The Effects of Denial When You Live with Bipolar Disorder

August 28, 2018 Hannah Blum


The effects of denial when you live with bipolar disorder are extreme. We think that refusing to accept a diagnosis of bipolar disorder will eventually erase it from our lives. However, it is an incurable illness, and the longer you deny it, the more damage you are doing to yourself.

How Denial Affects Your Life with Bipolar Disorder

Denial is an unfortunate part of living with bipolar disorder. When I was first diagnosed with bipolar II, I struggled to accept the diagnosis. The years after the mental hospital, I would go back and forth about whether I really had it or not. There was an extended period where I questioned whether I had bipolar disorder and assumed the doctors made a mistake. Denying an invisible illness is easy. This led to a lot of self-doubt.

Another contributing factor to having trouble accepting my bipolar II diagnosis were the people around me. Some people would tell me things like:

  • “Hannah, the doctors don’t know what they’re saying.”
  • Hannah, this isn’t bipolar disorder. This is who you are, your personality.”

and other things like that. I was just a teenager. What did I know? But the underlying message in these comments is that having bipolar disorder is not a label you want to wear. It reinforced the idea that we are wrong for living with bipolar disorder. That led to my downward spiraling self-esteem.

So you can imagine, with all this denial about having bipolar disorder, I was in-and-out of treatment. However, the most significant effect denial had on my life with bipolar disorder was my inability to find my identity. As much as I wanted to deny it, I always felt it was a part of me. It made me bitter and angry that I refused to be honest. I was living a lie, and unable to reveal who I was as an individual.

Why We Deny Bipolar Disorder

We deny bipolar disorder because of the stigma of mental illness. The shame and guilt make us believe we are inadequate individuals and causes us to spend too much time seeking a way for us to live without it.

A lack of trustworthy information is another reason. Many people don’t know much about mental illness and what they do know comes from unreliable, untrustworthy sources. A primary reason why I denied having bipolar disorder was that I did not know much about it. I based what I knew about mental illness off what I saw in the media and movies, which can be the worst source of information. I was confident that I was a kind, adequate and loving person, so it was difficult to accept a condition that I once believed made me a bad person.

Finally, we deny bipolar disorder because we feel as though it is the only way to live a good life, which is untrue. It is through education, getting involved in the community and self-help that we begin to realize that denying bipolar disorder negatively effects our lives. It took years for me to accept it and take the appropriate steps in addressing bipolar disorder as a long-term illness.

APA Reference
Blum, H. (2018, August 28). The Effects of Denial When You Live with Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Hannah Blum

Hannah Blum is the HealthyPlace YouTube bipolar disorder vlogger. Check out her I'm Hannah. I Have Bipolar 2 playlist and subscribe to the HealthyPlace YouTube channel. You can also find Hannah on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Renee Ham
February, 27 2022 at 10:17 am

I have a cousin whom I strongly believe has bipolar disorder. He has mood swings that have become violent. I think he has been self medicating with drugs & alcohol. I want to help him. He seems to know the system & will be released from the hospital. I just feel lost & helpless.

March, 22 2022 at 11:35 am

i have husband whom i believe have bipolar disorder but he deny it all his life i want to help him but i don't know how like you say he have mood swings that he cant control and he is constantly looking to have arguments with me once i answer him it is all my fault i started argument wit him please help me what i am to do i am having hard time and have no idea what to do he also having ghosting issues and constantly talking to him self talk you very much for your help i appropriate it wry much Rose.

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