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Denying Bipolar Disorder

July 5, 2010 Natasha Tracy

We all take part in the game of denial. Humans need denial to exist. We can’t think about our inevitable death, the fact that we are aging, or that our marriage may end in divorce and expect to care about jobs, mortgage payments and the obvious importance of Jimmy Choos. We know unpleasant possibilities and inevitabilities are true, but on a daily basis we deny them. We need to. Denial produces a workable life.

What gets under my skin though, is the fact people expect me to deny my bipolar disorder, my experiences with it, and its effects – mostly just to make them feel better.

Bipolar Diagnosis and Denial

When one receives the news either at a doctor’s office, behind a computer screen, or in a hospital, that they have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, denial is inevitable. Learning that you have a debilitating lifetime illness is a nasty pill to swallow and a period of grieving, including denial, is normal and expected. We need time to adjust to this huge piece of new information.

This denial has to go away; however, for us to get better. We need to able to admit that we have bipolar disorder in order to seek treatment. We can’t deny that bipolar disorder exists and expect to get any better.

Bipolar Symptoms and Denial

People deny bipolar symptoms and their bipolar disorder diagnosis. Are you into bipolar denial or do you deny bipolar because others want you to? Read this.I can understand the desire to cover up the fact that in your last manic episode, you spent $5,000 on stilettos because each design seemed more crucial than the last. I can understand you don’t want to talk about missing your mortgage payment because you were too depressed to get off the couch and take care of it. I understand wanting to deny forgetting your friend’s birthday because depression had you sleeping right through it. I can understand not wanting to admit to all the bipolar symptoms you are having – thinking about them is painful.

But as above, if you deny your bipolar symptoms it’s very unlikely that you can be treated for them. If no one knows the truth of what you’re experiencing then they can’t help you. Denial of bipolar symptoms doesn’t protect you from them; it makes you more vulnerable to them in the future.

Denying Bipolar Because Others Want You To

I’ve written here about being bipolar and damaged, and about being bipolar and alone. Both times people were quick to tell me that I was thinking about things in all the wrong ways. People told me I should reframe the issues, I shouldn’t think so negatively, and that if I think of myself as a victim, then I will always be one.

Well kids, I am damaged, specifically my brain is, I am a victim of bipolar, just like someone is a victim of cancer, and I am most certainly alone, and lonely for that matter. Other people’s desire for my denial of these simple facts shows how frightened they are that these facts might be true about them too.

People deny bipolar symptoms and their bipolar disorder diagnosis. Are you into bipolar denial or do you deny bipolar because others want you to? Read this.

Some people also want me to deny what bipolar looks, smells, sounds, and tastes like. They want me to stop telling people what my experience of bipolar is without first putting it through a therapy-rose-colored-Pollyanna filter. And while I appreciate a person’s desire for their own denial I don’t appreciate them being so insistent that I join in.
As a writer, I have the ability to stand next to a demon, watch it, record it, and illustrate it, without being gobbled up by it completely. I can have bipolar experiences and relate the raw truth of those experiences. I know that an inky, black, darkness lives right beside me. I see no reason to deny that.

If you choose denial, that's your business.

I Don't Believe in Bipolar Denial

But I will not deny my bipolar disorder, my experiences and what goes on in my sick brain just to make others feel better. Many bipolars want to hear a deep, genuine, authentic, unsanitized version of this disease because it makes them feel less alone; because, they realize that they aren’t the only ones going through this horror; because, they don’t have the words to express what’s happening to them; because, we all need people in our lives to know our genuine selves. And sometimes it takes reading about someone else’s experience to know how to make that connection; there is something to point to when asked how you feel, and you can point at the screen and say – that, I feel like that.

So no, I won’t be a party to bipolar denial. I don’t believe that denying the pain and suffering of reality is helpful. I believe that very scary experiences should be held lightly in your hands so that you can truly see, touch and feel it, so that you can understand and accept it. And hopefully move forward.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2010, July 5). Denying Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2010/07/bipolar-and-denial



Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Karen
says:
October, 3 2017 at 8:53 am
I am bipolar, since i was a teen i wouldnt wish tthis on anyone
Sleepless in Sedona
says:
September, 24 2017 at 10:04 am
Bipolar 2 Friend in Denial, what to do? My friend is in her late 30's, she can't work because she thinks she is either too good to work and that she should be lavished with money just for her presence, she actually says this. If she has a job she gets fired; she dresses inappropriately, wears no underwear and no bra and makes sure men see her genitals and sometimes says things to them like "I'm horny", she often smells from not wearing deodorant, believing it attracts men. People tell her to change her clothing and dress professionally and to wear deodorant but she never does. She sucks her thumb, cries for hours at a time several days a week, she also punches herself in the face, bangs her head on the wall and is suicidal. She often does not sleep and stays up until 3 to 4 AM and then sleeps all day. She is extremely self entitled; I've never seen anyone so entitled. Everyone owns her and she is the victim, nothing is her fault. She thinks she should be rich and famous and stated, "I would do anything to be famous." She tries to hang around men who are famous or semi famous and know a lot of people who are famous. Her ups are not extremely high which is how I did not realize she was bipolar at first, I did know know what bipolar 2 was. Her parents are also blamed for everything that is wrong with her and I now realize she also has false memories. She claims her parents were highly abusive and she has PTSD from being choked by her father every week. I used to believe her but now I have seen her claim that things have happened that I know did not occur and then she also denies things that did happen; she grip on reality is very thin. She also attacked a former married lover who she engaged in an illicit affair with. She flies into literal entitled rages that his wife has a family, a nice home and money and doesn't have to work at a job and she has nothing. She has also been blackmailing the ex-lover demanding he give her money. When I tell her she is bipolar and that needs help, she denies it and claims she has PTSD. Our town is small and pretty much everyone knows about her bad behavior and wants nothing to do with her. I made the mistake of letting this person live in my house (and for free) not knowing how crazy she is. I kicked her out of my home and now she is living with her mother in another state as she has no money to afford to stay living here. I called her parents for intervention to get her out of here and into a safe place as she was threatening to go live on the street in her car. Being on the street is the last place someone mentally ill needs to be. Her parents try to get her to see a real doctor and take meds but she refuses. I am no expert but it seems she may have other personality disorders besides bipolar 2? I read these bipolar posts and either people aren't saying the whole truth of what goes on or this is an extremely BAD case? What is the truth? What do you do with someone who is violent, suicidal, self entitled, hurts themselves and refuses help? I am flabbergasted by all of this, I feel traumatized from having this person in my home. Her parents are over their heads with this. Basically she gets by in life by seducing men and finding a new boyfriend to pay her way but eventually that wears off and they kick her out. She threatens suicide all the time and I am afraid she will finally kill herself; I was afraid she would kill herself at my house.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
says:
September, 25 2017 at 5:15 am
Hi Sleepless,

You're in a tough spot, for sure. I recommend you look up this book specifically on this subject: https://www.amazon.com/Someone-Mental-Illness-Treatment-Anniversary/dp/0967718937/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506352429&sr=1-1&keywords=i%27m+not+sick+i+don%27t+need+help

(Neither HealthyPlace nor me are affiliated with this book.)

- Natasha Tracy
Christopher Range
says:
April, 26 2017 at 3:06 am
I am in a bit of a pickle. I was previously involved with a woman who was diagnosed with Bi-Polar II. She definitely fit the criteria. That was ten years ago. Now I am in a relationship with another who was diagnosed BP-II. She says she doesn't think she has it. At first that seems like bipolar denial. But, She doesn't seem to fit the criteria.
Concerned Daughter
says:
April, 10 2017 at 5:10 pm
I just found this old article - not sure if anybody still has access to respond. Do you have any articles posted on how to convince someone to go get diagnosed for bipolar? I stumbled across this one while trying to research how to help a family member who displays all of the symptoms but doesn't see anything wrong. Any advice would be appreciated on how to get them to go have that conversation with a Dr.
dylan
says:
May, 31 2016 at 12:58 pm
i think i am bipolar. signs?
An Unwilling Student
says:
December, 13 2015 at 8:49 am
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear says Buddha

Bipolar can be a bitch of a teacher. I learned to be teachable not because of it but in spite of it.
David
says:
December, 11 2015 at 10:05 pm
I have a Dear Family member with diagnosed bipolar disorder
The person rejects the Doctors findings and has done for most of life
My family member treats themselves with Wine cannabis to extremes and suffers horrible withdrawal when the dope runs out.
The family member shuns help of any kind and suffers so much pain but also projects that pain and ugliness on to those who live in same house.
It is a cycle over weeks of mania shut down depression fighting with people in our street
Crash/burn/cat teams hospital shame.
We are tired of making excuses and accepting and excusing this behaviour to keep a relative peace-but how do you help some one who is help bent on destroying themselves
We say go work with the Docs used the meds they gave you get off the skunk and wine and see what comes in this approach
Sadly this person wont because they say they have a life time of pain and shame and I will treat it my way-stoned.
This is a curse of a disease But how do you reach a person pushing 50 to see the rocks and alter course./
God help us.
Bryan
says:
August, 20 2015 at 8:09 am
All the responses here, even the article and many others I look for on the subject, ends with the person with bipolar disorder takes responsibility and seeks help even if it is eventually after denial. My issue is that my spouse not only is in denial, would view as even considering diagnosis. let alone treatment as admission and refuses outright. I have seen this get worse and worse and spinning way out of control. I have tried different approaches and it all ends up the same. Bitter and angered denial. She has had over a year of panic attacks, which after 12 ER visits, still denies and even while taking a prescription for it (which she stopped) and denying it while taking them. It hurts me that I feel I cannot help any more, I do not know what to do anymore. It seems that one viable option is leaving her and have her realize herself the issues as hand. Right now I feel like I am her enemy and truly am stuck. I do also understand that until one wants help, they are not going to seek it. What to do...
art
says:
August, 5 2015 at 1:09 pm
Everytime my bipolar wife feel angry.she always tells me to split our marriage.for 4 years..angry almost evryday
Renita
says:
May, 3 2015 at 8:51 am
It's easier to deny the bipolar disorder when I'm in remission and feeling much better. Which for me can be long periods of time if I'm careful. Sort of like the pain of having a baby, I guess. It's very painful to go though it but after its over you tend to forget just how bad it really was until you have to go through it again. At least that's what I'm told by those who have actually had a baby. It can also feel like being reborn again when I'm in remission... It's only been a short while since I've actually been diagnosed

