People often say to those suffering with bipolar disorder, “Others have it worse than you.” This is not a helpful statement. We know that others have it worse than us. In fact, others with bipolar have it worse than us; that’s just math. But the fact that others have it worse than us is absolutely irrelevant to our suffering with bipolar.
Expressing Suffering with Bipolar Disorder
While there is much to be said about living with bipolar disorder there is also much to be said about suffering with bipolar disorder. You might not consider it the same thing, that’s okay, but they both need expression. Expression of one’s experience of mental illness is something that not everyone likes, but, as I’ve said, I feel it’s important (Expressing the Experience of Bipolar – Not All Will Like It). In fact, Suffering Through Bipolar Medication Side Effects, a recent article of mine, was very popular, likely because so many people identify with the experience I wrote about. It’s not about wallowing in suffering, it’s about self-expression, which actually, in the end, decreases suffering.
“Others Have It Worse Than You, Stop Whining”
When others talk about your bipolar disorder and say “others have it worse than you,” usually they’re trying to shut you up and stop you from expressing your own experience. It thoroughly invalidates not only what you are trying to say, but also the pain that you have experienced. This is unfair and wrong.
The fact is suffering is suffering and it’s not measurable. Your suffering is yours and if it’s the worst thing you’ve ever experienced then it’s the worst thing you’ve ever experienced. No one can change that or take that away from you, no matter how snippy and invalidating other people may act.
Remember, my bipolar is not worse than yours, it’s just different. If I suffer every day and you suffer every day then that’s what happens. It’s not a contest. (By the way, bipolar I is not worse than bipolar II either. One can destroy you and your life as can the other.)
Value in Remembering that Others Have It Worse Than You and Your Bipolar
Now, all that being said, sometimes it’s worth remembering that others are hurting just like us. Sometimes it’s a wakeup call that we need because depression makes us think that no one feels as horrible as us and no one is as sick as us. This, of course, is not true and there is value remembering that.
Nevertheless, other people self-righteously announcing that “others have it worse than those with bipolar” is not remotely helpful. This is not something of which we are unaware. We know. We know that others don’t have enough food. We know that others are dying. We know that other are in war-torn areas. But none of that invalidates our experiences. Our suffering is our suffering. It’s real and that’s okay. And it’s okay to say so.