we know more about bipolar than they do

So I was on my own couch this morning, waking up and waiting for my lift to the therapist’s couch (fail, it’s an armchair) and I started this post with absolutely no end goal. It meandered along, doing its own thing. I’m up and down like a rentboy’s boxers today, so if it’s all fractured and nonsensical, fear not, I feel that feel too.


Here’s yer song for today, it has zero relevance, it’s just a song (particularly this version of it) that I love to bits. Take it away Dre.

I’ve seen a few blogs lately, where people have said they’ve been diagnosed with ‘bipolar and depression’. I thought that depression, when present, was simply included in the bipolar fun-bundle? That said, there seem to be a lot of diagnostic inconsistencies, and I assume it’s because there are many descriptors that are very close. I read a post about the difference between mixed episodes and rapid cycling, for example, which seemed like comparing apples and pears to me. Cycling describes frequency, mixed describes moods – yes it covers their frequency too, but a mixed episode is just one aspect of bipolar, the frequency of shifts within them doesn’t necessarily match those of hypomania or mania, or depression. I know that bipolar is a right royal bastard to diagnose, but it would help if they’d stop shifting the goalposts. Some of the changes appear to be DSM idiocy, rather than research based facts.

‘Bipolar is manageable,’ is in all the handouts, but when you start reading, rather few of us feel that our bipolar is managed. Celebrities tend to claim they’re cool or cured (except the king and Queen of bipolar, Stephen and Carrie), but aren’t they saying that to protect their images and careers? We might say it in job interviews too, but then we go undercover and weep online. Well, I do anyway. ‘Don’t worry,’ I was told, ‘the difficulties with reading, writing and memory will come right when the meds do’. Yet I prowl blogs and very soon I think the professionals are softsoaping me and whitewashing bipolar, in order to keep my chin up and my wrists from being sliced.

Personally, I’d rather people used the same ‘recovery’ criteria as they do for grief. It’s there, it’ll always be there; you might be able to manage it, but there is absolutely no guarantee. Side effects of medication often feel way worse than mood shifts. The suicide stats are alarmingly high and so the disorder should be treated far more seriously. There is no recovery; people using ‘recovery’ and ‘chronic illness’ in the same breath, are using words inaccurately. I’d rather be told that there are potentially lethal consequences, than feel inadequate because my experience doesn’t fit in with the whole positive thinking, gung ho spin. Realist doesn’t equal pessimist.


‘I’ll make sure you’ll live till you’re 90,’ said one medical professional, and I thought, ‘dear god, no, why would anyone wish that on me?’ And I’m not even a suicide risk. Another 40 plus years of this crap, along with the physical and mental lasting damage that goes with it? Fuck the fuck right off. I’ve had a few days of hypomania recently, and before it hurtled into mania, it was the best time I’d had in a year or so. I’m 44 and much of my life has been that way and it’s hard. ‘We can do hard things,’ quoth Alan Packer, ‘it’s the impossible that takes a little longer.’ more bs, frankly. We can do hard things and thank fuck for that fact, but if we describe things we can do with more difficulty as impossible, then we’re treating ourselves like imbeciles with no command of our own damn language. I guess he raided this for it anyway.

Yet again I shall quote Queen Carrie…

“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

Well said (and do not get pissy about the soldier comparison unless you’re a bipolar soldier – which isn’t ideal, since they don’t like bipolars in this man’s army), I wish everyone would read and believe that quote.

Please do not assume that because you have brains, that you understand our brains. It’s like the difference between watching a wildlife documentary on the Discovery Channel, and standing unarmed, face to face with a lion. I mean it. I know that we have moods and that you do too, but their cause and experience are so far from yours. We usually don’t understand your moods either, by the way. Know thyself, babies, and let us teach you about bipolar, rather than the other way around. Don’t be so arrogant until you get your PhD in psychiatry, mkay? (That rant was caused by a blog post that none of you wrote, that irked me.)

I think the notion of beating bipolar causes more feelings of inadequacy than it inspires focus and determination, because it’s a lie. To plagiarise a cliché, if you can’t beat it, join it. Learn to live with the monster, using every single tool at your disposal. Aim for a good remission, which although it could very well be finite, is both positive and possible. I’d rather not feel as though I’m failing to make the grade, thanks very much; it’s that kind of thing that causes despair and we know the places despair tends to go. Some things are improving for me, and some are on the decline. Let’s be straightforward in dealing with that please.


