Grow Up and Never Say These 6 Things To a Person With Bipolar
Bipolar does not make someone ‘crazy’. Their brain just works differently from yours.
Globally 1 in 4 people will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives: World Health Organisation.
Yet, mental illness is still used as catchphrases to joke about people. Your ex was so bipolar because the relationship was full of ups and downs? Your sister is OCD because she matches her shoes with her outfit? And your friend who doesn’t agree with you is totally psychotic!
In the age of trolls, language is an important thing. And language is utterly important when it comes to mental health. Words can make someone feel amazing and hopeful or perpetuate stigma and stereotypes.
Here are some pointers on what NOT to say to someone with bipolar:
1. You’re So Bipolar
Nope. People are not bipolar. They have it. Period.
In the same way, as a visibly frail, sick person is not “AIDS”, or “cancer”. Never.
Because an illness, mental or physical, is not who the person is, it is a part of who they are. So grow up and expand that vocabulary. Mental illness is not to be used as an insult. Ever.
2. Mania Is Fun, Right? I’d Like That Crazy High Too!
A manic mood might also encompass supreme boredom.
It’s not all bright and fun. In reality, mania can be pretty agitating, exhausting, nerve-wracking, frantic and anxious.
People might feel so distraught that they wish to jump out of their own skin. One can make bad decisions, say inappropriate things to people they love and not realise it one bit because irrationality takes over. And this can go on and on for several weeks or even months before the loneliness and the depression comes to engulf.
3. I Might Have It Too!
Maybe that’s your childish way of showing kindness by trying to find a common ground or you actually have low days and better ones, but bipolar disorder is not just feeling fed up or low.
PS: If you really think you have it, seek psychiatric help and not reply on someone’s testimony.
4. You’re a Ticking Time Bomb
A mental illness does not make someone a landmine!
You can act normally and not behave like you’re walking on eggshells around someone with the diagnosis. Keep calm, they are not wild, hormonal teenagers with anger issues who will explode if you do one thing wrong.
5. But You Don’t Seem Bipolar At All
Clearly your view of the extremities of bipolar have been shaped by the movies. There is nothing subtle about mania or hard-to-miss about weepy depression, you’d say. But in reality, bipolar occurs on a spectrum.
There can be people at work you’d never guess struggle with bipolar, who look and behave ‘normal’ because bipolar is not mood swings. It’s not happy one moment and weepy the next — the symptoms are far more extreme or even mild, lasting for weeks to months at a stretch.
There are four main types of bipolar:
Bipolar 1: The manic episodes are more common, people fly from one idea to the other, tend to make extremely irrational decisions, behave hyper-sexually and sometimes the symptoms are severe enough to require hospitalisation.
Bipolar 2 : Both the poles of bipolar are experienced but neither is full-blown.
Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS): This does not fit squarely into type 1 or type 2 but still lies on the spectrum. So an OCD plus social phobia or alcohol dependence with depression can all be classified by the psychiatrist as BP-NOS.
Cyclothymia: Mood swings are not as severe as type 1 and 2 but can be as long as two years.
6. Do You Still Have It? Or Are You Cured?
Anyone with a mental illness is never really cured nor can they snap out of it on their own will. People are in remission for years and even decades, learn to manage it and lead a balanced life with the help of medication (there are drugs to treat you but finding the right one is not easy), counselling, proper sleep,exercise and meditation. But it’s there for life.
By 2020, mental illnesses and substance abuse will be a far greater cause of disability than all physical illnesses combined: World Health Organisation.
If you know someone who has mental health issues or could do better with an expert analysis, do approach a psychiatrist at a big hospital. Timely intervention can save lives.
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