I fully understand why so many choose to go off their medication. It can feel great not to have to cope with all the nasty side effects either. But all I have to do is look at my depressing visa statement and around the room at all the ridiculous stuff I've bought while I cringe and recoil in shame and embarrassment of rembering other past bipolar behaviours as well to realize just how unwise that would really be

It takes me a while and a lot of hard work to begrudingly form the habit of doing what needs to be done again and again to getter better and then I get sloppy and the symptoms insidiously return and the reality of bipolar disorder slaps me in the face once again. It gets so tiring to try and live such a disciplined life that I need a break from it all now and again which of course one can never fully do. This illness can be so brutal, relentless and unforgiving that it wears me out sometimes

With bipolar disorder comes many losses and time needs to be given to grieve each one and learn something from them. First there's denial then anger then bargaining then depression and finally acceptance as per Kubler-Ross. I guess I still have a way to go. It's hard to make peace with what seems like an enemy and stigma can be the biggest enemy of all

I find even after the correction of a hospital experience it can be easy to fool myself into believing I don't really have bipolar disorder or that it's really not that bad as incredulous as that sounds because I can sometimes find ways to rationalize it was actually the stressful event that precipitated the bipolar melt down and not the bipolar itself that caused me to be hospitalized in the first place. Usually it was a bit of both. My belief can then be further strengthened by those around me who are also in denial because I tend to be a rather convincing high functioning type of bipolar. I'm very adept at hiding my illness from others most days. Denial also tends to keep my self esteem from completely shattering into a million pieces like a mirror and then giving me another 7 years 'bad luck" so to speak.

The line can become blurred by tears as to when it's important to deny this illness (especially in telling others) and when it's time to just accept it for my overall well being
MJ Shooner-Gilhooley
says:
April, 22 2014 at 9:26 pm
Great description Natasha of the cycle of denial most of us have experienced during either a personal or mirrored glimpse into this uninvited, sometimes inconvenient, sometimes horrifying fact about ourselves. What most impresses me about your various writings is your brave line in the sand; your unbridled, overt declaration of what this is all about for you (and others), and it's just too bad if you don't want to look in the face of your fear that pandoras box will leap wide open and all the other ignored webs and shadow figures lurking in their psyche will be exposed. A level of vulnerability that most of us would melt under (the first time). Having a sister who shared this condition before me, who committed suicide via a mshot gun to her head wasn't enough for my X of 13 years to even once read up on my diagnosis that was spinning our marriage out of control. He wouldn't, couldn't to the point of letting go of any hope of warm, family ties to be maintained.
Alastair
says:
February, 6 2014 at 1:32 pm
Why in earth would my now separated partner tell me when we started our relationship that she was diagnosed with bipolar and had taken medication but now doesn't need it, then deny her outbursts in our fresh relationship and hit the bottle which brought out a complete side to my ex that I didn't like one iota what with abusive behaviour and erratic name calling, but still deny her condition. I stuck by her and we had our child, then she blamed her behaviour on baby blues...then denied baby blues. Throughout her pregnancy she continued to make herself sick after eating and denied it after I caught her multiple times and wondered why our unborn child stopped growing and was induced a month early and underweight. I have been through a lot with this woman and stuck by her side and taken the abuse in which I was blamed for her depression and her drinking and outbursts, even having the police called on me for her throwing herself down the stairs. She pleaded for me to leave the forces after serving 12 years to become a house dad after we seperated time after time and look after our child do she could Persue her career and our child and I lived 200 miles from her mother and only seeing her the weekends. Her drinking and abuse continued with no regards as too how tough it was for me seeing to our child alone 24/7 whilst she drank and called both her daughter and myself names. I begged her to get help time and time again until I left. Not knowing my rights I didn't take our child but as I found out too late I should have. We live seperate lives now and I travel 200 miles every 2 weeks bringing our child back to where I live then the next day take our daughter back to her mums as I haven't and never will give up on my little girl. I've recently taken my ex (still married) to court for her drinking as yet again in returning our daughter back to her mothers, her mother was drunk, I involved the police. How can she blame her drinking still on me when I'm no longer there. She is on her 2nd relationship already in 8 months. Her problem is herself and she is destroying everything around her. She may be a functional drinker but she is so much in denial. I'm concerned for her but she thinks I'm attacking her. I want what's best for our daughter and I need to know my daughter is safe. Our daughter was returned back to her mothers under the courts instruction as I was made out to have made the whole thing up by my exes barrister until my evidence from the police and hair strand test is produced in the next hearing. Our daughter will probably remain with her mother as this is how it goes, I just wish my seperated and sadly soon to be divorced wife would see that she is different when not drinking and completely different if under medication, if that's what she was taking when we first met. This is the first time I've ever wrote this down but I feel a weight has been lifted. All I wanted was a family and my little girl now is only in my arms 4 days a month.
Jordan
says:
June, 26 2013 at 1:52 pm
Interesting.

