There are several hurtful things that you could say to a person with Bipolar Disorder that will make them feel like garbage, destroy their self-confidence, and possibly contribute a trigger for an episode. So learn what they are and don’t say them!
What not to say to someone with Bipolar Disorder:
• “You are crazy/insane/abnormal/psycho.”
This can be taken as nonsense if it is clearly meant in terms of slang, but for someone who is newly diagnosed, or having a hard time with their diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, they may take it as meaning “completely unable to think clearly or behave properly”, which is pretty offensive.
• “Bipolar Disorder doesn’t exist.”
This revolves around validating the diagnosis. Validate the disorder and take your loved one seriously, otherwise you not taking them seriously could be detrimental to their treatment process.
• “Snap out of it.”
BP is a real illness and nobody can just come out of it, so don’t tell them to. It’s just plain ignorant!
• “It’s just hormonal/PMS.”
While hormones can make BP worse, BP is a disorder independent of any other. Don’t offend someone & mix it up with a different diagnosis. You will come off as ignorant and like you don’t care to learn the facts.
• “You have Bipolar, so you’re lazy/stupid/whiny.”
None of these offensive words are used to describe Bipolar Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. That’s all I’m going to say about this one.
• “You’ll never have a real life.”
That is simply not true. While living with BP certainly isn’t always easy, most everyone can have a very active and fulfilling life with the proper treatment and medication.
• “There is nothing wrong with you, everybody has mood swings.”
While it’s true that even among those who do not have a diagnosable disorder that has mood swings, people have changes in mood. The mood changes are usually due to circumstances in life, home, and health.
• “But you seem so normal!”
That may very well be. First I ask “what is normal?” Then I need people to understand that someone could be in between episodes, could be on medication that produces ‘normal’ behavioral results, or maybe you don’t see this person very often or haven’t known them very long. People can go years between episodes. Also, hypomania is very charismatic and attractive to others, so in that state someone with BP can potentially make several new friends.
• “Isn’t that what serial killers have?”
Probably not. Honestly, a serial killer is much more likely to have Antisocial Personality Disorder, or be a sociopath or psychopath.
• “Just take medication and you’ll be fine.”
While medication helps tremendously, it doesn’t always help everyone, and it certainly does not get rid of the disorder or treat all of the symptoms.
Please do not be afraid to talk to your friends and family members about their Bipolar diagnosis. This was just meant as a guide to help the ease of conversations between you and your loved ones.
Stay tuned for some helpful tips on how to offer support to your Bipolar peeps!