Being Honest When You Have Bipolar

Being Honest When You Have Bipolar

I am rarely honest with anyone about my bipolar disorder. I admit it. I think, on some level, my friends know it. Lack of honesty with bipolar disorder is just better. At least, it’s better if you want to keep your friends.

See, my reality of bipolar disorder is extreme. It’s severe. It’s brutal. It’s constantly life-threatening. And people can’t handle that. Going on about how painful bipolar is, is just a good way to wear someone out. It’s just a good way to make someone tired of you. It’s just a good way to make them walk away.

I have learned this lesson the extremely hard and painful way. I have watched people walk. Over and over. The people with whom I have been honest, in the end, couldn’t handle it. It was too hard to watch me being sick with bipolar so much of the time. Which, in a way, is a testament to how much they cared. Sort of. I would just have preferred they not express it in that way.

Be Honest about Your Bipolar – You Can Call me Any Time

People have said this to me many times. And they mean it. At the time. They just don’t know what they saying. They don’t know what they’re asking for. They don’t know what it’s like to get a desperate call from a suicidal person wailing in the phone. When in life do you get those kind of calls? Only if you know someone with bipolar disorder (or a similar illness).

I’m Sorry, It’s Just Too Much for Me

Statement one, plus honesty about bipolar, inevitably ends up with statement two. I wish that weren’t true. But I keep seeing it over and over again. And living that reality. Trusting someone with your heart. Trusting someone with your innermost pain and then watching them abandon you – it’s soul-wrenching.

All This Lying about Bipolar is So Lonely

Being honest about what it's like to be bipolar can harm relationships. Should you lie about your bipolar feelings?I really hate lying – about bipolar or anything else. It’s not my thing. I grew up in a family of lies so I’ve kind of developed an untruth allergy. At least with bipolar disorder it’s mostly lies through omission. That’s easier to bare. Slightly.

I know not all people are in this position. I know that there are people out there who have honest relationships with others. I know there are people who really are honest about their bipolar disorder, depression, self-harm, suicidal urges, psychosis and the other nasty bits of mental illness. I know this. These people are very fortunate. These people have met others who are strong enough to bear the life-rending implications of mental illness. If this is you, you are very lucky.

But for the rest of us, it’s very lonely. I think my best advice is:

  • Get a therapist – you can generally be honest with them and they can bear it
  • Spread out the honesty – when you do talk to people in your life, don’t just express all your pain to one person, it’s too much. Try to express just a little, here and there, to different people.

And while I do think honesty is very important, I think keeping friends and other loved ones around you is probably more important. You’ll need them, in the ways that they can be there, even if it’s not in the way you most want.


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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