I have bipolar and I lie. I have bipolar and I often feel my life is a lie. It isn’t lying about where I’ve been or what I’ve done — honesty about those things is easy — I lie about bipolar disorder. I lie about how I feel. I lie about what goes on inside my brain. And one of the biggest bipolar lies I tell is that I have “good days and bad days.” I know that when you have an illness you are supposed to say that. You are supposed for a whole host of reasons. So I say it. When people ask me how I am, I smile and say that my bipolar has good days and bad days. It’s a lie.

Why Lie?

Everybody lies. I know that and you know that. Everybody lies because it’s easier than telling the truth. There is a convenience to lying. You don’t want to tell the truth because of some impact it would have on you or maybe the other person. Lying is just easier than dealing with that impact.

When we carry this over to bipolar disorder, then, it’s easy to see why people lie about bipolar disorder. We lie about bipolar disorder to avoid the impact of the truth. For example, if I really tell you the truth that I’ve been depressed for years, I really feel bad about it. You really feel bad about it. Lying prevents all those bad feelings.

Why Lie About Bipolar Disorder?

And let’s not forget that if you are one of those depressed people, every smile is a little lie. Again, it’s easier to lie than deal with the impact. It’s easier for people to think you’re fine than deal with all the questions about how you’re really feeling. It’s much easier than having horrible conversations about how yoga/working out/a gluten-free diet/the latest shaman/stopping your medication would “fix” you. And boy is it easier than having to defend the very fact that depression exists to all those antipsychiatry folks out there. Lying is a critical skill for a person with a mental illness. We’re already very tired from being very sick. We don’t have it in us to constantly console you, explain everything to you, argue with you, and justify ourselves.

Lying About Having Good Days and Bad Days in Bipolar Disorder

I do not have good days and bad days with bipolar disorder -- I just lie and say I do. Learn why those with bipolar may lie about having good and bad days.

And this brings us to the specific lie in question: why lie about having good and bad days in bipolar disorder? It’s a lie that I have told over and over. It’s a lie I will say again and again in the future too.

And there are so many reasons why.

First off, lying and saying that I have good days and bad days in bipolar disorder gives off the light of hope. It makes the other person this, “Oh, she’s sick but it’s not that bad.” Or “It’s only bad some of the time, so that’s okay.”

This hope makes the other person feel better. Yes, I’m the one with a life-threatening, chronic illness and I’m trying to make you feel better about it. (Trust me, this is a common thing in the spoonie community.)

Secondly, when I say I have good days and bad days in bipolar it allows the other party to assume that I am having a good day right now. The other person doesn’t have to dig any deeper about today because clearly, it’s a “good” day if I’m out with another person. It lets the person off the hook — for today, anyway.

Also, it provides the other person an “out” with regards to worrying. Clearly they don’t have to worry about their chronically-ill-possibly-near-death friend because they have “good” days to go along with their “bad” days. Clearly, the sick person is managing just fine and just lives for those “good” days. And obviously that’s hard, but the sick person does it over and over so there is nothing to worry about. (It’s kind of like saying, “Well, you’ve been suicidal before and not killed yourself then, obviously you’re not going to kill yourself today.” I wonder how times that preceded a death.)

Now please understand, it’s not your fault that I lie to you. I make the choice. Me. I’m the one who chooses to avoid the fallout of the truth. I’m the one dodging the impact of honesty.

The Truth the Bipolar Lies Cover Up

And what is the honest truth?

The honest truth is that I haven’t had a really “good” day since 2010. I tried to kill myself that year, but I also had about three months of bliss as a new medication kicked in and made life worth living. It was magical. I actually wanted to smile and I meant it when I did. When I said I was happy for someone, I really was. When I said I enjoyed something, I really did. It was like heaven for me.

And the truth is that those feelings evaporated just as I was starting to trust their existence. I’m a smart girl. I know that medications can do weird things in the short-term. I wasn’t about to tell people that I was feeling better and then disappoint them — again. But after feeling that way for a few months, I felt like it was real.

I do not have good days and bad days with bipolar disorder -- I just lie and say I do. Learn why those with bipolar may lie about having good and bad days.

But reality has a way of shifting on the crazy rather unexpectedly and unfairly. And for me, this meant a return to the hellish dungeon that is depression. It meant fake smiles. It meant never being happy for me, let alone anyone else. It meant not feeling joy for anything I did. That’s what it really meant.

And that’s what it has meant ever since then.

I do not have good bipolar days. Not really. I do not have days where the joy returns. I do not have days where my smile is real. Those things don’t happen.

That being said, some days the pain is worse than others, so some days are worse than others. But make no mistake — I handle my days, I do not enjoy them. I work through my days, I do not look forward to them.

The Impact of Not Lying About Bipolar

Did you want to know that? Nope, I’m pretty sure you didn’t want to know that. I’m pretty sure, in fact, that you’re sitting there wishing you hadn’t read it. Because those things I just said mean things. And they mean negative things, not positive ones. They might mean you feel sorry for me. They might mean you feel painful empathy. They might mean all kinds of things but none of them are pleasant.

And I’m sorry for that; I am. I’m sorry I just have bad and worse days. Part of my job here is to give you hope. Part of my job is to ensure you see hope in your situation. My job is not to squelch what hope you do have, that’s for sure.

But here’s what I can say about hope: If I, who hasn’t seen happiness in nine years, can get up and find a way to face another day that will likely suck, then so can you. There is absolutely nothing so special about me. I’m just a person. I’m just a person who wants to feel better. I’m just a person who doesn’t want to be sick — just like you.

So in all honesty, I will keep saying the bipolar lie that “I have good days and bad days” because it will alleviate people from what you’re feeling right now. It will soften the blow of my illness and make my day easier too. I hope you understand. I don’t like lying. It’s actually one of my lesser-favorite things. But it is an important thing.

Image by Flickr user Rafael Peñaloza.

Image two by SketchPort user Hababoon.