I never denied having bipolar to myself, but I deny and lie about it to others as a general rule - why I can't do this or missed that. I lie to everyone, even my close friends and family that know I have bipolar. I also have this tendency to not want to use the fact I have bipolar as a crutch. It is hard for me to admit it to people it being the cause and it is awkward and uncomfortable to have conversations about it. No one understands.

Except that's not true, now is it? You talked about being alone. I totally understand that. But to a different degree, or because of that, you are not alone as I am not, the evidence is in this blog. That is the beauty of your words, aside from their eloquence: they show that there is someone, others, out there that are going through the same struggles; the same overwhelming pressures and demeaning and destructive thoughts, endless cycles like a roller coaster train.

And towards that end, alone as I am, though steeped in the heavy folds of a major depressive episode, because you chose to share your thoughts, you have brightened my day, if even by only a little, knowing that I am not, despite what I feel, completely alone in all of this.

Thank you for your thoughts and for your courage.

I'll leave you with a quote from a song by Lars Din:

"Livin' like a roller coaster train,
I get up high and dip back down again.
The trip is quick,
The dip's the trick,
I hope you understand.
Equal parts: metal, mountain, and human,
Just livin' like a roller coaster train."
Paul
says:
August, 21 2010 at 5:53 am
I can relate to some of your discussion about denial, but other aspects I don't. I think it is possible to think about our death and other unpleasant aspects of our existence without having them overwhelm us to the point that we engage in denial to protect ourselves. It might be our predisposition to engage in denial, but I don't think it's inevitable and we can certainly learn how to cope with these issues over time.

Your statement: "Learning that you have a debilitating lifetime illness is a nasty pill to swallow" bothers me the most. Life is never perfect and I believe part of our difficulties in life arise from a gap between our expectations for life and what happens. Denial can be a way to close this gap and allow us some temporary relief. In the long run this approach usually doesn't work. At the same time, I don't think we need to be too focused on life long debilitation either. I think trying to get the most out of our of our lives with what we have can help us to keep in touch with what's going on, be open to possible solutions, and allow us to change course when the proposed solutions don't seem to be working for us. With bipolar disorder, at times it can certainly be difficult to be in touch with what's happening to us, so having a good support network is crucial.

When we are feeling better, we can make plans for what we'll do when or if things start to slip again (denial impedes this process).

It'd be nice if people were supportive of our needs, but we can't allow our own happiness to depend on what they do. Expecting people to empathize with something they haven't experienced can often lead to disappointment.
Natasha Tracy
says:
August, 14 2010 at 7:47 am
Hi David,

Congratulations on accepting your life and not caring what other people think about it. That's a huge step and it sounds positive for you.

Thank-you for sharing, and of course, for the compliments.

- Natasha
David Shadrick
says:
August, 14 2010 at 3:12 am
I have to say it's been a honor and a real pleasure to read this blog this morning and everyone's reply. I have bipolar 2 and can relate to pretty much everything everyone's said. I know for myself that know that I'm no longer in denial about my condition and am taking active steps to educate myself about how it really affects myself and my life. I have a better life today because of how I am and not the people and world around me. I live for myself today and do what I need to to be as happy as I can. I've quit worrying about other people and what they think. By doing this I've been able to reduce the stress in my life and find I feel better about who I am. Thanks to everyone for sharing yourself and helping me to know that I'm not alone today. :) Peace and Love
Natasha Tracy
says:
August, 13 2010 at 11:45 am
Hi Beverly,

Thanks for sharing with us. I do agree that how you pick yourself up is important. I think the fact that some of us have survived such severe illness shows how we pick ourselves up.

- Natasha
Beverly
says:
August, 13 2010 at 7:56 am
I have been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder for 10 years now. As, I reflect back on what has happened to me in my life--things that are completely 'norm' for a person who has bipolar disorder makes sense.

I must say this though, all the diagnoses I have (I have several of them) are just A PART OF WHO I AM! I am not bipolar---I am a person who has mental health challenges....It took me awhile to realize this....

In my psychiatric history, I have been diagnosed (these are just what the psych people says I have....) with PTSD/DID (due to sexual abuse issues in my childhood), BIPOLAR DISORDER I (rapid cycling type)...yada yada yada

I have lived through some tuff stuff. However, due to this I have become more compassionate, understanding and caring for people. I have been hospitalized at state ran institutions and private psychiatric hospitals. Those times were necessary to keep from committing suicide.

Am I proud of those times? NO--however, it was during those moments, I have come to learn that I am a whole lot stronger than I thought I was.

Yes, it is horrible to have mental health issues. Especially since lots of society doesn't understand it nor do I think they really wanna understand it. Cause if they did--it would mean that they too, may have to deal with some issues.

