Hello I'm Hannah. I have Bipolar 2

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Hi, my name is Hannah Blum, I have Bipolar 2 and I'd like to share my story with you.

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Bipolar Disorder and Extreme Empathy

With my bipolar 2 disorder, I live with extreme empathy; to the extent that it sometimes affects my mental health. Find out how on my HealthyPlace blog

Bipolar disorder and empathy. A lot of people reading this might expect that I will be writing about my lack of empathy. However, in my personal experience living with bipolar 2 disorder, I live with extreme empathy; to the extent that it sometimes affects my mental health. The part of my bipolar disorder that allows me to feel emotions so profoundly contributes to this immense empathy and empathetic perspective.

When Empathy Affects My Life with Bipolar 2 Disorder

It is important to be empathetic, but is there a point where you can have too much empathy? This is a question I think about often. It may sound crazy, but I can feel people's emotions, their pain, to the extent that I lose sleep. It does not even have to be someone close to me, like a friend or family member.

Many of my friends and relatives enjoy this part of me because I am an excellent listener who is genuinely trying to help. I am sensitive to other people's emotions, but it can affect my mental health. I want to undo the sadness that other people feel. The less pain they feel, the less pain I feel. I want to respond to every message and email I receive from people struggling with their mental health. When someone is upset and I cannot be there, I beat myself down about it. It is almost as if their pain becomes my pain. It is humbling but can put me at risk of being taken advantage of mentally.

Empathy and Bipolar Disorder Leaves Me Vulnerable

In my previous relationship, I realized that feeling great empathy with those who have wronged you makes you vulnerable to being taken advantage of mentally. My ex-boyfriend was mentally abusive in ways that will be explained in one of my bipolar 2 YouTube videos when I am ready to share that intense experience. The only reason I stayed was that I was empathetic to his situation. He was losing his job and going through family problems. I stayed for two years and took the abuse, causing my mental health to deteriorate.

Luckily, at one point, I finally realized my self-worth and abruptly left the relationship. I have learned that some people are in bad situations for a reason and it is not my job to save them, nor should I feel obligated to help.

Maybe it is a natural part of my brain chemistry, or maybe it's because of my experience living with bipolar 2 disorder. Whether it is brain chemistry or stems from life experience living with bipolar 2 disorder, is irrelevant. I can be empathetic but to a certain extent. When people begin to take advantage of my sensitivity, it is time for them to go. They don't deserve that part of me.

What about you? Has bipolar disorder affected your level of empathy? Share your experience with bipolar and empathy below.

After Your Bipolar 2 Diagnosis, Now What?
The Most Annoying Part of Living With Bipolar 2

Comments 9

 
Guest - Ryan K. on Thursday, 08 June 2017 18:37

I have often described myself as having an "empathy surplus." I have difficulty watching the news or certain scenes in movies. Depictions of bullying, for example, anger me even though I never experienced bullying.
It's animals that really have an effect on me. Dogs and cats in shelters, squirrels at the park, they're all like little people to me.
I was once at a holiday gathering, eating a brownie. Someone's tiny support dog was staring at me with the saddest look. He wanted that brownie so badly! I couldn't let him have any, of course, but I felt like a horrible, horrible person.

I have often described myself as having an "empathy surplus." I have difficulty watching the news or certain scenes in movies. Depictions of bullying, for example, anger me even though I never experienced bullying. It's animals that really have an effect on me. Dogs and cats in shelters, squirrels at the park, they're all like little people to me. I was once at a holiday gathering, eating a brownie. Someone's tiny support dog was staring at me with the saddest look. He wanted that brownie so badly! I couldn't let him have any, of course, but I felt like a horrible, horrible person.
Hannah Blum on Thursday, 08 June 2017 20:29

Hi Ryan! It sounds like you are a very caring person, but I understand when it can become overwhelming. I have the same reaction when I see certain scenes in movies, especially in documentaries. The annoying part about it is that stigma persuades people to believe the exact opposite about those of us with bipolar. Do not get me wrong I have my tense and cold moments, but even then I am always empathetic. Thank you for commenting!

Hi Ryan! It sounds like you are a very caring person, but I understand when it can become overwhelming. I have the same reaction when I see certain scenes in movies, especially in documentaries. The annoying part about it is that stigma persuades people to believe the exact opposite about those of us with bipolar. Do not get me wrong I have my tense and cold moments, but even then I am always empathetic. Thank you for commenting!
Guest - Krystal S on Wednesday, 21 June 2017 14:01

I have Bipolar II Rapid Cycle and suffer from extreme empathy as well. It's like whatever is happening to others is actually happening to me. It's very overwhelming and makes it very difficult to work. When I get home I feel like I have nothing left for those I love

I have Bipolar II Rapid Cycle and suffer from extreme empathy as well. It's like whatever is happening to others is actually happening to me. It's very overwhelming and makes it very difficult to work. When I get home I feel like I have nothing left for those I love
Hannah Blum on Thursday, 22 June 2017 14:57

Hi Krystal! I can relate! You describe it perfectly, "whatever is happening to others is actually happening to me." It is exhausting. I learned to balance it when I realized that a lot of things are simply out of my control. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience!

