Not Every Emotion is a Bipolar Emotion
Sometimes I’m Just Mad
As I have stated, over and over, that to experience bipolar disorder is to experience such inflated emotions that they swallow you whole. Bipolar emotions are bigger than you and the particularly nasty ones are bigger than any therapy or coping skill could ever be.
However, not every emotion is a bipolar emotion. Just because I feel a strong emotion like anger, sadness or elation, that doesn’t mean it’s a bipolar overreaction I’m feeling. It’s not necessarily depression, mania or hypomania. Sometimes, people with bipolar disorder feel just like everyone else. Sometimes we’re just reasonably mad.
Everyone Experiences Strong Emotions – Even the Non-Bipolars
It is a fact that we all experience emotions and it is a fact that some of these emotions are going to be very strong. We see this all the time in people without bipolar disorder. There are plenty of these “mentally healthy” people who hit things, storm out of rooms, burst into tears and act very emotionally in other ways as well. These people have no excuse for any overreaction they might have. They’re just normal people experiencing strong emotions (and, granted, not handling them very well).
People with bipolar disorder also experience very strong, challenging emotions – even emotions that are not tied to bipolar disorder. For example, when you make a nice candlelit dinner for your significant other and he or she walks through the door two hours late without calling – you might be justifiably mad and an argument might ensue. For example, when your beloved pet dies – you might be justifiably upset and go into mourning. Or you might be in a situation where you’re justifiably hurt, or outraged, or anxious, or pretty much anything else. But those emotions are necessarily tainted by bipolar disorder.
Blaming All Emotions on Bipolar Disorder
Many of us can tell our genuine emotions apart from the inflated bipolar emotions. It’s hard, but through therapy and coping skills, it can be done. However, those around us have a tendency to assume that all emotional outbursts must be bipolar-related. And because of this, people with bipolar disorder can never be mad, sad, hurt or upset without someone throwing back in their face, “oh, you’re just acting that way because you’re bipolar.” This is dismissive, belittling and endlessly frustrating. People with bipolar disorder aren’t allowed to experience average, if strong, emotions just like everyone else. Every one of us has to act like the Dali Lama or we’re just “acting out.”
This is entirely unfair.
No doubt, the people around us have seen us acting out because of bipolar symptoms, but certainly, not every moment of our lives is like this. Certainly some of our emotions are real, genuine and reasonable for a given situation. Certainly sometimes us, the real us, just needs to express what’s going on inside – just like everyone else.
Just Let Me Be Mad, Damnit
So to those around people with bipolar disorder, please know that sometimes we act emotionally in the same ways you do, for the same reasons and we need to be given space to do this. We need you to be able to look at us as humans first and people with bipolar disorder second. And we need you to understand that our reactions are sometimes strong and reasonable.
Sometimes you need to let go of the fact that I have bipolar disorder and just let me be mad, damnit.
About Natasha Tracy
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.