People are all entitled to their perceptions and misconceptions, a willingness to learn would be great, but professionals who take money for treatment and medication, or wind chimes and snake oil, are bloody well not entitled to any of that. They need to listen to us, their patients and consumers, their clients and all too often, their victims. We can’t do their jobs, but we can see as hell help – and I reckon we’d all be incredibly motivated to do so. I don’t want to feel like an unstable failure, I want to feel like a human being with stuff to be treated for and worked on.

Let’s go and yell at people about it, who’s with me? And by ‘yell’, I mean ‘be heard’. Simple as that.

Some other time though, the latest hypo phase just ended and now I’m



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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

60 thoughts on “we know more about bipolar than they do”

  1. My newest shrink says all my agitation and anxiety are hypomania. My old doctors told me hypomania was just productive energy. I haven’t a bloody clue because these professionals have me so confused. Don’t get me started on the personality disorder stuff, counselors are even worse. I’ve decided to just admit I am fucked up due to wonky brain chemicals. No degree needed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Counsellors… I’ll only see clinical psychologists or psychiatric nurse counsellors. All the other shoowah hippies can gtfo. Fuckem. As for the diagnostics – not exactly a good example of professionalism izzit…


  2. Amiga mia, I’m on your side. Team Blah: rah rah rah. You’re probably humourless, but I see myself in a cheerleader’s outfit being really flexible and smiley. It’s an annoying image, but amuses me nonetheless. Thank you for sifting through all the info, critically assessing it and offering it to us. I’ve been humourless too these days. *Fist bump

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I read critically assessing as infinitely caressing – sometimes I truly adore the verbal fuckups my brain experiences. Thanks for the very kind comments and I’ll need a photo of your flexible smiley cheerleader mode asap.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Don’t be so arrogant until you get your PhD in psychiatry, mkay? <— I'm not sure they get to be so arrogant either, but at least they are more qualified!

    I'm with you. There are times that I start to read your posts and I'm like "Shit! I was gonna write this post!" I think I said that already…. However, I'm not sure I have much in me today. Just started a new med last night and it is kickin' the shit out of me today. Apparently……. the Good Doctors at my Psych Spa had a change of heart about my diagnosis and have decided that I should now be crowned Bipolar I…… along with that I have been experiencing "mixed episodes" apparently… not sure I needed to officially be told that……. I've lived this long not really knowing what was wrong with me. Crazy is crazy… All I know is it's not getting better. Different meds for different people… get it right so I can function…. sorta my motto. IDK.

    Mmmm… yeah… I'm rambling because I am lacking control of things with the new concoction running through my veins… sorry. Like the post… agree with you 100%! Thanks for writing it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good point re arrogance, definitely. There aren’t many things as obnoxious as an MD with a god complex. Congrats on the bipolar 1 and mixed episodes, you lucky, lucky woman. Thanks for the lovely compliment, hope the meds chill the fuck out soon.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. God. Today my feed is just filled with gems. I haven’t been able to say anything these days because the end product is “where is the exit” or “just kill me,” but you all are killing it with your posts. Reblogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Trash Diaries and commented:
    This is also true in my heart, something I’ve wanted to say, but since I am drowning in a severe depressive episode I’ll let Blah preach. Maybe she won’t like that particular word choice, but the image of Blah preaching this truth to the idiots makes me smile and I need my smiles.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So real, so full of the feelings of misunderstanding and frustration that I have come across with doctors and psychiatrists. I am so with you when it comes to having to put up with side effects to meds that can put you flat on your ass and yet the docs just keep fiddling with types and doses. Also been diagnosed bipolar II when the signs all scream bipolar I – does anyone know what they’re doing in the field of psychiatry??!

    My favorite part of your post is a section of the quote by Queen Carrie: ”At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.” I’m soooo sick of hearing about those few of us who try one med (usually lithium) and it changes their lives for the better for an extended period of time. I’ve gone through so many meds and combinations of meds and I still struggle. Great post,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was wondering about you the other day – you OK? You vanished on us for a couple of months there. Thanks for the comments, I often think I’ll end up being the only one who thinks/feels the stuff I post about, and of course I never am. And not that I’d wish bipolar on my worst enemy, but I rely heavily on the solidarity out here, it does me an enormous amount of good.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice to know someone gives a dang. Was really not well but doing better. I’m with you about feeling alone – you’re lucky because you get a lot of feedback on your posts. I know I get a boost when even a handful of people just click ”like”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Who knew the millennium falcon was English (and therefore repressed) :0 and thanks lots. Fry and Fisher sounds like some sort of very smart business. And tyvm :)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thought I saw a comment about healing and now I don’t see it, I must be going nuts (had har), anyway the definition fits your usage perfectly…





      the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.

