Bipolar disorder is something I live with. There are so many myths to bipolar disorder.
I find that it is an often misunderstood mental illness and there is a lot of stigma attached to living with the disorder. (Read more about some of the stigma here.)
Many people seem to be uneducated, or simply don’t want to accept it, and chalk it up to “it’s just mood swings”. As someone who lives with this disorder, I can tell you it’s not just being “moody”. It’s so unfair and frustrating that people struggling get brushed off simply because of the stigma attached.
Today I want to use this platform to break through some of the myths that are out there and educate others.
I first want to say I’M NOT A DOCTOR. I’m simply an advocate using her voice, and that is literally all. Everything I share is based on personal experience and lessons, along with research and doctor appointments. If you are someone who struggles, or suspects you might be, I urge you to maintain open and honest communication with your health care provider.
Myth : Bipolar disorder is rare.
Truth: Bipolar disorder affects 2.3 million Americans and 1% of Canadians aged 15 and over have reported symptoms that align with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is NOT rare. It affects far more people than I bet you would think! (Curious of how it feels? Check out my post that describes it over here.)
Myth: Bipolar disorder is simply mood swings.
Truth: OH MY GOSH, NO. While bipolar disorder IS a mood disorder, there are so many ways it affects people. From energy levels, to appetite, to being in pain and discomfort, bipolar disorder is much more than just the lows and highs.
Myth: Bipolar is bipolar. There are no differences in the disorder.
Truth: You guessed it, wrong again! As far as I’m aware, there are 4 different types of bipolar disorder. Not one of them is the “worst”, as they are all difficult to live with. (The four types are Bipolar 1, Bipolar 2, Cyclothmic disorder, and bipolar disorder due to another medical or substance abuse disorder. ) Psst.. again, I’m not a doctor. Please don’t be offended if I’m wrong.
Myth: Bipolar disorder is predictable.
Truth: NO it is not! Just because a cycle lasted 3 weeks last time, maybe this time it’s 1, or 7. It is not predictable whatsoever. Someone with bipolar disorder has no control over these cycles and when the switch happens either.
Myth: Kids’ can’t get it.
Truth: Wrong again! Absolutely kids, adolescents, teens, young adults, right to older adults all can get it. It is a neurological disorder, and can affect anyone. Maybe some people are more on the path of it, just based on genes, but really anyone can have it.
Myth: Stress bares no effect on bipolar disorder.
Truth: Wrong again. Stress can push people to their triggering point of an episode or make symptoms more visible for those who are not diagnosed yet.
Myth: Bipolar disorder is a figment of ones’ imagination.
Truth: WRONG AGAIN. Bipolar disorder is a real, neurological disorder.
Myth: People with bipolar disorder can’t work.
Truth: MANY people with bipolar disorder are able to find stable and fulfilling work.
Myth: Once your disorder is under control, you can stop taking your medications. You’re cured.
Truth: Definitely a big no no. Don’t ever stop unless your under advisement from your doctor.
Myth: Alcohol and drug abuse cause bipolar disorder.
Truth: No again. But, those with this disorder they say are more suceptible to addiction struggles.
Myth: Mania is just a happy feeling.
Truth: Only ever having experienced hypomania, and not full blown mania, I’m going to say absolutely not.
Bipolar disorder is an absolutely real mental illness. According to the Mayo clinic, “bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).” It’s a real disorder that needs to have the same care and attention that any other disorder has.
Bipolar disorder has completely changed my life.
Knowing a name for it has been helpful in managing and maintaining my mental health, but it still sucks. And it sucks for everyone.
Do you, or anyone you know struggle with bipolar disorder?
I’m here for anyone who needs someone to talk to.
Love Always, Enn