There is not a person still breathing that hasn't been sad or down or 'blue' at least once or twice in their lifetime. The difference is in the way that person deals with it. I am more apt to have depressions now, that I have went through menopause than I am to have a full blown manic episode. I still have 'em (they just ain't as extreme!)

God bless you for sharing your journey. Thanks!
Natasha Tracy
says:
August, 4 2010 at 9:27 am
Mercedes,

It's hard for anyone to admit that they have a problem, but doubly-so if the problem is the brain you're trying to tell.

It absolutely is sad, but hopefully one day he'll come to his own realizations about who he is, whether it's bipolar or other issues, and if he's lucky, maybe you'll be there for him then.

I wish you both the best of luck.

- Natasha
Mercedes
says:
August, 4 2010 at 9:19 am
My marriage ended a year ago. I disconnected from my husband long ago. Recently reflected on the causes of my break up and concluded that he is Bipolar - has the classic symptoms. When I confronted him with my resolution (with good intention) he denied it by saying that his line of work being self-employed made him go on an emotional roller-coaster normal for that sort of occupation.

He then repeated the same conversation we had had some time ago about moving his business forward, but had not yet done any of my suggestions. I think he going through an advanced bipolar disorder. I feel sorry for him, he was always good to me
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 27 2010 at 5:05 am
Jesse,

There are ways of acknowledging who you are are still having family and friends. Find a support group or a therapist and they can help you find those ways.

And Jesse, I believe there is something to being our authentic, genuine, honest selves. It's good for our own psyches. I didn't say easy, but I do think there is benefit.

- Natasha
Jesse
says:
July, 27 2010 at 4:57 am
I have never denied that I am BP...this is the very reason of course why I have never had any friends, and why my family tends to stay away; Deny or not, you just can't win.
loreen paiva
says:
July, 12 2010 at 3:11 pm
I am the mother of a 20 year old bipolar female. She went off her medication the end of December, quit her school and job in February,
broke up with her spouse in March, and spent months smoking, driving irratically and collecting speeding tickets, and attempting to socialize
with whoever would spend time with her. I put her in the hospital 2x and she would walk out after a few times and cont to not take her medicine.
She ended up in a hospital with nothing but the clothes on her back for days. This hospital kept her for 16 days, got her back on medication
and I realize this is something she will have to go through until she finds something that will motivate her to stay on her medication and pull her life together. My exhusband, her father is probably her main support system
at this time. He understands her because he has a schizo affective disorder. He was an educated, intelligent person who would not be bothered with managing his mental illness. I always picked up the pieces for him and I was his worst enemy for years. I want my daughter to
be successful but I realize that she has to find her way.
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 11 2010 at 6:25 am
Hi Tommy,

I'm not sure what your question is. If you're his caretaker for his health needs then you may be able to approach his doctor by yourself. If he is a danger to himself or others then you may wish to look into an involuntary commitment.

I hope that helps.

- Natasha
tommy
says:
July, 10 2010 at 2:28 am
i strongly believe my uncle suffering from some form of mental illness.he always been a laid back guy from childhood.he had a late marriage ..but did not last long and his wife had left.he even began looking more troubled and depressed.his mood swings dramatically aslo.his relatives cant even advice him or try to correct him.if does he becomes violent.i am caretaker for his health needs presently.he is suffering from diabetics and hyper tension.he is even avoiding me to his doctor visits now.so i cant address or help his even more issues surrounding him.recent fear of job loss had made him even worse.he is the type of person who don't want to tell doctor about his sleepless problem.i am just wondering if i could gave the needy help to him as a responsible person and relative?
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 9 2010 at 10:13 am
Frank,

Feel free to speak up any time. Myself and the other readers here appreciate it, and many listen to you. You are not alone.

I have all the fears you have and I've had bad experiences in many instances as well. When I think about who I want to be though, I know I want to be an authentic person. If I were lucky enough to have a person fall in love with me, I would want it to be the genuine me, and not a sanitized version.

I know how disasters can result from disclosure, so we have to be careful about who we tell, but as you said, you feel alone. And we will all feel alone if there's no one in our lives to truly talk to. At some level, I think that's worth the risk.

Good luck.

- Natasha
frank
says:
July, 8 2010 at 10:20 pm
Natasha, I Salute You. Thank you so much for the response and the actual interest in what I had to say! I feel extremely alone in my illness! I so much want to have somebody along with me for the ride! I know that it is selfish to feel this way but it sure wood be nice! I use to try and be more open and honest about my condition but it has caused nothing but problems with interpersonal and employment that I have extreme difficulty in expressing and talking about it! On numerous occasions I have gone through periods of denial or hope that it was not so, but to no avail every occasion turns out disastrous! One of my biggest fears is having to be put in a position of putting another person through my mood swings! Oh well, I'll quit rambling. I could go on for days since someone has listened. Thank you again!
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 8 2010 at 12:40 pm
Hi Michelle,

You are free to comment in any way you please here. It's not "spew" it's conversation and that's quite alright with me. :)

Mental illness is an extremely touchy subject for people, especially if they already have it in their family. The way one person chooses to handle it may be different from another and that can causes rifts. It's really tough to have people around you who want to deny who you are. It makes it really tough to accept it yourself.