      “the gift of healing”



      tending to heal; therapeutic.

      “a healing experience”

      synonyms:alleviate, ease, assuage, palliate, relieve, help, lessen, mitigate, attenuate, allay

      “time will heal the pain of grief”


  8. P.S. I’ve had second thoughts about using the word “healing” in my title (blog and booky wookie) but for me healing is an ongoing effort that will take a bloody lifetime. As long as I don’t use “recovery”, “cured” or “beating” I think I can stand behind “healing”.


  9. I am a happy user of Depakine. Could be worse. :) Don’t know what my point is though.

    “I’d rather be told that there are potentially lethal consequences, than feel inadequate because my experience doesn’t fit in with the whole positive thinking, gung ho spin. Realist doesn’t equal pessimist.” – Just a pick of the jummy. ;)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You know, at this moment I feel just fine. Then I remember that I was an anxious wreck for the last 24 hours worrying that for some reason my disability income would not be deposited (it was a few hours ago). I seem to be able to worry about anything that is not nailed down. And then I remember that there is no way in hell I could return to the job I used to work (or any job ATM). But I don’t feel as absolutely wrecked as I did this time last year. And so on.

    In any moment it is possible to think “I’m okay.” You may even be able to coast into denial like I did after many relatively stable years (ah but was I really living a normal well rounded life? I think not). And then the crash, the wake up call. That is the reality of “managing” with this blessed condition (read with satirical tone, please).

    I actually don’t think a lot about being bipolar. Instead I think about how much I depend on the added meds and hate the side effects. Semantic denial, n’est pas?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t remember how you’re being treated for anxiety? Clearly on of our first tasks will be to *Clint Eastwood pose* quickdraw the meds etc so we can see whose is bigger. Hahaha, nooooo. Yours will be, and then my ego will break.

      There’s also the fact of my diagnosis being so new. Sure, I have a middle aged lifetime of bipolar and ptsd experience, but the bipolar was simply how I viewed my personality. So this is all a huge shift; sometimes it’s helpful, sometimes it’s even interesting, and sometimes it makes me want to alternately rage and weep. I learn a lot from battlescarred veterans of treatment etc like you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I bet your med collection is bigger and more colourful. My frustration lies with a teeny tiny antipsychotic (25mg seroquel) that is causing me to gain weight and feel sluggish but without it I cannot sleep. It’s amazing how one little pill can tip the scales. And remind you that you are attempting to “manage” that monkey (or gorilla) on your back.

        As for the anxiety, I am not being treated at all. I was taking something that I forget. Things could be worse I know, it just surprises me how quickly the balance tips. I miss the blissful denial. Even if my diagnosis is not new, no one has ever really defined it and, when I responded so well after the first mania, I was discharged from all services 18 years ago. I have had to crawl my way back, fall off the edge and beg for help.

        I look forward to really talking about all this with you. I need the queer/mental health connection.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m happy to say that my med selection has been drastically narrowed lately. I’m not happy to say it’s all white and a murky orange. You’d think they’d make psych drugs happier colours. I Need that connection too btw.


            1. Probably. I imagine a panel of lugubrious dudes muttering “yes, this is definitely the saddest colour, we don’t want those fuckers to stop spending their fuckall money with us”.

              Liked by 1 person

                    1. It functions like a sort of lesbian kebab. Ohhhh there goes the neighbourhood…. Actually i haven’t been within a metre of a lesbian for a very long time. It must be my deodorant.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. Kind of you to ask, but o hell no. First off, there aren’t any, secondly, I don’t want any. I’m happy to drag (ho ho) you to the nearest gay club and be your wingdyke though. The men are tastier than the women there, I suspect.

                      Liked by 1 person

  11. Amen to this. The amount of times I sit there and smile and nod because it’s pointless trying to get some of the ‘professionals’ to even try to listen. It is a tick box exercise for all of us it feels like sometimes. Me for my benefits and them for meeting whatever targets they have. Not all my psychiatrists have been like that but recently it’s been a bad bunch.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This: “I’d rather not feel as though I’m failing to make the grade, thanks very much; it’s that kind of thing that causes despair and we know the places despair tends to go.”

