Feeling Helpless Because of Bipolar

November 1, 2020 Natasha Tracy

I often feel helpless because of bipolar disorder. I know we're all supposed to be empowered and in-control of our own destinies,  but those things are an illusion at best, and bipolar is excellent at reminding me of that. All chronic illnesses, and for me, bipolar specifically, go with feeling helpless.

Why Does Bipolar Make Me Feel Helpless?

See, people are of this mistaken impression that they are in control of their feelings, brains, and, more broadly, their lives. This isn't exactly true, but it sure makes people feel better on dark, cold nights.

But bipolar disorder is excellent at reminding people they are helpless. You are not, in fact, in control of your feelings. You are not, in fact, in control of your brain. You are not, in fact, in control of your life.

Bipolar disorder creates feelings of which you are not in control. Bipolar disorder does all sorts of things to your brain of which you are not in control. Bipolar disorder will do things to your life of which you are not in control. For example, bipolar disorder will bring on a depression. Bipolar disorder will shrink parts of your brain.1 Bipolar disorder may even drive you to attempt suicide, or worse. Bipolar disorder, quite rightly, makes a person feel helpless.

Feeling Helpless Because of Bipolar

And sometimes, all this bipolar helplessness gets to me. Sometimes, I even feel sorry for myself about it. Sometimes I cry at the way bipolar disorder has up and ruined an event, a day, a week or worse for me, and I have no control to stop it. I find it very difficult to grapple with this reality at times.

Now, yes, of course, there are many things you can do to cope with bipolar disorder, and these may be more or less successful depending on the event, day, or week. I might be able to quell the suffering for a minute -- or I might not. The helplessness in bipolar comes in because I never know which way it's going to go. I never know how I'm going to wake up. It's like, one morning I wake up in my bed, cozy in my sheets, and the next morning I wake up on a bed of spikes with a demon next to me who's trying to kill me, and I have absolutely no control over which of those things happen.

Yes, treatment, therapy, lifestyle changes and all the rest help, but nothing will ever let you truly control the bipolar disorder. It's not possible. You are helpless with bipolar disorder. That's just the fact of the matter.

Making Peace with Bipolar and Helplessness

As I said up top, it is a fact that we all are less in-control than we would like to think, and, really, bipolar disorder is just the messenger that reminds us that we are helpless. So, really, I'm like the rest of the human race, only with higher daily stakes on my helplessness. My helplessness with bipolar could kill me. Other people's helplessness rarely does that.

What is up to me, then, is how I deal with the bipolar helplessness. My conscious actions are what I can control. So I, consciously, say to myself: I can handle it, and I will handle it, whatever the bipolar disorder, and, indeed, life, decides to throw at me. I take a deep breath and stare the suffering in the face. Nope, I can't control the bipolar, but I can control me. And that just has to be enough.


  1. Universiry of Edinburgh, "Manic Depression Linked with Brain Tissue Loss." ScienceDaily, July 2007.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2020, November 1). Feeling Helpless Because of Bipolar, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 30 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

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