By Emmie Pombo
#Bipolardisorder is a complicated #mentalillness. It has a variety of layers and symptoms, which can make it difficult to understand. However, this doesn’t mean that it — or the people who have it — should have to deal with unfair assumptions and misconceptions.
As someone who has struggled with #bipolardisorder since I was nine, there are several misunderstandings I have faced from others because they had no idea what the condition is actually like. And for those of us with #bipolardisorder, these interactions make us feel as if we’re not loved or supported.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
Here are some of the things I’ve heard that people get wrong about #bipolardisorder.
Myth: We’re more troubled
The struggle associated with having a #mentalillness can be similar, regardless of what a person’s actual diagnosis is. Having #bipolardisorder is hard; having schizophrenia is hard; having #borderlinepersonalitydisorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder or #depression is hard. We all have to work toward recovery.
Just because a label makes an illness sound more “intense,” usually due to portrayals in popular culture, doesn’t mean that it actually is. The assumption that those with #bipolardisorder are more troubled due to the name of our illness is just a lack of understanding. In truth, the severity of #mentalillness varies across diagnoses.
Myth: We only feel two emotions
Another common assumption is that since people with #bipolardisorder swing from mania to #depression, those are the only emotions we’re able to feel. Although it’s true those emotions are often a major part of a person’s symptoms and are felt very deeply, that doesn’t mean we don’t feel confusion, peace, confidence, happiness and all sorts of other emotions, too.
It is also true that based on #bipolar type, people with this condition experience varied intensities of mania or #depression. However, in no case are they the only two emotions we ever experience.
Myth: We don’t know how to function in society
Despite all that may be going on inside, many of us with #bipolardisorder have learned how to put on a “normal” face for the outside world. We have learned over the years how to use our tools and coping skills to keep symptoms under control. For someone who actively works to manage their emotions and take care of themselves, others may not even know that they struggle with #mentalillness.
With that said, please keep in mind that we’re not a danger to society — you probably can’t even tell us apart from anyone else.
Myth: We’re always aware of how we act
During a manic episode, people with #bipolardisorder can have what’s called a bipolar blackout. During a blackout, the individual is not aware of their surroundings or actions and has trouble remembering them afterward. This can make interacting with someone in a blackout very frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be.
The more you educate yourself, the more you’ll be able to help during an episode. I had many blackouts growing up, which makes memories of my childhood very fuzzy. I only remember about 40-50% of my childhood due to incorrect diagnoses, wrong medications and inadequate coping skills. Remember to be patient when someone is experiencing a blackout or an episode, and to offer help when they come out of it.
Myth: Therapy and medication is a cure-all
Much like every other #mentalillness, #bipolardisorder cannot be “cured.” Even with treatment, people with #depression will still feel down, people with #anxiety will still have anxious moments and people with #bipolardisorder will still have swings from time to time. However, the introduction of therapy and/or medication can significantly help a person’s mood, actions and well-being. #Bipolardisorder can be treated — and a person can learn to live well with #bipolardisorder — even if being cured is not currently possible.
#Bipolardisorder can be considered a “rarer” disorder as opposed to #depression or #anxiety, which are talked about more often among the general public. However, that does not mean that having #bipolardisorder makes you any less of a person or that you will necessarily have a harder time getting through life. With the right tools, there is always a way to live with your #mentalillness and find the peace, rest and understanding you deserve.
Emmie Pombo is a #mentalhealthadvocate originally from Upstate New York hoping to bring knowledge and understanding about #mentalillnesses and struggles that go along with them. Majoring in Digital Journalism at Southeastern University, she works as an editor and marketing strategist and is looking to focus on #mentalhealthawareness.