Hi Krystal! I can relate! You describe it perfectly, "whatever is happening to others is actually happening to me." It is exhausting. I learned to balance it when I realized that a lot of things are simply out of my control. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience!
Michael Rhys on Friday, 09 February 2018 00:52

Good Morning, I am Bi-Polar type 2 and emphatic, which can be really difficult on occasion because I can feel what others are thinking even if they deny they are, which is often the case, experience has taught me just to keep silent, and look for a gap where I may be able to help.
Thanks for the page, it is difficult to discuss just what one feels amongst people who don't have your condition

Good Morning, I am Bi-Polar type 2 and emphatic, which can be really difficult on occasion because I can feel what others are thinking even if they deny they are, which is often the case, experience has taught me just to keep silent, and look for a gap where I may be able to help. Thanks for the page, it is difficult to discuss just what one feels amongst people who don't have your condition
Michael Rhys on Friday, 09 February 2018 01:39

Good Morning everyone finally got this page to work:D my registration link would not copy/paste or work by clicking on it,
Anyway Bi-Polar and empathy, I can relate to this as I am emphatic so often can feel others I have learned though to keep it to myself as people wear masks and really do not want you telling them how they may feel, I think also one needs to be careful about prying meddling, and trying to fix others. On a personal basis being an introvert is a blessing. So I am perfectly happy on my own.

Good Morning everyone finally got this page to work:D my registration link would not copy/paste or work by clicking on it, Anyway Bi-Polar and empathy, I can relate to this as I am emphatic so often can feel others I have learned though to keep it to myself as people wear masks and really do not want you telling them how they may feel, I think also one needs to be careful about prying meddling, and trying to fix others. On a personal basis being an introvert is a blessing. So I am perfectly happy on my own.
Hannah Blum on Friday, 09 February 2018 11:42

Hi Michael! Thank you for commenting. I am trying to see how I can help with the registration link right now. I can definitely relate to you, especially when you say, "I can feel what others are thinking..." Our empathy allows us to connect with others on such a deep level. It is so interesting how those of us with bipolar disorder are different, but relate on so many unique levels. I will do my best to help with the registration link. Thank you for commenting and sharing your experience.-Hannah

Hi Michael! Thank you for commenting. I am trying to see how I can help with the registration link right now. I can definitely relate to you, especially when you say, "I can feel what others are thinking..." Our empathy allows us to connect with others on such a deep level. It is so interesting how those of us with bipolar disorder are different, but relate on so many unique levels. I will do my best to help with the registration link. Thank you for commenting and sharing your experience.-Hannah
Guest - Josh-S on Saturday, 24 March 2018 13:03

I can relate to this a great deal. I have a reputation for being an attentive listener that people can confide in and receive appropriate feedback. I may also pick up on subtle emotional and social cues through body language and speech. Though at times I can over-interpret them as well.

The overactive empathy can make it difficult to watch some movies. Scenes where a character is hurt, humiliated or rejected can make me extremely uncomfortable. This is especially so when I am attached to the character. Their pain becomes mine. I may skip past the scene or possibly decline to watch the movie again despite otherwise enjoying it.

Negative or tragic news stories can bring a response that is intense and lingering. A particular story can make me sad or even tearful for several hours afterwards. It is not proportional and reflects an inability to return to a normal state. It sucks. Empathy is definitely a double edged sword.

I can relate to this a great deal. I have a reputation for being an attentive listener that people can confide in and receive appropriate feedback. I may also pick up on subtle emotional and social cues through body language and speech. Though at times I can over-interpret them as well. The overactive empathy can make it difficult to watch some movies. Scenes where a character is hurt, humiliated or rejected can make me extremely uncomfortable. This is especially so when I am attached to the character. Their pain becomes mine. I may skip past the scene or possibly decline to watch the movie again despite otherwise enjoying it. Negative or tragic news stories can bring a response that is intense and lingering. A particular story can make me sad or even tearful for several hours afterwards. It is not proportional and reflects an inability to return to a normal state. It sucks. Empathy is definitely a double edged sword.
Hannah Blum on Saturday, 24 March 2018 13:17

Hi Josh! It is incredible how many things those of us living with bipolar disorder have in common. Literally, I can relate to everything you say. It is a character trait that I look at as a gift, but it can get to where it is too overwhelming. So happy you shared this with me! Thank you!-Hannah

Hi Josh! It is incredible how many things those of us living with bipolar disorder have in common. Literally, I can relate to everything you say. It is a character trait that I look at as a gift, but it can get to where it is too overwhelming. So happy you shared this with me! Thank you!-Hannah
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