All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…

31 Days of Bipolar: Day 19. What people need to understand about bipolar


Day 19: What don’t people without bipolar understand about people with it?


People without bipolar have no understanding – and no way to understand – just how problematic and painful the mood swings can be.

It isn’t like the usual sway of emotions, the ups and downs of regular, hum-drum, normal life. The mood swings of bipolar are epic in nature; the highs extremely high and the lows extremely low. I don’t think anyone who isn’t bipolar can understand this. There is nothing to compare the highs and lows to as nothing comes close to the chaos of emotion that a bipolar person experiences.

The depression is more than unipolar depression; it is all-consuming in nature and leaves you wrecked, exhausted and unable to function. The mania isn’t just feeling a bit happy; it is feeling like you are a God, and nothing you do could ever be conceived as being wrong. Then comes the other states; the hypomania, which is like mania but not as pronounced, or the rapid cycling, which is a brutal state to be in as you don’t know which way is up and you’re being dragged left, right and center on a seemingly endless emotional roller-coaster.

Sure people can claim to understand the mood swings, they can claim to get it, but I really don’t think they do. I really don’t.

I also don’t think people without bipolar understand just how controlling these mood swings can be. It isn’t a case of just “getting over it” or “dealing with it”. It isn’t a case of just “ignoring it” or “pretending it isn’t there”. None of this works when it comes to a bipolar mood. The mood swings of bipolar are all-controlling; there is little you can do once you’re lost to the mayhem other than ride it out and hope to come out the other end relatively unscathed.

Some people think people with bipolar aren’t trying hard enough, and it is these people who need to understand just how severe the mood shifts of bipolar can be. Everyone with bipolar works there arse off every single day of their lives, they have to, otherwise the illness would consume them in an instant.

Bipolar people are strong – incredibly strong – and I think this, more than anything, is what people without bipolar need to understand.

What about you? What do you think people without bipolar don’t understand about people with it?

4 thoughts on “31 Days of Bipolar: Day 19. What people need to understand about bipolar

  1. Certainly we cannot understand what a bipolar malady is like because we have not experienced it. That is why it is vital that people like Addy share these moments and thoughts with those out there who never have these massive highs and lows as a ‘normal’ day.
    In saying that, as an actor on stage night after night, the coming down was usually long drawn and took some time because of the adrenalin rush on stage with the stress of lines, cues, audience reactions and the sheer joy of the moment. But, tomorrow I had to face another humdrum day at the office. So, for a moment in time we can understand to a small degree (1%) of what a bipolar experiences every moment of his life.
    Thank you so much for sharing these innermost thoughts and experiences so faithfully and bluntly. I cannot applaud you enough. You are a hero of our troubled times.


    • Trying to help other people understand the difficulties of living with mental illness is one of the primary reasons I started my blog, and continue to blog all these years later. Hopefully my words will inspire others and help them grasp just how painful (whilst at the same time, fulfilling) living with mental illness can be. Thank you for your kind words, and I wish you a wonderful day! :)


  2. I most certainly do not understand how low the lows must be and how high the highs must be for a person with Bipolar.


    • It’s one of those things that you can’t understand unless you experience it. This is why so much stigma exists around mental illness, and why so many people continue to believe those with mental illness are “putting it on” and “not trying hard enough”. Hopefully my words will help people understand to some extent just how painful it can be, if it does, then I’ve succeeded with my writing! :)


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