It takes time for some of us to admit that we need help. Honestly, it's a process, and even when people who love us tell us to get help, it's a personal decision that no one can make but the person who's ill. I know you know that. Hopefully, in time, your ex will be able to make the decision himself.

One thing I will say is that the best time to tell someone they're crazy is _when_they're_not_. When someone is in the midst of an episode, they are likely not going to be willing to listen. They probably aren't being very logical. They are being ruled by their illness, not their logic. When they aren't in an episode though, they may be more likely to listen. I know that doesn't help you at this moment, but it may help long-term. And if you try to address it in the future, try to be gentle and point out how he may have an issue using logic, not emotion. Emotion may just activate him or make him reflexively aggressive.

Congrats on taking steps for yourself. That sounds very positive.

Good luck. Drop by any time.

- Natasha
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 8 2010 at 6:27 am
frank,

Well, just because I don't believe in denial it doesn't mean that I don't believe is selective disclosure. I can't wear my bipolar or my symptoms like a flag and expect to "win friends and influence people", if you will.

I think we need people we can be honest with, no matter what. And I think it's crucial that we don't lie to ourselves.

In my case I write about bipolar and so denial is of particular importance to me. I believe that my genuine authenticity is important, even when people don't like it.

That manifests in my real life in a variety of ways, but I do agree, you can't be raw and real around every person you meet.

- Natasha
Michelle
says:
July, 7 2010 at 9:43 pm
Hi,

Wow, this hit home for me, too. I'm not bipolar (just severely clinically depressed), but my, as-of-a-month-ago, ex-boyfriend is. He was diagnosed at about 12 years old and I don't think he really understands it yet... he's almost 30. The part about people around you wanting you to deny it? That's exactly what his family wants. He's not stable, won't admit it, won't go to a doctor, doesn't ever tell his med doc or therapist anything real or true, partly because he doesn't remember, but also partly because he's in denial.

I got a taste of this personally when, about a month ago, he decided I needed to leave and he methodically has removed me from his life. I've been trying to get through to him that a lot of this stemmed from his bipolar, but he absolutely refuses to believe me and his family just supports his denial because it's easier. And everyone thinks I'm just being negative... ha!

My question is: How do you get someone to deal with the reality when they've only been taught denial from their "support" system their whole life? Oh, and that self-esteem thing... that's a doozy.

It has even gotten to the point where his family has done a complete about-face and went from treating me like a daughter/granddaughter/part of the family to actually making plans to come into town to kick me out of the house. Did I mention his mom is bipolar and only medicates when she feels like it? I've sent the link to my ex and I hope he comes here to read this and even read this comment, but I don't really expect it. And that just makes me sad that I can't make him come here. :( But I know I can't fix him... I just wish I could get him to understand he can "fix" himself if he makes that decision.

Anyway... Sorry to just spew all this here, but reading this post kind of hit me right in the gut. I don't know if I might have Bipolar II or if I'm just the major depression-ridden slug I think I am, but I've been scraping bottom for a LONG time and this whole thing with my boyfriend WOKE ME UP! I'm working on the self-esteem every day... trying to find something I like about myself every day, even if it's something silly. I try to post every day on my blog, just to keep trying to look UP and claw my way out of that hole I've dug myself into. I know I can do it. I AM doing it. It's tough as h-e-double-hockey-sticks, but I have to do it. I'm done with denial and just "surviving"; I'm ready to really live. :)

Thanks for posting... and here's to looking UP!
Michelle
frank
says:
July, 7 2010 at 6:02 pm
Natasha, I have found that truth telling about my illness generally affects only one person on the side of the coin of truth - me! 99% of the people outside of my core family and friends don't care, don't want to hear about it, and usually find that you are trying to make excuses for your behavior! This, in turn, leads to more self esteem issues, more depression and substance abuse problems than before!

I used to have faith that others were understanding and cared about illness, which most do unless it is mental illness! Fear, from lack of understanding or just plain not trying to understand, is reality in society! Now that's truth for those of us with bipolar or other mental illnesses, understand that! For 30 plus years of looking for understanding has helped me realize that it's few and far between who do or want to understand, which, in many instances, is okay for they themselves have their own problems in life to deal with! By learning this I have discovered that if I don't put myself in these positions, I don't have to subject myself to these behaviors, which in turn decreases my depression, my low self esteem, and lack of self!

Support from others who suffer from this illness and finding truths from the illness itself leads to better understanding. Trying to find from others never works. We are the masters of controlling our remission!
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 7 2010 at 8:15 am
Rachel,

I'm glad it hit home for you.

- Natasha
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 7 2010 at 8:11 am
Hi Lee Ann,

I understand being frightened of your psychiatrist. I can only suggest being honest, strong, and taking control of your treatment. If you don't want a certain medication, you need to say so. You doctor isn't the one who has to live through the side-effects - you are. But, if you're honest, your doctor may have other suggestions to help, but you'll never know if you're not honest. The choice, of course, is up to you.

