There’s a myth that people with bipolar disorder are brilliant. There’s a myth that people with bipolar disorder are geniuses. There’s a myth that bipolar disorder has made us “special.” None of this is true. People with bipolar disorder are just people with an illness. And like any other person battling any other illness, the illness may affect us, even greatly, but it does not define us entirely. People with bipolar disorder are just regular people and that’s okay.
Bipolar Disorder and Brilliance, Intelligence Myths
As I said, it is a myth that people with bipolar disorder are brilliant — of high intelligence. As the first line of this scientific study abstract says:
“Bipolar disorder type-I (BD-I) patients show a lower Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and smaller brain volumes as compared with healthy controls.”
People want to believe that those with bipolar disorder are more intelligent than others because it’s seductive to believe that bipolar disorder has given us a gift to make up for all the things it has taken away. But just because this line of thinking is seductive, doesn’t make it true. In fact, people with bipolar disorder are less intelligent than others in many ways. So, no, we are not brilliant and we are not more intelligent than others.
Bipolar Disorder and Genius Myth
It should come as no surprise that people with bipolar disorder are not geniuses either. If we were, there would be a whole lot of geniuses walking around all over the place.
That being said, bipolar disorder is associated with creativity. This association with creativity tends to show that those with bipolar disorder have more creative pursuits. To me, this makes perfect sense. People with bipolar disorder are having thoughts, feelings and emotions that exist on the outer corners of the human experience. These thoughts, feelings and emotions are so usual that it warps how we think in general — but that may just be creativity at work. If everyone else sees red but you see blue, you are naturally going to produce more creative art, poetry, music and so on.
So, while people with bipolar disorder are not geniuses, we do tend to be more creative than others. Of course, just because you have bipolar disorder doesn’t necessarily mean that you have increased creativity. We are all different.
People with Bipolar Disorder Are Just People, and That’s Not a Myth
Saying these truths out loud isn’t mean to be insulting, it’s meant to be honest.
My point here is that people with bipolar disorder don’t have to be exceptional to be accepted. We don’t have to be “extra” just to prove we are worthy. We may not be geniuses and we may not be brilliant. And just like with everyone else, that’s okay.
A lot has been taken from us because of bipolar disorder, but that doesn’t mean that we got gifts to make up for it. We got a bad bounce of the genetic ball. That’s all. There are people around us dealing with all sorts of other pieces of bad luck. They aren’t geniuses or brilliant because of it either. And that’s okay too.
So, the next time you hear people making false claims about bipolar disorder — even if they seem positive — remember, all that does is create more of a barrier people with bipolar disorder have to overcome to be accepted just as we are, and that is not positive.
I’m publishing this on World Bipolar Day 2021. Check out this piece on myth-busting for World Bipolar Day too.