Healthy Self-Esteem When You Have Bipolar
I think it’s hard to have healthy self-esteem when you have bipolar. Sure, you can have grandiose self-esteem when you’re manic or hypomanic but that’s not the self-esteem you carry with you into everyday life, nor is it particularly healthy self-esteem. No, I think people with bipolar have low self-esteem because of their illnesses.
What is Healthy Self-Esteem?
I would say that healthy self-esteem is a fair and positive estimation of your self-worth. It’s feeling good about yourself, who you are and what you are. It about feeling like a good human being. It’s about feeling loveable (I Have Bipolar, Will Anyone Ever Love Me?). It’s about being confident in yourself. I think we all know, thanks to bipolar depression, what it’s like to feel horrible about ourselves and healthy self-esteem is essentially the flip side of that.
Why Does Bipolar Cause Low Self-Esteem?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure not everyone with bipolar has low self-esteem, but from what I’ve seen, low self-esteem and bipolar is a prevalent problem. I think it’s hard to be a “sick person,” disabled, and still feel really good about yourself and maintain healthy self-esteem. It’s like the bipolar doesn’t just attack your body but it also attacks your very essence (perhaps soul). It’s hard to know that something is fundamentally wrong with your brain and still feel like you have the same worth as everyone else. There is also something about taking medication every day just to function that also impacts healthy self-esteem. It’s like you’re not a complete person without pills – and just who feels good about that?
And it’s hard to face mental illness stigma every day and not let it infect the view you have of yourself. If your experience is people abandoning you because of bipolar disorder, it’s pretty hard to not internalize at least part of that as your fault. It’s hard not to see yourself as fundamentally flawed as and good as anyone else.
And, as I said before, bipolar depression certainly impairs healthy self-esteem simply by its very nature.
Why People with Bipolar Should Fight for Healthy Self-Esteem
However, all that being said, people with bipolar disorder deserve healthy self-esteem just like everyone else. We are worth the same thing as other people. Our brain flaws do not affect our whole being. Just because we have an illness, doesn’t make us worth less. And just because other people, unfairly, have a problem with us and discriminate against us doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t love ourselves. I realize this is easy to say and hard to internalize but I believe we are worth the fight for healthy self-esteem. I believe we deserve to be on par with everyone else. I believe we deserve to feel positively about who we are – just like everyone else.
How to Have Healthy Self-Esteem with Bipolar
As with so many parts of bipolar disorder, I think the key to having healthy self-esteem with an illness is about combatting the negative self-talk with more logical, positive self-talk. Here’s what I mean:
- It’s natural to think, “My boyfriend left me because of my bipolar so I must be worthless.” But we can combat that by thinking, “My boyfriend showed prejudice about my illness. That says more about him than it does about me.”
- You might think, “My family has disowned me because of bipolar; I’m unlovable.” But you could combat that by thinking, “My family is ignorant about bipolar disorder and is taking it out on me. That is not about me; it is about them.”
- You might think, “Because I need medication every day, I am not a whole person.” But you could think, “My medication is an important part of keeping me healthy. This is just as true for me as it would be for a person with any other illness. I don’t think less of those people, why would I think less of myself?”
And so on. When we catch ourselves falling victim to the low self-esteem-causing thoughts, we can fight those thoughts with rationality and reason. I’m not saying it’s easy but I think it’s doable and it’s worth doing.
And, if all else fails, I think it’s worth looking at therapy to regain healthy self-esteem if you have bipolar. Because you’re worth the effort.
If you’re interested in self-esteem issues, check out the blog Building Self-Esteem here on HealthyPlace.
Tracy, N. (2015, February 11). Healthy Self-Esteem When You Have Bipolar, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2015/02/healthy-self-esteem-when-you-have-bipolar
Author: Natasha Tracy
Confidence attracts women and I have none...thank you bipolar. Maybe I will die the next manic attempt hopefully last time ambulance saved me but i'm wasting peoples oxygen and I'm wasting God time being here. I fuckinh hate God for creating me sometimes but I guess not god fault I'm shit.
Sometimes being mentally ill has to do with how we are treated growing up.
I was abandoned by my biological family and emotionally, physically and sexually abused by my adoptive parents. My dad is dead and I stopped talking to my mom a couple of years ago. It was a matter of self preservation, essential to my survival. We'd had a terrible fight. Everything that I had stuffed down over the years came flooding to the surface. It had taken alot of courage to finally stand up for myself and it felt good to get all that off my chest. She of course was in denial and hung up on me. Stubbornly we were both waiting for the other to appologize. My well meaning friends said don't worry, eventaually she'll come around. I knew that would never happen. It took a couple of years to grieve her loss
Then this week I received a large package in the mail from my adoptive mother. My first reaction was what now. I didn't want to open it but eventually I did. it contained all her pictures of me. Essentially saying I'm done with you too. I don't ever want to see your face again. At first this made me cry, obviously I was hurt, but then I realized, finally this pain and suffering has an end to it. It's time to pick up the broken pieces of my life and give them to God
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I find the depressive phase more damaging to me while the manic phase more damaging to others. Either way my self esteem gets affected because it tends to negatively impact relationships around me especially when the two poles become severe. Thankfully due in part to medication that does't happen as often
Sometimes it's about internal beliefs of my own self worth, i.e not measuring up to my own standards. This can be especially hard if you're a perfectionist like me
At other times it's about external beliefs, not measuring up to what I believe my support system of friends and family expect me to be
Sometimes it's about what society as a whole values, i.e. money (power, prestige) looks (especially weight), education (level thereof or just getting good grades), health, relationalships etc that I may not feel I measure up somehow.
Sometimes it's just simply about the stigma of having a mental illness and not feeling free to talk about it with others without feeling judged.
Taking into consideration all these factors (and then some) on any given day and my self esteem can be either fine or take a severe nose dive