The following post was written as a response to another half-informed comment thread in my post “Bipolar Disorder: A Reason Or An Excuse?”. The comment about Downs stems from another comment where the original author weakly related the two.
At any rate, I decided to turn this into a post, primarily so I would have some place to point people instead of needing to repeat my response on a continued and regular basis. Enjoy!
As posted by Sandi:
“People with Down Syndrome, on average, aren’t as likely as bipolar people to gaslight, cheat on, manipulate, squeal at, violently attack, or play mindgames with people they claim to love as Bipolar people are.
Yes, they ARE different.
I know an individual who has bipolar and his behaviour is ABHORRENT, and I’ve mostly only talked to him on the phone so far. Lying to me (mixing up details, having a “poor memory”, denying having said things, usually negative ones, gaslighting me and shitting on my self esteem, telling me I overanalyze him when I’m just asking a simple question or mistaking what he says for something else (not necessarily anything “deeper” or more psychological like he says I’m doing), using his mother’s sickness as an excuse for not answering valid and gently phrased questions while MY mother was DYING)
Oh, you know, little things like that.
Bipolar people absolutely do know the way their behavior effects others because even though a good percentage of them are little glops of horse jizz who have no empathy, empathy is not necessary to be aware of the fact that others are hurt, just to CARE that they are hurting them. And sadly many of them don’t care. But they know.
And don’t listen to dopes like Natasha Tracy who write Bipolar apology articles, which trick normal humans into dating these (likely to be- not all, but likely to be) uncompassoinate freaks of nature instead of being responsible and warning others that they have higher rates of narcissism and destructive behaviour. Apparently, their “rights” to not be “stereotyped” are more important than keeping the rest of us normies safe.
I am so sick of apolgizing for mentally ill behavior (some of it is stuff like losing temper and control of one’s body, but other stuff, especially the verbal stuff like the pathological lying and the purposeful confusing of the other person for NO reason even of self defense, is on purpose by default).
We have become a society that talks too much about psychology and too little of morals, and sometimes there is such thing as a moral illness.”
At first, I was tempted to sluice this post into the spam heap; but I decided against it.
The similarity that Bipolar Disorder shares with Downs (and many other mental illnesses) is the physical difference of the brain. Some people are born with defective livers, kidneys, lungs; some people are born with defective brains. Many mental illnesses (such as Bipolar Disorder) are genetic. My family has a history of Bipolar Disorder, as do many others. So behavior-wise, no, they are not the same. They are the same in that they are the result of physical problems with the brain that impact functionality in a negative way.
In regards to the individual you know – why are you still talking to them if they are so awful to you? How about not letting them do it? How about distancing yourself from the person? How about minimizing the damage the person can do to you?
Time and time again, people lament on how awful they are treated by a Bipolar person, never once considering that they simply don’t have to be involved.
I regularly see people complain that Bipolar Disorder is used an excuse. My question is – what difference does it make? The only thing stopping you from standing up for yourself is you. Would it make you feel better if the person would just say “hey, I’m an asshole!” How many terrible people have you known to do that, who were not just seeking attention? How many dozens of times have you heard “he seemed so nice” or “I’ve known him all my life” right after some horror came to light?
“Blah blah blah. They use it an excuse.” No. People that whine about it being used as an excuse are the ones using it as an excuse. NOTHING is stopping you from standing up for yourself and saying “You can’t do this, this is wrong.” and taking steps to remove yourself from that situation.
So let’s talk about a problem of society; a society that values opinions and feelings more than facts. I’m sick of people acting like they’re entirely helpless and putting the responsibility on someone who is KNOWN TO BE MENTALLY ILL to make good, rational decisions. That seems like a fantastic idea! Let’s also walk out into the middle of a highway blindfolded. I’m sure that will work out great too.
I’m sick of people thinking their feelings and opinions are a replacement for fact. It’s clear that you’re angry and upset about being treated badly; as you should be. That is fair and valid. Making sweeping statements about the Disorder and the people suffering from it based on those feelings? Not so much.
I’m sick of ignorant people thinking that Bipolar Disorder is some new or made up mental illness. The oldest surviving mention of the Disorder is from one thousand years ago in The Canon of Medicine, written by the Persian doctor Avicenna. Early on it was known as the Circular Illness, then it became Manic-Depression, now it’s Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder has a long and storied history; ranging from the pens of the Persian physician to Chinese doctors of the 1500s to the European developments of the 1800’s and 1900’s that paved the understanding we have today.
We have become a society that talks too much about psychology and too little of morals, huh? There’s another argument I’m sick of hearing. Humanity is no different today than it has ever been. People pine for the alleged golden age; a time when racism and sexism were fine. A time when mentally ill people were locked away in asylums in conditions worse than prisons with even less rights. Humanity has always been awful and always will be.
And some people are just toxic people who also happen to be mentally ill. Some people are mentally ill and able to maintain some sense of normalcy with the assistance of meds, self-management, and support from friends and family. Some people cannot be helped. Some people can.
You always have a choice. You can choose who you let into your life and how you let them affect you. It may not always be a good choice, but at least you have one.
We, on the other hand, have to spend the rest of our lives dealing and managing this mental illness – 24/7/365 – while being bombarded by the unfounded, asinine opinions of people who seem to think that “oh, it’s just a matter of making better decisions” or “be a better person”.
And no matter how awful you think you’ve been treated – I can guarantee you that person has done just as bad to themselves; oftentimes without even realizing the destruction and chaos they create. People like you act like being mentally ill is a get out of jail free card, like the crap we do in our lives doesn’t have repercussions. It ALL does. It’s miserable, horrible, and painful; and that’s part of the reason why untreated Bipolars have a 20%+ suicide rate.
But hey! I guess I could have easily avoided those 7 suicide attempts, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, dozens of lost jobs, two broken engagements, ruined relationships, homelessness, and screwing up college if I was just a more moral, better person!
I’m kind of confused though. I mean, I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into helping inform people, helping them find local services, being a shoulder, pulling them out of depression, tempering their escalations, and calming their fears. I’ve helped a few people leave abusive relationships. I’ve helped a vet past his hurdles to seek care for his PTSD. I’ve been a friend to people who felt like they had no one in this world; listening to their darkest pains and thoughts. I’ve encouraged at least a couple dozen people back into therapist and doctor’s offices, helped them communicate with their professionals better, and push towards wellness.
Yet here I am, still Bipolar! I must not be moral enough? I must not care enough? Is that right?
I have ALWAYS been capable of empathy and care. However, this little glop of horse jizz spent years full of hate, anger, and self-loathing; unable to keep anything together because of the physically rooted mental illness I inherited. I was able to attain a large degree of perspective and understanding by educating myself on the Disorder, how it’s treated, how it affects me, and medication.
I do agree with you on one point though; caring and empathy are woefully rare in this world. Particularly from people who stand behind their “morals” to pass judgment on people and things they know nothing about.
And despite our “disagreement” on the basic facts of mental illness, I am very sorry to hear about what you went through with your mother. That must have been extremely painful and difficult for you. My condolences to you and your family.
Should you have thoughts or questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . I read and reply to everything that I’m sent. I also have many more original articles available on my main website www.bipolarmanifesto.com .
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