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so why DO (some) people want to be bipolar?


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I've been thinking about this for a bit, mainly in response to seeing people's bafflement at why anyone would want to be bipolar (if they're not, or if they're not diagnosed with anything, or they're diagnosed with something else). Whenever I see people doing baffling things, I want to know why...

So here are some seven possible reasons, not mutually exclusive, ranging from the more annoying to the more worthy reasons. Plus, so that I'm not too un-judgmental, my suggestions for what they ought to get.

1) They've heard it used to excuse otherwise inappropriate behavior, and it sounds like a useful excuse. I was once in a counseling group where this (college) kid came in and he'd done something really inappropriate in his relationship with his girlfriend and her best friend, verbal abuse, and he really didn't want to take and responsibility either for the act or for dealing with the consequences, and offered up the explanation that perhaps he was bipolar. As someone else on this board once said, "No, I'm bipolar. You're an asshole." These people need 1) to be called on it real hard and 2) education. And figurative kicks to the head, less for them than to make us feel better.

2) Because it's trendy in their social group, or because they want attention. It makes people special, or at least it sounds that way when people talk about them, and it's more exciting than depression but less stigmatizing than schizophrenia. Also, it's mildly scandalous and good for attracting attention. [Note I'm not making any claims about whether this is true or a good thing or whatever, I'm just saying that I think some people think this.] These people need education and possibly a figurative kick to the head, sometimes only a gentle one depending on age.

3) Because the media overplays the pleasant kind of mania, and underportrays depression. Wouldn't it be great to feel extra-super-good? *I'd* sure as hell like to. People wanting to be bipolar for this reason could be mentally healthy and just greedy, or mentally ill in a way that has no ups. I think most of us have wanted some extra-good feelings while in the midst of depression. These people need education (particularly about the fact that hypo/mania can suck real bad and destroy your life), and in the latter case, better treatment, and probably some sympathy too.

4) We're famous and creative, or at least get portrayed that way, at least when we're not being portrayed as dangerous serial killers. Everybody wants to be brilliant, and brilliant+eccentric+famous is good too. Education. Reminders that mostly bipolar means extra hurdles to do the ordinary, day-to-day things mentally healthy people take for granted. And reminders that while there is an association between bipolar and creative, being bipolar will not necessarily make you creative and is virtually certain not to make you famous.

5) Because they have changes in their moods and don't realize that they've not severe enough to be bipolar. Or they're hypochondriac about mental disorders or something. Either way, there's a calibration problem. Education. But gently, because it's possible they really do meet criteria, and it might not be a bad thing for them to get evaluated anyway.

6) Because we have an attractive recovery narrative. Not everyone does, but a lot of people here have a narrative that goes, "There was something wrong with me for years and years and treatment wasn't successful. Now that I've been diagnosed bipolar, I'm finally on the right medications to help me." If you've had problems for years and years and treatment has been unsuccessful, it would be great if you could get diagnosed as something that would get you treatment that would actually help. Education. Everybody needs education. Plus pointers to better treatment for whatever it is. Possibly a new pdoc.

7) Because they'd done some research and the bipolar label fits them better than anything else. They haven't been diagnosed, because they haven't yet seen a pdoc, or they have a pdoc who isn't aware of or doesn't believe in the new spectrum stuff, or won't diagnose hypo/mania if it's not the euphoric kind. They may be right that they meet criteria for bipolar, in which case they need the relevant diagnosis and treatment. Either way, they probably need to see a pdoc or get a second opinion. I'm pretty sure a lot of us used to be here. I know I was.

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I've been nothing but depressed or kinda OK for fifteen years. I could handle a bit more variety and am guilty of thinking #3 sometimes.

Bipolar for a few weeks might be nice change of pace.

I guess I could always just get a couple ounces of cocaine for a lot of the same effect and have things work out just as well in the long run.

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Guest FrannyNZooey

Because they don't know the first fuckin thing about it!

Never had it ruin careers, marriages, God their freakin dignity, make them sit up all night either pacing or crying or both, asking why?

Thinking death was the answer, that is how great it is!

Aly

PS Cocaine is nothing like manic, sorry, you are so way off, it is offensive.

