Know someone living with bipolar disorder? Watch this video featuring Gabe and his wife to learn 3 things you should never say to someone with bipolar.
Kendall: Kendall Howard – hi!
Gabe: -to talk about three things that you should not say to somebody who is living with bipolar disorder. The first thing is….
Kendall: “Calm down!”
Gabe: First off, “calm down” is just not helpful to anybody; forget about the bipolar diagnosis. If somebody is agitated, upset, bothered, concerned, or anxious, walking up to them and saying, “Calm down!” is not going to magically flip a switch and make them think, “Oh! What was I thinking? I should just check my emotions immediately because you said so!” So, it is just not helpful advice. Better advice would be: “You seem upset. Is there something that I can help you with?” Or just simply ask them how they are doing. Say, “How are you?” Don’t make the judgement.
Kendall: Number two – “I’m not sure why you are doing that. You are just going to lose interest in this tomorrow.”
Gabe: Part of living with bipolar disorder is the grandiose thinking, the hypomania, the mania, and this idea that we can do anything. We do have a tendency to get excited about projects and quit them the next day. However, having somebody wander around and point out all of our failure points, all of our failings, or even just our habits – it’s just not helpful. It’s not constructive. I understand why the people around me might want to wait a few days or even a few weeks to see if I naturally lose interest. However, they don’t need to wander around the day that I start something and say, “Hey! You’re going to fail.” That’s not helpful and also, many of us, most of us, in fact, all of us, have achieved a great many things. So being told by the people around us that we are going to fail the second that we start is not supportive.
Kendall: Last, but most certainly not least – “That’s not how ‘normal’ people do it.”
Gabe: First off, “normal” is a setting on a dryer! That is one of my favorite quotes. But listen, we’re not normal! We are people that are managing a lifelong illness. So, the way that we do things is going to be different. And some of the reasons that we do things differently are going to be coping skills, or things we have learned, or because we have better outcomes. And quite frankly, some of it is just going to be personality. It is because that is the way we prefer to do things. Saying, “That’s not normal,” to somebody who is living and managing bipolar disorder is the literal equivalent of saying to somebody in a wheelchair, “Hey, that’s not how ‘normal’ people walk up the steps!” It’s not helpful and it shows the person that you don’t understand what they are going through. And it is just, frankly, not a very nice thing to say.
So, we always like to assign homework for these things. What are some of the things that people say to you while you are living with and managing bipolar disorder that just makes you go bonkers? Things that you wish people would not say, and maybe an example of something that you would prefer them to say, instead?
So, my name is Gabe Howard for bphope.com and the bipolar Magazine on-line vlogging community. Kendall and I are out!
Gabe Howard is an award-winning speaker, writer, and advocate who lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. He’s the creator of the official bipolar shirt. (Get yours now!) He can be reached via his website, www.GabeHoward.com.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community