jeapardy of ending because HE feels he cannot maintain ANY relationship with a woman. I find it hard myself at times, because it is very hard to understand for himself, much less for myself. I just wish others would TRY to understand it, for the sake of someone like him, who longs for a normal life. It’s comforting knowing that others feel and go through some of the same tragedies as he has. I pray everyday for his safety and happiness in his life, as he truly deserves it.


  9. No dave or mem day is not to day in the UK. I dont no what I would do if I were geting punished all the time I would probly crack up.
    Take Care Linda x

  10. I know how this man must feel. I have a 28 year old daughter who is bi-polar since 14 (that I know of) and then got into the drugs after she graduated from high school. She had a baby when she was 15 and my husband and I are raising her and then a son she had when in prison for a year for drugs and we are raising him. When she got out, our family (except me) didn’t want anything to do with her. She was 19. With no support, she turned back to the drugs. Since then she has had 2 other children (boy and girl) and now separated from her husband. She has been off and on the drugs all these years. She has gotten medicine, but doesn’t take it faithfully and I never know for sure when she is having an episode or on the drugs. I have helped her all I can, but have probably helped too much too. I can see the pain in her eyes because her Dad and brother won’t talk to her and her sister just puts up with her. I wish they could try to understand that it isn’t all her fault and that it is a disease and not just the drugs. Her oldest daughter is having problems because she doesn’t understand either, but how could she. She is only 13 and if an adult can’t understand how does a teenager. That also hurts my daughter because of how her oldest daughter treats her. It is just a vicious circle. For my husband, the hurt is having to raise two of her kids and the money that she has cost us. He doesn’t believe in mental health and thinks that if she wanted to straighten up, then she would. How am I suppose to deal with her and him both? I am hanging on by a thread.

  11. This article goes farther than just family. My best friend who I am helping get the help he needs for his disease, is going through a bad spell with doctors. I finally got him to go to the psychiatrist, she wanted to put him on lamictal. His insurance does not kick in until he pays $3,800 in deductable for meds. Also, the side effects concerned him. When he went back to this doctor and told her about his inability to pay and his concerns on the side effects she berated him as a “bad” patient. Someone who challenges the doctors orders and is mad at everybody. He was scared and concerned but wanting to get the help she offered. I was there in the room with them. I was appalled. She decided to put him on abilify and said she had several patients who couldn’t afford it and would provided him with samples, as she has with them for “years”, until he could find a way to pay for the deductable. The next appointment she told him she would not provide it because his insurance would cover it and wouldn’t give him the samples she promised. He subsequently crashed off the abilify. We have been trying to get him supplemental coverage adn a new psychiatrist of which no one can get him in earlier than 3 months. His general doctor just berated him for not seeing a new psychiatrist (he’s in the same office as the one that wouldn’t help him). There is a new psych at that office that we got an appointment with 3 months in the future, I tried to get him in earlier with this doctor but the nurse who said she would talk to the doctor to see what he could do for an earlier appointment never called back. I called her 3 days later and she said she hadn’t had time to talk to the doctor but it was still on her list. His general doctor then berated both of us because he see’s it that we aren’t doing anything. Then yesterday, 2 weeks from the appointment with the new psych, we got a call postponing the appointment for additional two weeks. On top of the red tape and people we are having to deal with trying to get public services, oblivious nurses and a GP who thinks berating a BiPolar in deep depression is the way to go…my best friend is deffinitely feeling like there is a stygma applied to him becasue the depression is keeping him from fully functioning but the doctors think he is lazy and difficult because WE ask questions. I am dealing with major deprssion myself and as stable as ever..but.., had to sell my house and am in the middle of moving us AND helping my buddy get what he needs to survive this disease. When even the doctors don’t take this disease seriously,or they don’t want to be involved for fear of liability, I can understand why people give up. Something I will not let my best friend do I assure you. But people who have lots of money and/or don’t have a mental disease have no idea how horribly difficult it is just to get help, let alone trying to keep hope alive.

