Validating or Not Validating Bipolar Experiences
One of the things my writing does is validate bipolar experiences. This is helpful for people for a very simple reason. When you know that even just one other person is facing the same challenges as you because of bipolar disorder, you feel validated, this has many benefits and it is something we all need. Additionally, harm definitely comes from not validating bipolar experiences – and many of our loved ones do this, perhaps without even knowing it. It’s important to realize that validation of bipolar experiences actually helps a person’s mental health.
What Is Validation of Bipolar Experiences?
Validation is so simple. Validation of a bipolar experience is simply a recognition that the person’s experience is real and really is part of bipolar disorder. For example, maybe you got angry with your loved one, unfairly, because of bipolar disorder. When you come back to apologize, if the loved one is able to acknowledge the part that bipolar played in your behavior, that is validation. It’s not that your unfair anger was okay, it’s not, it’s just that part of your behavior was directly impacted by something outside of your control.
Another example of bipolar experience validation is when a person empathizes with your struggle to do daily activities like showering, and they acknowledge that what is stopping you is an illness that you can’t control.
Not validating someone’s bipolar experiences is when someone says something like, “You’re just faking it.” Or when someone says something like, “You’re just lazy.”
Not validating a bipolar experience is when someone tells you that what you’re experiencing isn’t real and they also, typically, tell you it’s not part of bipolar disorder but is some sort of flaw in you. Obviously, when people tell you this, you start to feel very bad about yourself and maybe even doubt your own experiences and your illness.
Why Do People Not Validate Bipolar Experiences?
I spent many years not having my bipolar experiences validated, and this is often related to lack of family support. And I think there were many reasons for this. I think people don’t validate the experiences of bipolar disorder because:
- They don’t want to admit that you’re sick – this is distressing to them
- They don’t want to admit to the severity of your illness – again, this is distressing to them
- They are uneducated about bipolar disorder and mental illness
- They aren’t empathetic by nature
- They can’t identify with your bipolar experiences at all and so believe they can’t be real
- They have their own mental health issues that they are in denial about
And I’m sure there are many, many other reasons, too. But the similarity in all those reasons is this: it’s about them and not you. Your experiences with bipolar disorder are real, whether other people can see or admit to them or not.
Seeking Out Validation of Bipolar Experiences
If the people in your life refuse to validate your real and honest bipolar experiences, then seek out this validation elsewhere. Not to be too egotistical, but people typically find bipolar validation here at Bipolar Burble. I hope this is something that you experience, too.
But you can also find this type of validation through local mental health organizations (like NAMI and the DBSA), support groups, mental health programs, other writings and through psychotherapy (assuming you have a good psychotherapist).
And once you start finding your bipolar experiences validated, you will, honestly, feel better about them. No, validation doesn’t fix an illness, in fact, it doesn’t even fix a symptom, but what it does is allow you to understand that you are not alone. There are thousands – millions – of us out there – all like you. Many of us face what you face. Many of us experience what you experience. Believe me, if you’re experiencing it, even if people don’t want to admit to it, others are facing it too.
You’re not going to identify with everything others with bipolar experience, but there are so many similarities and these will validate your experiences.
So, please, know that you are not alone. Know that even if your loved ones refuse to validate you, validation is out there and it is real, honest and genuine. Seek it out. It will help you face your bipolar more effectively knowing that we are all there fighting with you.
Image provided by Wikipedia.
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.