breakdown of the middle ground.

What’s faith got to do with it?

Recently I came across this list online of things (un-informed) people sometimes say, intending to be helpful, yet completely are not, when interacting with bipolar people. I was immediately reminded of an earlier posting here on Bifactor, when I was writing about My mom is bipolar. One of the things we talked about were the different ways her and her sister chose to go about interacting with their mother. The sibling I did not speak with appears to view her mother’s disorder  more along the lines of the following…

What was said: It’s all in your head. You are a hypochondriac.

What may have been perceived: You are either completely deluded or making an excuse for poor behavior in order to get my sympathy. I don’t believe in that psychiatric mumbo jumbo. I don’t believe that you actually have a real illness.

The Fallacy: Mental health problems are the result of a character flaw or weak personality. Mental illnesses are not real diseases.

The Facts: Bipolar Disorder is a medical illness with a physical cause probably rooted in structural or biochemical abnormalities in the brain. In short, it is very real, just like diabetes or heart disease.

What was said: Just shake it off.

What was perceived: You’ve created this problem for yourself, so just get over it and move on. I am out of patience with you. Don’t bother me with this again.

The Fallacy: Everyone can and should control their emotions.

The Facts: Bipolar disorder is a medical condition. Those with this disorder can no more snap out of it or shake it off then those with a broken leg.

What was said: He must be demon possessed.


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Filed under: bi-polar, Eliza Barnett, , , , , , , ,

One Response

  1. Rita says:

    Well meaning friends so often say the wrong things. A close friend of mine said two things that hurt deeply. One was, “I think a demon comes on you when you cycle.” How frightening it was, as I respected him. If the demon thing was true (I know now it is not), then no medication or talk therapy would help. It made me feel like giving up. The second thing he said was, “Listen to Simon and Garfunkel’s song, ‘Sounds of Silence,’ particularly the line, ‘Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk to you again.” What I ‘heard’ him say is, “You choose to go to the dark side of your illness.” Of course no one would ever choose the deep, dark and desperate state. For these reasons, I believe it is critical to have a sound and wise counselor deal with the issue, ‘Stupid things people say.’

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