  12. My family have been blaming my daughter for having BP( she has been diagnosed with BP) for 2 years ( and they still do) and so did I to start off with: it is a hard habit to get rid of. I believe now that my daughter would be dead today if I hadn’t found out about BP( knowledge does set you free) if I hadn’t stopped fearing my daughter and if I hadnt switched from seeing her as the problem to seeing the BP as the enemy.
    I have no knowledge what it is like to be stigmatized like my daqughter has been and I have enormous respect nowe, for her courage and grit and will power under what has to be enormous odds. She has come back from the very edge of hell. I love my daughter

  13. I understand first hand the stigma of being bipolar. I once had a job as a legal secretary/receptionist, that I got through a State agency that allowed my employer a 50% tax break for hiring me. When he asked what my “disability” was, I told him it was akin to epilepsy! This was back in 1986, after my diagnosis of “manic depression.” Well, the job worked out for awhile, until it became harder and harder for me to understand SpreadSheets in the office. My boss called me in his office, and said I was fired. I then told him I was manic depressive – and he told me if he had known THAT, he NEVER would have hired me (although my skills were the same as if I were “normal”!). He told me he had had some friends/acquaintances with manic depression, and he “couldn’t stand them!” So – I was out of a job at a time I couldn’t afford to be. So much for prolonging the agony of truth…

    And my own Mother didn’t understand my diagnosis. She said no daughter of her’s was a “mani-ac,” skewing the word “maniac” from “manic.” But – I think her treating me as “normal” was the BEST thing she could have done. Although it didn’t prevent me from having two manic episodes while she was alive, she kept taking me back after getting out of the hospital, and taking care of me during my recovery. To this day, I bless my Mom for her “intestinal fortitude.”

    Hope every American is enjoying their cook-outs and backyard picnics this Memorial Day. Lest we forget those who have fought and died for our Freedom, we set apart this day to remember…

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

  14. I am not one bit surprised that it is close family that would stigmatise someone with bipolar. You can’t choose your family, but you choose your friends. And you don’t become friends if you don’t understand and accept each other. As mental illness is often in the genes, parents especially worry if their child is diagnosed. They suspect or accuse each other. “I’ve never done xyz, he must get that from you!” etc. My boyfriend inherited his bipolar from his grandfather. At least 2 of his siblings also have it.

    My family have never understood me and tried to change me into what I couldn’t be. Nobody else in my family is nocturnal – I’m the first. It may not be hereditary and it is not a certifiable illness, but many people consider it to be abnormal. I have had my fair share of stigma to deal with, too. You don’t have to have bipolar to get people prejudiced against you. You get as much prejudice and stigma if you are attached to someone with bipolar. Before I met my current boyfriend (bipolar) I had been married to a man with bipolar. My mother has always felt that I was a bit weird. Now my “strange attraction to mental patients” seem to confirm this. My life is not easy, but at least it is never dull. only last week my boyfriend plunged into a deep depression. So we postponed our weekend away we had planned. I got depressed and upset myself to see him so unhappy. It happened very suddenly, as he had been very cheerful the night before. He is slowly getting better. It’s very difficult to make plans with bipolar.

  15. I have to say thank you to all the people that have written in to say that they are there for the person in their life who suffer with bipolar, I wish more people understood it. I kept my disorder from everyone except my husband for a while and I can tell you I wish I never come out and told anyone, since the day I told people I have been judged. My husband has no idea of the disorder and refuses to try and understand what I go through. I understand that there are people who are not trying to help themselves but you can never, never judge anyone unless you have experienced what they have. I have gone through many problems in my life but I can tell you trying to deal with bipolar is the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. I wish everyday that I would wake up in the morning and it’s all just a dream, some people might think that I’m in denial but I know the person that thinks that does not have an understanding of bipolar. I recently went for a scan on my brain and when I was in their I was praying that they would find a tumor cause I know they can fix that and know that everyone would then understand. I know for a fact that people are going to say how could you say that but all I can say is YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I have had enough of trying to get help and just getting know where. I search the internet for support and ideas on how I can help myself and all I see is how it affects the family and their loved ones. Yep since I have had this disorder it’s always been about the other person how hard it is on them how it affects them. All I can say is if you do have a family member or a friend who understands and helps you deal with your struggle hold on to that and thank god every day for that gift cause I would give anything to have that. For the people who criticise people with the disorder I just hope one day you do understand and truly understand just how much of a battle it is everyday.