    Pretty much sums up a recent experience of mine, involving someone who, in future, I will probably confide in less. Because if they don’t know I’m in trouble, they can’t (metaphorically) hang me for “failing to make the grade”. Except, shit, I’m not very good at hiding my feelings.

    Oh bugger…where’s Malcolm Tucker when you need him? I am in need of a full on swear fest, with added blasphemy and a Scottish accent.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Totally. Mine has been in practice forty years and with me 16, but the lot of them are clueless and sometimes even discriminatory.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Great post. I agree people close to sufferers or the sufferers themselves know more. I spotted the bipolar symptoms in my daughter before the psych did. To be fair my daughter was probably not sharing certain things with the psych. One of her bad crashes I went to psych with her, with her permission. Then we got on to the right track. The stigma is so difficult. What’s worse is that there are people out there who are anti Big Pharm making DVDs saying that because of conflict of interest between psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies, psychiatrists recommend drugs for the wrong reasons. They even say there is no such thing as bi-polar, it’s made up by those psychs. Now to me that is ridiculous, clinical diagnosis of bipolar previously called manic depression, has existed since before any DSM. It took a few months to find the right combo, but since my daughter has been on the right combo, she has been coping with life. I don’t really care what it’s called, but the particular cluster of symptoms, once identified, is what helped her come right. Do you know anything about this? With respect to rapid cycling, I have been told that bipolar used to be considered as depression and mania being opposite sides of the coin whereas now it is considered more like a continuum with mania on the one end and depression on the other. People without these issues occupy a narrower range on the continuum. Any more you know about this ‘bipolar does not exist’?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well hello daar, fellow South African :)

      Wow, I didn’t realise that pharmashittical companies were actively marketing that way, as well as their usual kak. I mean…. conflict of interest… wtf ? Is anyone interested in, oh I don’t know, HELPING the patient, perhaps? Ah, there I go again, with my foolish ideals. I’m very glad you’re the kind of fierce and loving mom who advocated for her kid. No such thing as bipolar? Awesome, I’ll tell my brain to pull itself together and behave properly then. And ja, it has a long history: http://www.bipolaraid.org/Bipolar_History.html

      I don’t know anything about the non-existence of bipolar, it strikes me as bizarre. Any illness/disorder name is simply a label for clusters of symptoms, so they’d have to mean the symptoms were not there. And the anti-psychiatry fuckwits do their best to prove that psychiatrists are simply pathologising personalities. Fact is, regardless of the fact that all of us can do Internet quizzes and decide we have every disorder under the sun, that that isn’t how people are diagnosed. OCD doesn’t mean extra tidy etc. The best explanation I’ve seen, is that the difference between a personality and a disease, is suffering. And as you know yourself, it’s genuine suffering, not some kind of protracted tantrum. I’m not sure quite what you’re asking about symptom clusters?

      As for the continuum, I support that idea completely. If you imagine depression as one axis and mania as other; if you graph it as points/dots, plotting moods as a mix of the two axes, I think you get a better image of how it all works.

      I’m keen to talk to you more.


      1. Hi again, my question was not about the cluster of symptoms but about whether you’d heard the ‘bipolar does not exist’. Which you answered. I phrased it confusingly. My daughter is bipolar2. initially diagnosed with major depression which is probably why the meds weren’t working. Funnily I have depression which was once misdiagnosed as bipolar2. That is why I knew enough about it to realise she was probably bipolar. I see you followed my blog, thanks. My more updated one is my SA Fic book blog where you’ll meet your friend roughghosts

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Penny! I just saw your post here. I did not realize your daughter had bipolar. Not only am I bipolar but my son struggles as well though he prefers the alcohol self-medication route. As you may gather from my banter with the fine Blahpolar, she is the friend I am coming to SA to visit. A spirited voice for bipolar folk shouting in the wilderness! (With a decent collection of SA lit I can’t wait to peruse too.)

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes she was diagnosed a year ago. She is 28 now but looking back it all started at varsity about 10 years ago. The alcohol self medication route has also hampered her stability. The reason I knew so much about it is that I suffer from depression. But it’s been fairly well managed for a while. I did think Blahpolar was possibly the friend you are visiting.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I have been away; now I am back. I have missed you. Is there an emoticon for this shit? huh… onwards

    Liked by 1 person

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