Judging Bipolar Coping Skills
People judge how I cope with bipolar. Judging people is an Internet thing and it's a human thing. People just seem to feel free to tell me that how I live my life and how I deal with my bipolar disorder is wrong. I get it, I put myself out there, so that's what happens. Unfortunately, I suspect it happens to a lot of people with bipolar disorder. People just want to judge our bipolar coping skills.
Judging Bipolar Coping Skills
People cope with bipolar disorder in many ways. Some of these ways are better than others in terms of harm. For example, if you cope with your bipolar disorder by drinking and screaming at people (yes, that happens), that's not a great way to do it.
That said, there are innumerable positive coping skills you can use to manage bipolar disorder. In no particular order, here are a few that I have used or do use:
- Psychiatric medication
- A healthy lifestyle
- Good sleep hygiene
- Avoiding drugs (including alcohol)
- Creating a positive support system
All of those seem quite reasonable to me. That said, I'm not the one running around judging bipolar coping skills (when they're not harmful), as a general rule.
However, here are some of the judgment of these bipolar coping skills people might here:
- "That medication is poisoning you. If you just stopped taking it, you would be fine."
- "We keep problems in the family. Why do you have to talk to someone else?" "You're not crazy, you don't need therapy."
- "Why do you have to be so rigid? Why can't you just have fun like everyone else?"
- "Oh, lighten up. You don't need to do yoga again, do you?"
- "Come on, everyone else is going to the party, surely you can too."
- "You're not an alcoholic, why can't you just have a beer?" "I have bipolar and I can drink, why can't you?"
- "Stop talking about your problems. You're asking too much from people."
In all, the judgment of bipolar coping skills gives this message: you're doing it wrong. You're either doing it wrong as a person or you're doing it wrong as a person with bipolar disorder.
Here is an example of the judgment of my bipolar coping skills.
The Harm in Bipolar Judgment
The thing is there is real harm in judging bipolar coping skills -- in fact, there can be a lot of it.
In the above video, I talk about feeling hurt because of someone's judgment of my own bipolar coping skills. But feeling "hurt" is really the least of the issues.
The big issue is that by judging someone's bipolar management techniques, you may actually influence that person's behavior. For example, if you harass your friend for not drinking when you go out often enough, maybe your friend will drink one night. Well, your friend might not be an alcoholic, (although your friend may be, substance use disorders are extremely common [think 70%1] in those with bipolar disorder) alcohol and drugs can still have a devastating impact on mood. Some people find that drinking causes mania. And bipolar mania can be a life-threatening condition. Instead, another person might find that alcohol leads to depression. Bipolar depression, too, can be a life-threatening condition. It, absolutely, is not worth possibly putting your friend in those situations just so you can enjoy your bipolar judgment.
Of course, as the person with bipolar disorder, we must take responsibility for our behavior and whether we give in to someone else's judgment -- ignorant or not. That said, it would be awfully helpful if others would be supportive of what we need to do to stay well instead of judging us just because they don't understand the seriousness of mental illness.
As the person being judged, I tend to think of it like this: As soon as you live with my pain, every minute of every day, then you can tell me how to live. Until then, you don't get a vote.
- Gold et al, "Substance Use Comorbidity in Bipolar Disorder: A Qualitative Review of Treatment Strategies and Outcomes." American Journal on Addictions, April 2018.
Tracy, N. (2020, March 1). Judging Bipolar Coping Skills, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 14 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2020/3/judging-bipolar-coping-skills