Negative Stereotypes About Bipolar Disorder

The unfair treatment of individuals with severe mental illness has been linked to poorer physical and mental health outcomes. Additionally, anticipation of discrimination may lead some individuals to avoid participation in particular life areas, leading to greater isolation and social marginalisation. (study)

As if there weren’t enough self stigma, negatives and limitations built into having Bipolar Disorder, 21st century society sprinkles more upon us. I copy/pasted these from various sites. Whether you agree or disagree with various of them, I think we have to remember that they all dissuade people from getting a diagnosis, accepting it and being open about it.

So there’s an incendiary situation right there. It already takes an average of a decade to diagnose Bipolar – that’s a decade of untreated hell. Then there’s the fact that resistance to treatment (including meds) is potentially fatal for the sufferer. And that it affects everything and everyone around the sufferer. And and and …

One spends the pre-diagnosis time fighting one’s own personality and/or hiding and running from it. It’d take me a million years to show you what that part is like. Unless you’ve lived it (or something lile it), you can never know. Imagine the deconstruction of everything you are. Imagine how lost and lonely that feels.

Legally, Bipolar patients are denied security clearances as a matter of course, due to a perception of personal instability and bad moral conduct.
They may not serve in the armed forces or in the police.
They are almost universally denied life insurance at any realistic cost due to a perception that they are invariably suicidal, even though life insurance policies do not pay at all in cases of suicide. Public knowledge that an individual has ever been treated for the condition is seen as a near total bar to holding public office.
Medical treatment is often affected by a diagnosis of Bipolar, in many negative ways.

There are also the limitations that any chronically ill person has. There’s stuff we can’t do and there are ways we manage our days and nights in the context of the disorder and its medication. And there are the variations in cognitive functioning (that one really, really hurts).

People make snap judgments about Bipolar (and everything else), not out of malice, but because we are now far enough along the info superhighway for it to be habit. We ‘know’ a lot, because we have lots of Information McNuggets bouncing round the porous cyberpunk borders between our brains and machines. So people think they understand Bipolar when they don’t.


The drugs they take are associated in pop culture with angst and inner turmoil (Nirvana’s album Lithium, being a prominent reference).
Bipolar people get addicted to their meds.
The condition’s name is often used to describe mercurial indivduals who clearly do not have the disorder.
Bipolar Disorder is a cop out.
People with Bipolar are dangerous.
Bipolar people shouldn’t have children.
People with Bipolar Disorder having either a manic or depressive episode can “think positive and snap out of it” if they really try.
Bipolar Disorder is characterized by frequent mood swings. That’s usually false.
People with bipolar disorder are incapable of committing romantically.
Negative behaviors people with bipolar disorder do are within their control.

Some of the loveliest people I know think ‘blaming’ anything on Bipolar is a cop out. And I’ve tugged my forelock and doffed my cap in time to their misconceptions, because I have felt, every time, that to do otherwise would sound wrong, that it’d be the sort of self defence that shouldn’t be necessary. Nod nod nod yes I’m an ass … got so much experience at that speech anyway, it costs little to deliver. After a childhood of abuse and catholicism, and an adulthood full of PTSD and untreated Bipolar, I’d cheerfully claim responsibility for anything and everything (tbh doing so is an effective cop out too).

I guess I’m also so used to homophobia that the oh em gee the weather is bipolar stuff is just a milder version of the same ole thang. I have zero faith in utopian versions of human nature.

Frankly I’m having too much trouble with this manyheaded monster myself to concern myself with educating anyone else. That’s another reason I store my stuff here – it’s my space and nobody shits on me. \o/

I wrote this too: 17 negative stereotypes about bipolar disorder.


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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

40 thoughts on “Negative Stereotypes About Bipolar Disorder”

  1. Interesting. I have been having another “fuming about how I have been ignored/shunned by my employer” day. With another diagnosis you would get support, with mental illness you get pushed away. I was listening to a documentary on the radio about a lady who had made this amazing recovery from some kind of brain injury with all this fabulous support from family, friends, students etc. I thought that people who have a mental illness and then are diagnosed with something else – say cancer for example – go into that second diagnosis with a support system already reduced by the mental illness. Any wonder outcomes aren’t as good?

    Makes me very angry. :(

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You know my dear friend, I had this gut feeling we would be pals and I reached out first and wrote that post about you, long before you revealed this great side of yours. Great because you dish it out as is and you do it with passion.

    It’s high time we kept the steam and unfortunately/fortunately, people like Robin keep shaggies and our struggles in the limelight. I guess you get the picture am making above.

    Now, I will against all call for prudence and blah bla from my ‘family’, keep up my posts, u tubes and all. I do it for me, for my late brother, for us all. I am happy my mum is gradually understanding I am not putting my mask on again.

    I just finished reading a book yesterday and I was as often, so so touched. A mum and her Schizoprenic boy, she was so accused and the medics cared as less as usual – sure a review will one day appear on my blog (all living equal right?)

    In that book, the boy’s sister wrote a few touching lines: “If David had Cancer and his body was sick, people will send cards and flowers; Now David’s mind is sick, people throw bricks”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Hey missed you.
    First question, what do you go by on here, as a name? Ok blahpolar for sure.

    Loved, loved this post. Yes, yes, and yes. To everything you wrote.

    I will tell you I had only one friend, and even she did not stick around without getting what she could, but she at least watched some documentary about bipolar, probably because it was already on tv, and came to my house in tears. She said I need to apologize to you. Said she had just watched this show and never realized how much I had to deal with and was sorry for doubting me and what I had said. (rolling eyes right now, as she had said this about my domestic violence relationship as well until he was kicking in the door and she was present..hmmm) this so much, what you wrote

    Love your blog….


