The Stigma of Living with Bipolar Disorder

Many people have had their opinions on my mental illnesses. Match making their assumptions to certain things I’ve done in the past, my behaviours and actions, my persona, my decision making and the obsession to listen to the whispers from those claiming that they have the exclusive story on my life, to the easy answer. From this basis they feel that they have the right to become judge, jury and executioner. The complexity and depth of knowledge an individual requires to be such, arguably still hasn’t been reached. There’s no explanation for the cause of Bipolar Disorder. There’s 3 theories that are the most common in cases which are used as a benchmark but these aren’t set in stone. There’s no cure. It’s currently classified as a lifelong affliction by the medical profession. The medication that is prescribed isn’t a cure either, only a remedy. The medication I have, Depakote (Sodium Valproate) is an anticonvulsant that slows down the neurones in the brain. It is potent, as it needs to be, and makes me docile. Things are harder. Concentration, memory, cognitive function, muscle spasms and weight gain. It also increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The medication used for Bipolar and Schizophrenia patients are reported to shorten the life expectancy of the individual by 9-20years and 10-20 years respectively. More than smoking 40 cigarettes a day. So If you’re going to the effort of being interested and intrigued with a person and their circumstance, maybe save yourself sometime and get the full picture by actually asking the person.

I’m the first to admit that I abused drink and drugs (cocaine) to cope. People put my consumption down to the cause of my mental illness. Bipolar Disorder is not caused by drug abuse. Substance abuse unfortunately goes hand in hand with Bipolar Disorder. The fact cocaine was used as an antidepressant not to long ago shows it has some positive effects. People say that I will have the come down and it’s dangerous. They never step back to realise the medication that I take daily is working on the same principle. That I have to feed my addiction so to speak. I’m a legal drug addict. If I didn’t have my daily dose, not only would it be the bipolar but also the withdrawal from antidepressants and antipsychotics or anticonvulsants.

The stark reality is that it’s far from romantic or desirable to be living with a mental illness. Everything that I was doing was a response to the pain and suffering I was going through. My responses may not have been the most productive or proactive nor positive but I have since learnt from them. My purpose on this Earth is not to make you understand my journey, I’m here to be on that journey.

But some people are always happy to give their understanding and not so keen on hearing mine. People who don’t really know me or haven’t seen me for a while, comment when they find out I have bipolar disorder, that they would have never known. I often wonder why that is? Do you have to act a certain way in front of people? Are you supposed to strip naked and climb up a building then hide in your bedroom for 3 days? Do these people understand that people with illnesses are given medication? Bipolar Disorder sufferers are no different.

Another fantastic comment that you hear is “but so-and-so is bipolar and they don’t do that. They can do this etc etc etc”. No two people are the same. Simple as that.

Some days I have a irritability for everything. Be it a tree in a garden, a bird in the sky or a programme on the TV. No reason why. The medication will possibly be increased to the maximum dose (2,000mg) per day because of this. I’m fine with that. The fear I have is that I have found myself to have a different thought process when I’m irritable and It is a new experience for me. I’m not saying I’m going to do anything reckless but then again I’m not sure what I am going to do. Irritability can lead to lashing out and that’s my concern.

Does anyone think less of me because I have Bipolar Disorder? The common perception is that it is linked to‘crazy people’ or ‘maniacs’. Well to anyone who does, I’ll leave you with the words of Alan Watts 👌

Published by Rochdalestu

I’m a 38 year old male who has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I have found it as a new chapter in my life that has opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on myself and everything around me.

2 thoughts on “The Stigma of Living with Bipolar Disorder

  1. Living with bipolar is most definitely a challenge. It’s really good that you’re self aware of behaviors, patterns, and what does and doesn’t work for you. Thank you for doing your part to address the mental health perceptions that we are facing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙏 There’s a lack of understanding about it and it boils down to doctors and psychiatrists can’t possibly know what it is from a text book. You only get it if you’ve got it


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