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Denying Bipolar Disorder

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.

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 Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

51 thoughts on “Denying Bipolar Disorder”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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…

  7. 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

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