    Liked by 3 people

  4. One of the best young men I know experiences bipolar and is actually managing very successfully without medication (I forget his reasoning about why this is possible for him). He is a social worker and is doing amazing work with other individuals who have mental health issues. He’s funny, loving, intelligent and a survivor.

    Thanks for spreading awareness!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. great insightful piece. I am thinking there are many levels of each mental disorder. I take no meds now. There were periods that I did in the 70’s. Don’t remember much of that period. Each of us has to deal with it the best we can. I was denied long term insurance. I think they are afraid we will try to kill ourselves and live and be injured in such a way that we will need to be medically cared for for the rest of your lives. Insurance does not like to insure people with dementia.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Slapping knee and screaming ‘hallalluja’ to self! Loved the post. Someone else that writes for them, just because!!!!! Love it….


  7. Meant to say someone that writes ‘just for themselves’, meaning to get your thoughts straight and to say what you like!! Me too…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I just re-read this post . It is very well written. It mentions some myths that I knew and some that are so awful they never would have even occurred to me. I have a very good friend who is bipolar and she is an excellent mother – better than many that I see.
    She is an excellent friend to me and certainly has the capacity for friendship as well as romantic relationship.
    She is also an excellent nurse – again, better than many that I know

    Liked by 1 person

  9. when I first got out of high school in 2004, I wanted to go in the armed service. however, I was on medication for my depression (my bipolar diagnosis occurred a few years later), and was thus denied. they requested I get off the meds so I could join, as otherwise I was a very desirable candidate.

    but I knew what happens to me when not on meds — so yeah, the armed forces dream went promptly out the window…. :(


    1. That’s awful – I think you made the right choice now. Weird of them to want an unmedicated bipolar person more than a medicated one.


  10. Love, love, love this post! I am a proponent that trying to surround ourselves with positive things/thoughts and especially people can ”help” – but snap out of?! Bwahahaha… I’d like to see how long those people would survive and strive with bipolar. As you so eloquently pointed out, we not only have to deal with stigma but with outright attacks on our rights and dignity.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thanks for “yelling.” So-called “normal or sane” people have little to be proud of in how nasty they are, not only toward people who are different like us, but to each other! People loved my “manic” self until I was diagnosed, then they disappeared as if I had the plague. Did you know that bipolar can be associated with Asperger’s?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I get so frustrated with wordpress: learning how to do every little thing requires finding an outside source for “tricks” to get things to work. I’ll check into reblogging. As it is now I’m having to copy paste anything I want to place into my posts! I’m following you too!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Bipolar people should not have children…Yeah, I’ve heard that before. Personally, I think my borderline mother did more damage than I could ever do with my bipolar.
    And yeah, I was undiagnosed for 13 years. They called it dysthymia, pumped me full of anti depressants (thus sparking manic episodes) and I lost years of my life, sanity, and burned too many bridges to ever rebuild.
    Now I have this complex diagnosis of bipolar two, with cyclothymic shifts, which means I don’t fit the book categories therefore it must all be my mercurial personality and failure to take personal responsibility.
    Well written post, by the way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks very much – this is my most popular post so far, which I think is really sad. Google sends visitors here daily still.

      Poor you, with that diagnosis. Since you’ve shown me yours I’ll show you mine *rolls eyes at self* I have continuous and rapid cycling bipolar I with mixed and psychotic features. At least it falls nicely into a category. Do you ever experience euthumia? Have you ever experienced it? That’s the state that fascinates me the most :/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So that means a non depressed normal state? Hmm…I guess I have periods like that, but they never last more than a few days and that’s only when the stars, moon, sun, and meds align.
        I envy your ability to write in such a concise manner and you patience in research. My mind is like a thousand ping pong balls bouncing around and I can’t seem to grab one and hold onto it so my writing is…Well, random, like me. The only reason I consider it remotely good is because, well, I’ve won author contests and had poetry published, and also…It’s honest. No pretense, no “let me pretend to be professional and impress others.”
        I write what I know, for better or worse.
        Still…I wish I had the lucidity and focus to write more like you do.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Well you’re several up on me with the author and poet stuff :) I’ve been writing and editing for a long time, being uncreative (in relative terms) and basically just seeing it as a trade, same as carpentry, means I never get writer’s block. And I’m simply very fucking verbose anyway :) thanks v much for the compliment. What’s euthymia like? How does it feel and how do you recognise it?


          1. It feels like…slow traffic on a sunny morning with warmth and hope. It sounds cheesy but you wake up feeling that way for a week or two or three…The extremes of bipolar really make it seem like an idea state.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. That sounds lovely! I asked my shrink how I’d recognise it and she said, “you won’t at first, but other people will see it “. I’ve never ever experienced euthymia – fanks a lot and very much for describing it to me :)


        2. LOL You are right …the Stars, Moon , Sun and meds align very rarely! I like your line about things aligning. Every day is an unknown and I never know how I am, when I first wake up. I usually feel panic upon waking, and I realize that a lot of that is PTSD. But what I am thinking in the morning is “I wonder how I feel and think today. I wonder how my brain will work today. WIll it be a day that I have to try to avoid people or can I appear normal and be able to have a conversation with someone. It is very lonely. And the stars, the moon , the sun and the meds align the way they feel like it, beyond my control…


  14. Ha. I’m having too much trouble with side effects (prediabetec and tardive dyskinesia) and struggling for survival to care about the stereotypes. I’m never invited to family gatherings and that tells the entire story.


    1. Those are vile side effects, I’m so sorry you have to deal with such serious problems. I’ve been lucky with the physical stuff (bar lithium, but that’s months ago now) and right now my main issue is cognitive dysfunction to the extent that I can’t work. Can’t get disability either. I don’t know how I’d cope with your stuff, it sounds truly hellish. And yes, stereotypes are very minor indeed by contrast.


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