  16. This is such a complicated disease. A”friend” probably does not live with the bp person. It is a nightmare at times and until you have walked in the shoes of a supporter-PLEASE do not be too harsh. My heart aches with the criticism and pain that I get from my husband. He is medicated but the years of unmedicated left scars we both have problems with. I liked the comment of how bp can be manipulative and like self pity. This seems to be very true. We who have stood by our loved ones (and many times I have asked why) deserve a little kind word!!

  17. The lady who says to walk in the shoes of a supporter is right. Also it can take it’s toll after many years of the nightmare before you feel that way so the girl who wrote about a relationship that sounds relatively new and was defending the bipolar in her life I just want to wish you luck with him but you may want to rethink things and let him go if he wants to for your own sake now. While you are likely a genuine loving person just like the rest of us were when we started out on this journey you may find eventually being taken for granted may just wear you out. It is a thankless relationship for many of us. But at times I think some people feel fulfilled by doing all the giving which is a whole different situation that likely requires therapy. Many times we remain due to the committment we took and our sense of decency and our humanity or as is mostly likely the case, we have kids and you are rather torn as staying or leaving presents many issues. I agree with the person who commented about the stigma originating from the actions of the bp themselves. They will manipulate and be none compliant with their drugs and not consider the ramifications to those around them. Remember if they are stable when they make that decision to stop taking medication they really don’t deserve much sympathy as they are making those decisions while in a state of mind where they know better and know what they are about to do and are doing it anyhow. Selfish? absolutely. I guess ultimately there is a limit to the sympathy/accountibility thing. They cannot and should not be allowed to just wreak havoc as like the rest of us we have to consider the needs of others and they are not exempt from that just because they have an illness. If they have qualified appropriate help and supporters then they have more than many have but amazingly they will still feel sorry for themselves and mess up your best laid plans if the notion takes them.

  18. The old saying “a little understanding goes a long way” is a very appropriate appreciation of your e-mails, Dave…giving timely little insights into this illness and a reassuring feeling that someone truly understands some of the complex situations we find ourselves in, after years of misjudgement especially from the very people who are supposed to be able to help.
    We have a very strong family history of bi-polar and depression.
    We sought medical help for our daughter at age 14,after repeated lying, stealing, verbal abuse, a paranoid view of our family..especially towards myself and her sister..leading to a threatening with a knife, doing an embezzlement on the church we were attending..and two of her friends. Our family was blamed!
    At eighteen she became pregnant, and we have the utmost respect for her for having this beautiful baby in extremely difficult and lonely circumstances. We supported her totally throughout the pregnancy then both of them after. She left home officially 2 years ago leaving our grandson in our care. Living with a man. Been on drugs and mixing with some dangerous people.
    Supported her through extreme depressive episodes…recently suicidal after losing her 6th job and not able to find work..in extreme debt.
    I spent 2 days and nights on the phone trying to track the psychologist and GP she told me she was seeing….more lies! Because she was threatening suicide, amazingly most receptionists waived the Privacy garbage and checked their records, but when I finally got the right bloke and he was willing to talk to the Mental Access team I hit a brick wall…intake officer saying she could be doing exactly the same thing to me saying I need help!!! She was only behaving the way she did because I ALLOWED it!
    Her little boy is the most precious, bright little man with medical and psychological problems because of the instability, anger and erratic behaviour this condition brings.
    We watched with broken hearts,trying to contact her on Mother’s Day, as he sat on the front steps with his present,waiting for his Mum who wouldn’t come. After we finally connected late arvo, and she finally said she wouldn’t come, he went into a rage for days. I copped bruises to the head as hae threw as many missiles as he could at me…and another smashed glass frame. He has a record 10 deliberately broken windows in his short 4 years…all after his Mum “messed up again” in his words.
    Thankfully his Mum came with him to his psychologist last week, and when all the paranoid speels about her bad, unsupportive family, who treat her like “crap” and blame her for everything, the therapist was able to grasp the reality and truth of our situation.
    Really sadly..our daughter refuses to seek help for herself (although she has lied..one time leading us to believe she was actually being admitted to hospital..she wasn’t)
    My husband had gone guarantor for her buying an expensive car in one of her manic spending sprees and for past year we have been struggling to make her payments as well as our own commitments, in order not to lose our home. On Friday she cleaned out my wallet while here, even after I had given her $40 and to top it off she stole all of my grocery money on my birthday leaving us without some staple items!
    We have to be on alert 24/7…we love her, but have absolutely no trust because of her illness.
    We have 8 people living at home, all affected by this wicked illness and the heartbreaking roller coaster it brings.
    I know this is a long comment but the terms “unsupportive families” and “scapegoat” just press these buttons in me raising the grief, the heartbreak and unfairness of having our situation presented as such to anyone who would listen to her….I forgive…but the pain takes a long time to heal, especially when the wounding is constantly repeated.
    It’s been helpful to me, to read of others in similar situations….knowing, yes they would relly understand!
    Keep up the good work Dave!
    Kia Kaha….Maori for- God is with you on the journey (and how we SO need Him!)
    Warm regards

