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Judging Mental Illness – You’re Not Bipolar

For some reason people like to come on here and tell me (and sometimes others) that I’m not bipolar. They feel, for whatever reason, that my writing is not that of a person with bipolar and somehow it indicates that I’m not bipolar. I’m not expressing the right emotions. I’m not writing whatever it is that a “real” bipolar person would be writing.

And this happens in real life too. People somehow feel qualified to determine a person’s mental status simply by the way a person with bipolar acts in front of them.

Well, for the record, I would like to say from me, and all the other mentally ill people in the world: bite me (or, you know, us).

A “Real” Bipolar

I would really like to know how these people know what a “real” bipolar is? Am I supposed to write a manic post followed by a depressed post and so on? Is that the only thing that will “prove” that I’m a “real” bipolar. And how, exactly, would I prove the veracity of these posts? What if it’s not depressed enough? What if it’s not manic enough? What then? Fake bipolar again?

A Real Bipolar

The problem with this line of thinking is, of course, that I am only a person with bipolar disorder. That somehow the only thing I am able to express is a mood directly related to my disorder and that everything I do is directly driven by my disorder. This, of course, is nonsense. I’m a full-fledged, three-dimensional, complicated person – like everyone else – and I am quite capable of behaving outside the bipolar spectrum and I most especially am capable of writing outside of it. I’m a writer. It’s what I do.

And everyone with bipolar disorder is just like this. We are all multi-faceted individuals that act many different ways depending on the circumstance and just because we don’t act sufficiently bipolar in front of you doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

And, for the record, most of us don’t act especially bipolar around people – it’s called a coping mechanism and treatment – look it up.

Judgey-Wudgey Was an Idiot

And you, with your superior diagnostic skills, don’t get to come in and say someone is or is not bipolar just because of your tiny, port-hole view on their existence. There’s a reason people go to doctors and that’s because they’re actually qualified to make a diagnosis and they actually have access to the information you don’t. They actually have access to all a person knows, thinks and feels as opposed to the tiny view one gets from social interactions or a pile of writings.

So, by suggesting you know what diagnosis a person should have and suggesting that you know better than them and better than their doctor simply proves one thing – you don’t know what you’re talking about.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

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.

31 thoughts on “Judging Mental Illness – You’re Not Bipolar”

  1. “It’s funny because it’s like being punished because we’re successful.”

    INDEED! Oh my! Yes, I echo everyone else’s comments. An absolutely terrific job of talking about something so irksome. And yes, if you were to run for office, you would definitely have to be nuttier (wait, who says you’re not already nuttier? oh yeah, you did!)

  2. Oh heavens, I love this post and the comments that have been made. Thank you once again for your wise and witty words!

  3. I am SO SO glad to see you write this. When I was first diagnosed last year I heard that so much. “You don’t act like someone with bipolar” How am I suppose to act? They don’t know what goes on inside my head, which is where the battle is. I even had some people say “well, once you get over whatever it is that’s bothering you then you will get better” If only it were that simple. It frustrates me to no end when people say that or if someone does something then they are automatically labled as bipolar or something. So much stigma out there and that is a lot of the reason people don’t reach out for help. It took me over 10 years to get myself help. Now I am glad I did.

  4. Yay! Right on! If you were a politician I’d vote for you because, time and time again, you put a voice my thoughts!

  5. Kudos Natasha! You said it so well, I have had many people say, you don’t act bipolar, its all in your head. Okay, well let me put on the foil hat and bounce around the room chanting some song and spitting everywhere, is that how I’m suppose to act? Lol. I’ve had a social worker say this one time, it confused and actually hurt because I was trying to explain how hard it is to function and the comment took away the urgency and pain from what I was trying to convey to her. Yes, infront of you I can act normal, believe me it takes a lot of strength to appear normal.

    Also the comment made me feel like bipolars are not intelligent people, which she commented on as well, “you seem so well put together.” I guess I was suppose to babble and drool on myself. Sometimes I’m half tempted to act like such a fool to get my point accross, i’ll switch the crazy on if you want…lol.

  6. I will write to say that this has been yet another article from you that I have really enjoyed and can related with. Although my diagnosis is BPD I can never understand when someone tells me that I dont appear to have BPD just from some introduction or not really getting to know me. I tried a therapist once who upon the first interview did not think I had BPD, at which point I didnt feel comfrotable moving foward with them and felt just as you were writing that at that time I had a ‘mask’ on and they really had no idea who I am or what I have gone through, etc. I guess it is sort of like the saying you cant judge a book by its cover 🙂

  7. Hi Norell,

    It’s funny because it’s like being punished because we’re successful. Or, perhaps not even successful but simply being ourselves and not a cookie-cutter character.

    – Natasha

  8. Thank you for the excellent post!! These people don’t realize they are just showing their ignorance. I know very few people would look at me and know I am bipolar. I cope very well or don’t leave the house. As discussed previously, my “mask” is fully in place when I am in public. It takes a lot of emotional energy at times, but I can do it. If I find I can’t do it, I don’t leave the house. I agree with you – Bite Us!!!

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