We as humans sometimes forget the damage our words can inflict. So, without being self-righteous, here are some things one should try to avoid saying to someone with bipolar disorder:
1. “I thought you were taking your medication.”
Although it’s not uncommon for someone with this illness to stop taking their medication once they feel they’re “better”, it’s usually not a topic of conversation that most people with bipolar disorder want to have or be accused of.
2. “You know he’s “bipolar,” don’t you?”
A comment like this can end up being counterproductive and even destructive. People with bipolar disorder don’t like to be reduced to their diagnosis.
3. “Everyone Is a Little Bipolar Sometimes”
This one can come across as really insensitive and is dismissive of a person’s experiences with this illness.
4. “We used to have high hopes for you.”
I mean, come on. It is NEVER a good idea to kill someone else’s dreams by being rude because one may have a mental illness.
5. “It doesn’t take much to set you off!”
Now this is a comment that clearly might set one off. Tearing someone down who may need you could trigger a bipolar episode, manic or depressive.
6. “Why can’t you just be happy?”
Oh, believe me, we try (and are still trying), but having a mood disorder defined by such highs and lows could quite possibly hinder someone’s happiness and overall mood.
7. “Everyone Is Bipolar Sometimes”
A turn of phrase that ends up coming across in an insensitive and dismissive way. Don’t generalize someone’s condition to try to make them feel better.
8. “You Don’t Seem Like You’re Bipolar”
The highs and lows associated with bipolar disorder come in cycles or episodes so there are periods of “normalcy” and being leveled out. Never assume that someone is okay because their symptoms aren’t obvious to you.
And now for my favorite…
10. You’re bipolar?
This comment can take the wind right out of my sails. Sometimes you feel comfortable and open enough to talk about your illness. But then you realize your family and friends are basing every action and reaction on your illness. Or is that my personal paranoia? That’s why that specific question/comment has always been hurtful and offensive.
Here is a list of 8 things from the article one should say to someone they know is suffering from bipolar disorder.
1. “This is a medical illness and it is not your fault.”
2. “I am here. We’ll make it through this together.”
3. “You and your life are important to me.”
4. “Tell me how I can help.”
5. “I might not know how you feel, but I’m here to support you.”
6. “Whenever you feel like giving up, tell yourself to hold on for another minute, hour, day — whatever you feel you can do.”
7.”You’re not alone.”
8. “Your illness doesn’t define who you are. You are still you, with hopes and dreams you can attain.”
Sticks and stones, right? Words can sometimes cause more damage than we intend, though. And this isn’t any kind of guilt trip; I only mean to help.
Be the positive, encouraging friend or family member to your loved one who is suffering from this disorder. There is no cure and there is no true recovery. There is only management.