  19. Hi Dave, this is the first time I’ve posted but just had to after reading todays email.

    Last fall my 36 year old daughter decided that I was so unstable that I needed to get OFF all my meds before I can see my by my emotions!. I was not even in an episode, everything was going along fine for a while, then she tottally turned on me this time. She doesn’t even answer my calls. She thinks this disease is controlable by my emotions!

    I live alone, in the woods, know no one where I live, and have no support. I need a new doctor and therapist since I moved here in November after a divorce last June. November was when my son-in-law kicked me out of the house I was renting from them, next door to them.

    I feel like a leper most of the time and I have recently developed agoraphobia also.

  20. Yes absolutely “anyone who would listen to them”. You know that this is what a bipolar will do to garner sympathy for themselves and if you don’t realize it yet you haven’t been exposed to the disease long enough. I see how they feed off of the comforting words of strangers who supposedly understand them better than you do even though you are there day in and day out. They don’t think twice about recreating themselves to strangers or to find a soft shoulder to cry on of a person who doesn’t have to live with the fall out of financial devastation, marital unfaithfulness, constant outlandish accusations of your misdeeds towards them (paranoid), illogical insane arguments when they are in the throws of mania, the next job loss, picking up the slack in the family (child rearing) and on and on it goes. And you can’t just walk away it isn’t that simple. If you are just starting with this road and you aren’t sure step back and read about it. You might bring fresh air to the situation at first but eventually you will be the person who dives in to save a drowning person and they will take you under attempting to save themselves if you don’t bring a life preserver with you. Even with a life preserver if it may not be enough.

  21. I have had Bipolar since I was 17 now I am 29. My family does not understand Bipolar. Partly because they are not educated about the disorder, second because it can be very scarry when you are manic, or depressed. So if you have someone in your life who tries hard to understand and be there for you, cherish that person. I’ve been like the black sheep of my family because of my disorder. People stay away from me, and I have a large family, mostly of women. And you would think women would be the ones to stick together. I have learned to be alone more. But I am a writer. That helps me not to be alone. So if you have a love of art or whatever focus on that, and you won’t need people to accept you so much.I write poetry, books, and short stories. Alot of it is about Bipolar. My two books are based on my life from childhood, up to about 25 dealing with Bipolar. I am not published, or have no agent. But when my writngs come out they will help alot of people with the disorder, and also family members understand. Understand the pain we go through, the suffering. Most people could not live with what we have to deal with.

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