Generalizing Your Experience with a Bipolar Person

Generalizing Your Experience with a Bipolar Person

I get a lot of feedback on my writing. I like feedback. Some of it’s positive, some of it’s negative, but it’s always interesting to know what other people are thinking of my writing.

But one of the types of comments that drives me absolutely nuts goes like this, “I lived with a bipolar person for 20 years and I don’t understand why people with bipolar are so angry,” or they’re “so violent,” or “so manipulative,” or “cheaters,” or whatever.

Here’s what drives me crazy about it – living with someone with bipolar disorder does not make you an expert on people with bipolar disorder; it makes you an expert in one person. Not all of us.

Generalizing Your Experience with Mental IllnessI’m Offended by Bipolar Generalizations

I’m personally offended by being called angry, violent, manipulative, a cheater and so on. I am none of those things. I am a person with all the complexities and nuances of every other human being. Just because one person had a negative characteristic doesn’t mean I do just because we share a diagnosis. That’s as ludicrous as saying that everyone with red hair is a hothead or everyone named Andy cheats. Or everyone with cancer is an attention suck. I’m pretty sure that’s not true.

Dramatic Experiences Breed Dramatic Overgeneralizations

It seems that the more drama in a relationship, the more people seem to want to blame the bipolar, the more people seem to want to assume that all people with bipolar are the same.

But we are not. We are individuals – just like you.

Quite frankly, I don’t care about the drama in your relationship. Many of us have had drama. For many reasons. That doesn’t give you the right to blame everyone with bipolar disorder and it certainly doesn’t give you the right to ascribe characteristics to me.

I am an individual.

I have the decency to treat you like the individual you are, and all I ask is the same respect.

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