When Bipolar Disorder Makes Me Feel Useless

When Bipolar Disorder Makes Me Feel Useless

Bipolar disorder can absolutely make me feel useless. I woke up this morning and I went about my routine of feeding the cats, taking meds and so on. That’s fine. Then I sat down at my computer to start work. I started doing my social media tasks for the day, answering comments and so on. And then my brain just seized. Suddenly, thanks to bipolar disorder, I was useless.

What Does Being Useless Feel Like with Bipolar Disorder?

Being useless with bipolar disorder feels like it sounds – it feels like you’re a waste of space, skin and air. In my case, I tend to feel really useless when I can’t work. When I can’t do the things I’m paid to do, I just don’t know why I’m awake at all. I’m work-driven. I’m like that.

And keep in mind, bipolar disorder doesn’t just make me useless for work, it also makes me useless in life. If my brain is seized, it’s not like I can do other things, either. My brain just wants to stare at the wall – not even the television – the wall. Now that is seriously useless.

I’m not saying that your average person’s brain can’t seize, because it can, but mine does it so frequently and severely.

Why Does Bipolar Disorder Make You Feel Useless?

Of course, I don’t understand the human brain. What I do understand though, is that sometimes my bipolar brain turns into a rock. It thuds around in my skull capable of nothing. I hate feeling capable of nothing.

Sometimes I think it’s related to stress. If there is too much to do, I can freeze up completely. This is a normal, human reaction for some, but, certainly, you’ll find that it happens to many of those with bipolar far more often and far more easily.

Overdoing it can also make me useless thanks to my bipolar disorder. I only have so much energy and brain space for a day. And if I push through that, I will absolutely pay for it in the future. Similarly, if I don’t rest enough, my brain will take it out on me.

If Bipolar Disorder Makes You Feel Useless

Bipolar disorder can make me feel useless. Here's what to do when this happens to you: coping skills for uselessness and bipolar disorder.If bipolar disorder makes you feel useless, you have my sympathies. I know how much I hate it, how much I’m driven to beat myself up about it, and how so many people are standing right there with me.

That said, there are things to remember if bipolar disorder makes you feel useless:

  • Don’t beat yourself up. I know I just said I was driven to beat myself up because of feeling useless but I shouldn’t do that and you shouldn’t either.
  • This is a bipolar symptom, not a personal failing. One of the reasons I’m prone to feel guilty and shameful about this is because I do view it as a personal failing. But it isn’t. It’s a bipolar disorder symptom. It’s medical. It’s neurological.
  • Give yourself a break. If we understand that this is not a personal failing and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it, then we should give ourselves a break. This really crappy stuff happens with bipolar disorder and we need to allow for it gently and gracefully.
  • Stare at the wall. Okay, I’m not saying that you should spend hours staring at painted expanses, but I am saying that if that’s all your brain can do, just do it for a time. You can try to pry your eyes away in a little bit.
  • Rest. I’m a big believer in rest. I’m a big believer that if you rest now, you will be more useful later. If your brain won’t work, stop flogging it and trying to force it. Give it what it needs instead.

In short, when bipolar disorder makes me feel useless, I have to accept it without judgment. I have to accept that it’s a bipolar symptom and I have to accept that it just happens. I can’t stop it and it isn’t my fault.

I hope you know that if it happens to you, it’s not a failing on your part. It’s just your bipolar brain throwing a fit. And it does that from time to time, unfortunately.

(Also read: I Can’t Do Anything with Bipolar Depression — Or Can I?)

Banner image by Flickr user Kristina D.C. Hoeppner.


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.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.



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