Snowballs and Bipolar Disorder


How’s it going? I hope you’re having a good day.

I want you to think about a snowman. It doesn’t start off that big, does it? It starts off as a small snowball. Then you roll it and roll it and roll it and the next thing you know you’ve got this big ball that becomes a snowman.

Now, I’m not a liar. Why am I not a liar, and what does that have to do with snowballs and


I choose not to lie, because you start off with one small lie, and before you know it, you’re telling

other lies to cover up that one small lie and it all blossoms until you’ve got a huge lie going on, just like how that one little snowball becomes that great big snowman.

It’s the little things that make up the big things. But if they’re caught right in the beginning, they don’t have a chance to grow so big.

What does all this have to do with bipolar disorder? You need to take care of the little things.

Your loved one doesn’t just wake up one morning and all of a sudden they’re in a bipolar episode.

It just doesn’t happen that way, any more than a snowman just builds itself.

A bipolar episode is made up of a bunch of smaller things that happen over a period of time.

So let’s talk about that.

Let’s say that your loved one decides they don’t like taking their medication. They don’t want to take it any more. But they’ve heard the scare stories about what happens if you go off your medication completely. So they just take it sometimes, and not other times. They just start skipping some doses. Or they take some of their medication, but not others.

And let’s say that they start missing some of their appointments. They’re supposed to go to see their therapist every week. But they start going every 2 weeks. Then every 3 weeks.

And they’re supposed to go to see their psychiatrist every 2 months. But they skip an appointment. So now it’s been 4 months since they’ve seen their psychiatrist.

And they used to go to their bipolar support group every month. But they haven’t gone for the past few months. And they haven’t talked to anyone from the support group, either. Not like they used to. So they’ve been pretty isolated.

They don’t go out with any of their friends, either, which they used to do.

They basically just stay at home. And even at home they really don’t do much of anything.

They don’t even go to their volunteer job any more.

The phone calls stop coming.

They get more and more depressed.

Can you see how this has “snowballed?”

They didn’t just wake up depressed one day. It was made up of a lot of little things that

happened over time. But the next thing you know, they are in a bipolar depressive episode.

Can you see how easily this could happen?

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


  1. Hi Dave, I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you sharing your knowledge of Bi-Polarism with folks. You have saved my sanity and perhaps my marriage and for sure you have helped my husband. By reading your e-mails each of us have been able to understand this challange better. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS,,,

  2. Do you know if there are any presidents to help me get custody of my Grandson from my Bipolar daughter. I have been her supporter for many years and I don’t think I can do it anymore. I want to make sure my 20 month old grandson stays safe and that she is able to see him when ever she wants but she is off the wall right now and I can’t bring her back to.

  3. I understand the “snowball effect.” Just this morning, I awoke to a very strange place – I hadn’t shut off the radio in the front room, I hadn’t cut off the lights in the hall, and I hadn’t had the ice cream that I usually eat before bedtime. It literally “spooked” me. I run on a routine, and when it shows up that that routine is not followed – I worry and “freak out.” I “could” have left a cigarette burning! It seems as if I ate my egg sandwich before bed – but not the ice cream. Now, I’ve been under a LOT of stress in the past six months, and I fear my bipolar is “creeping up on me.” I talked about it with two of my best friends, and they said “it was nothing.” But, like you say, things “snowball” and the next thing you know, you’re in a manic episode. I feel better tonight, and just HOPE nothing unusual happens when I take my meds and go to bed. Not realizing that I didn’t do the things I ALWAYS do after I take my meds, frightened me. “A creature of habit” just doesn’t “forget” to do the things that are important in my life. Perhaps it’s just a “wake-up call” for me to be more aware AFTER I take my night meds, and fall asleep with the lights OFF!!!

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

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