Thank-you for the compliments and for sharing your story. Yes, I like the hair, but it's a horror to keep up.

- Natasha
Rachel
says:
July, 7 2010 at 7:58 am
Amazing! It's as if I wrote this, but don't remember actually writing it. ;)

Choos are my manic weakness too - my credit card debt reminds me of that every day and yet still asks for more. ;) Still in denial here and definitely keeping others in denial by downplaying it, ignoring it and hoping it will go away. Obviously time to change.

Incere thanks for being a voice - to others and especially to me. Hearing you loud and clear. :)
Lee Ann 255
says:
July, 6 2010 at 9:41 pm
Hi again Natasha,

YEAH for TRUTH!!! It isn't easy. It isn't easy to admit to those $5000 Jimmie Choos. Boy do I get that one. I get manic and I spend and I shop and I never have to leave the safety of my aloneness of my home because the internet is the world! I spend days and weeks learning where some of the world's best textiles can be found for the best prices. I let the dirty dishes pile up and forget to eat, and don't make my house payments because they are not nearly as beautiful as a Suzani from Uzbekistan. Like Scarlett O'Hara, I will worry about that tomorrow or next month... I am caught in my mania but I do hide it. I am afraid to tell my psychiatrist because I think she will put me back on drugs that made me gain fifty pounds in four months and all I did is sleep. All i could do is sleep. So I tell her I am still struggling with spending too much but I don't tell her I missed another house payment. I don't feel out of control. I don't have credit cards there is only so much trouble I can get into.....nothing like I did a few years ago.

Does it really matter what all the pieces are, all the hits you have taken in your life, all the soul breaking, heart stopping slams which have been inflicted, that somehow unleashed the monster of BP in your brain? Well, yes I think it does matter, because if you don't take it all apart and understand those pieces you can't begin to put them back together, try to repair them, mend them, heal them, or just give them a decent burial. All this brain plasticity stuff well, it goes all ways. I lived with a classic and cruel narcissistic sociopath for twenty two years and the damage he inflicted changed my brain chemistry; not for the better. Would I have ended up with a full blown hypermanic event had I been married to a loving and kind man all those years? I don't know....but I kind of doubt it.

I want to love myself. I don't want to live with a sense of shame because I can't get my house organized and cleaned up. Or because some people consider my clutter bad enough to call me a hoarder. I don't want their offers of help if all they want to do is come and box up my belongings and give them away to charity. I still have dignity. I still have boundaries.

In the movie "The Soloist" one very important point that was made is you don't come in from the outside and fix some mentally ill person's life the way you think it should be fixed. You offer them help. They can take it or leave it, but you don't go away when they don't like your offer. You still show up. You accept them for who they are.

How arrogant for someone,(and I have been guilty of this myself) to think that they can go in and fix someone's life when that person cannot fix there own? Yes they can help, offer their help, but rare are the times that another person can truly fix one's life. Our doctors are not Gods, our parents are not miracle workers, our spouses are just as human and frail as we are, as are the very best of our friends. We have to muster the wisdom and strength to say yes to what is truly helpful and no to what is not.

My daughter will not come and be with me when I am very depressed and crying and just need someone to be with me. I frighten her. She says she will come see me when I feel better. She is afraid she will come over sometime and she will find me dead. I feel so awful that I have filled her with such terrible fears but they are real. I don't want her to find me that way either. And how can one explain that kind of extreme depression? Yes, suicide is selfish, I understand that thinking. Yet I also understand how much sheer pain and despair can lead a person to it and I know at that point it is not an act of selfishness it is an act of desperation. The pain becomes unbearable, truly unbearable and there is no hope that it will ever ever end.

That is why it is so important that we do have in place lifelines. Someone we can call who will come over and sit with us when we are curled up in a fetal position sobbing on the bottom of the closet. Ideally you need about three or four of these numbers/people, because that night I called my daughter all my lifelines were unreachable and she was a last resort. A last resort that made things worse rather than better.

SO I am getting used to thinking of myself as a mentally ill person. I know my family does not like hearing me say that. They respond, "yeah, like who isn't". They question the cocktail of medications I take and not a single person in my family has said that I was courageous to tackle this and try to get better rather than just let it kill me. I don't think ahead too far. I don't dwell on the fact that this is incurable. I just had a month of feeling pretty good and now I'm slipping down again. It is a disappointment. I thought the new cocktail held such hope,, at least a few months worth.... But I live by this quote, " And this too shall pass..." And it always does one way or another.

Thank you Natasha for providing us with this blog and forum. You are indeed an inspiration... and I love your red hair!!!

Lee Ann
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 6 2010 at 5:32 pm
Hi Bev,

Thank-you so much for your compliment and your thoughts. It sounds like you've been going through things that a lot of us have, so believe me, you're not alone.

- Natasha
Bev65
says:
July, 6 2010 at 5:22 pm
I loved this blog! I am sick of people thinking we have control over this, even while on medication! I am tired of apologizing for my BP. Do they think we actually enjoy this? and because its a "Mental" disorder and doesnt fit into a one fits all category (so many different symptoms can roll out at any given time)! My husband asked me if I was over my depression???? Um no dear not today, its not like a cold. My daughter in law uses my BP as a reason to limit interaction between my son, and my new grandson. She is afraid of letting me get close to him and I may attempt/commit suicide (have attempted in the past). I get her fear, but she, like so many people never take the time to really understand the disease, like they do all the other diseases out there. We suffer from the
fact that we feel bad, embarassed by what we have done in the past. Enough of the persecution. I dont hear voices, I am BP II and not phsyoctic or dangerous to others. I have had a life long friend turn her back on me when she found out about my suicide attempt...told me to get a life and get off facebook.....just like that. Buh-bye. I was deeply, deeply hurt. I guess I wasnt really her friend, and I was fooled.
Thanks for putting this opinion out there!
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 6 2010 at 1:50 pm
Hi Adriana,

Not to worry, your English is just fine.

It's always hard to tell the people around you the truth. It's tough for me too. But one of the advantages is that it gives people the opportunity to understand and support you - and some will.

And congratulations for not denying it to yourself. I know that's hard too, but now you can learn and get help and try to get better.

You're definitely not alone.

- Natasha
Adriana
says:
July, 6 2010 at 1:14 pm
Hi Natasha,

I read this at the right time... I was wondering if I was right to tell everybody I've got this disorder. I denied it for a long time, now I can say it's terrible. I was almost destroyed because I avoid treatments, medication and thought "one day a magical cure would appear"...

One I realized that I had bipolar disorder and I told people about it, almost all my friends and relatives vanished, and I became suffering in silence for months, years maybe. But, one day, I decided to fight the prejudice, and told everyone at work, family and friends what I've done when I was at my manic episodes, and why I couldn't just leave bed to do my things when I was down... Or why I disapered some periods because I was at hospital after trying to kill myself (twice).

Sorry about my poor English... But I had to tell you how glad I am to find your blog and not feeling misunderstood and alone anymore.
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 6 2010 at 11:50 am
Buzz, thanks. Yeah, it's a process.

- Natasha
Buzz
says:
July, 6 2010 at 9:38 am
Holy Sh*t. You really nailed it. I deny, succumb, deny again. Rapid cycling perhaps?
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 6 2010 at 7:55 am
Hi Theresa,

I think education is important. We are not alone and we have to internalize that fact.

You're welcome, of course.

- Natasha
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 6 2010 at 7:52 am
Cat,

I am sorry you are going through such difficult "stuff. That would be really hard for anyone to handle.

I'm honored to have helped you and your relationship. Thank-you for such a compliment.

- Natasha
THERESA
says:
July, 6 2010 at 6:22 am
It helps me so much to read about how it is for others and have that yeah...that happens to me too. I have a mixed bag of mental illnesses and we are treating them pretty well but I have found that part of the management/treatment success depends on education too. For whatever reason understanding we are going through the up or down of our own cycle helps to manage it. thanks again.
Tavia Manning
says:
July, 6 2010 at 3:54 am
Your last reply was exactly what I expected you to say ... hehe. OMG you were predicatable .... just for a moment. Browsed the whole "shoe" website. Now to work out how I can purchase.

Tavia
Cat Wilke
says:
July, 6 2010 at 2:28 am
thank you for your honesty -- however brutal the truth is ---keep telling it. I suffer from atypical depression due to PTSD (an acronym for a whole cartload of nasty crap that happened in my childhood that i am supposed just "get over" and move on) and my husband is disabled with bipolar 2. We understand the denial thing from so many different levels it ain't funny. When I broke the truth about being sexually abuse by a sibling to my family (4 sis, 3 bro, M&D and a niece) i was blessed with a surprisingly positive response and have forgiven and managed some healing. But, the idea that i get so depressed that i don't want to move but i still manage to take care of everyone (minimally) -- i have only one sibling that gets it kinda and the rest just don't want to talk or admit it or have anything to do with it (and the one that gets it the least is a MSW and has counseled ppl). Don't get me wrong, i am partially to blame for their denial because of my denial -- it is a tough pill to swallow and having achieved a BA & a MA doesn't help. Helping my hubby work thru his denial helps me work through mine --- but you have helped more than you know. Stuff i have been saying for years ( i must have sounded like blah blah blah yada yada yada) have become valid because YOU have said them -- someone who has been there done that and suffers from bipolar similarly to the way he suffers. So keep sounding the trumpets no matter how sour the sound might be to some ppl --- you are beautiful music to us!!!
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 5 2010 at 6:21 pm
Tavia,

Well, yes, sometimes I get tired of certain questions. But my job as a writer is to entertain and enlighten, and sometimes that enlightenment needs to be repeated a few times. That's just part of the gig.

Thanks for dropping by.

- Natasha
Tavia Manning
says:
July, 5 2010 at 6:08 pm
:-)

Don't you get tired of explaining?

Natasha 3D version available on Bipolar Burble.

Lol.
Natasha Tracy
says:
July, 5 2010 at 5:48 pm
Tavia,

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks being realistic is different from negativity.

- Natasha

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