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I think some people would just like to have the chaos in their lives explained. When I was dx'ed, I felt a huge sigh of relief because I knew there was something different about me and no one could understand it. Like putting a face to a name. Of course, then I completely freaked out that I was mentally ill, but I thought I was on the right track by knowing. Little did I know, heh!

Plus I don't know anyone irl who would want to be BP. I'd tell them, "Spend a week with me and I'll change your mind!"

And in VE's defense, no, coke isn't really like mania, but I think speed can be, at least like hypomania. And you can go off the deep end with speed and it sort of turn into a manic-type thing. I can understand how a little mania thrown in would be attractive. Hell, that's the only part of the illness that is any fun.

Sam

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Cocaine makes me sleepy.

And I know some people who are dying to be considered MI. They have soooo many things wrong with them. And glance over the fact that its all in their heads for attention and excuses for their behavior.

I used to be offended when work people/friends would say how they didn't think mania was a big deal or that it would be "cool" to experience once in a while.

Then they saw first hand exactly how uncool it really looked like when I went batshit on a busy street, tried to climb the shelves at a store, or was yapping gibberish at top speed, flailing my arms, ripping my clothes off and rolling on the floor. Then no one thought it was seductive.

I do realize though that unless people experience something themselves, they don't totally understand.

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Then they saw first hand exactly how uncool it really looked like when I went batshit on a busy street, tried to climb the shelves at a store, or was yapping gibberish at top speed, flailing my arms, ripping my clothes off and rolling on the floor. Then no one thought it was seductive.

I do realize though that unless people experience something themselves, they don't totally understand.

Oh yeah. My coworkers already thought I was a nutcase, then I freaked out and was dx'ed with BP, then a year and a half later I freaked out and had to go to the hospital, so NONE of them want to come NEAR me (it's contagious, you know) much less want what I've got. I have been a walking, talking real life example of why someone doesn't want to be MI.

Now I get to go back to work and see how things have gone after everyone has been gossiping and conjecturing and betting when I freak out again for the last two weeks. I am sure that will help my stability!

Grain o' salt, grain o' salt...as my dad says, "It is what it is."

Sam

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This whole issue really gets up my nose. Yes, it's supercool and tons of fun to hear voices when there aren't any there. And gosh, could it get any better than being virtually bedridden with depression for three months. Or having to juggle meds so many times that you don't know what the hell's going on in your body anymore. (Not that you ever knew anyway.) And naturally I really appreciate being an adult in her midthirties who is still treated like a child by her family because "yes, you're very intelligent and highly talented, but we all know you're too sick to hold down a regular dayjob and if we don't check up on you regularly and ask you about medication we know fuckall about, then you'll fall apart".

<end rant>

Had a really crappy week here, as you can tell.

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here are a couple more relating to activism issues:

8. Wanting a more 'legitimate' disorder than depression. Depression, of course, is not actually less legitimate at all. And plenty of people don't take bipolar seriously. But there are a whole lot of people who will grant a seriousness to bipolar (those people are really crazy!) that they won't grant to depression. It can be very frustrating to be really crazy, yet have people insist you're okay. Response: education and pointing them toward activism.

9. Wanting your taking meds to be seen a matter of functioning ok, not a moral choice. Of course, plenty of people try to get bipolar people to stop taking their meds. But the public debate largely revolves around depression (and ADD), and there's more recognition of the need for people with bipolar disorder to take maintenance medication. Education, activism.

When I was diagnosed bipolar, #9 was a huge relief to me - I knew that I needed long-term medication, but continuously running into public debate over whether depressed people ought to be taking medication was emotionally exhausting. I felt like I had to justify it even to myself, despite the fact that I couldn't function without it.

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I 'wanted' to be bipolar for most of my teenage years, mostly because I was suffering major depressions and had read Dr. Jamieson's 'An Unquiet Mind'. I recognised what she was talking about, but was waaaaay too messed up to communicate to anyone else what I was going through. I was quietly going crazy on a regular basis, but keeping it all well inside so no-one realised. And I mildly resent the 'wanting it for attention' stuff - I was told that repeatedly and still have issues about going to the doctor because of it. I tend to think people will think I'm making it up/attention seeking unless I'm really out-of-control ill. It took prozac sending me into mania for anyone to take things seriously, after ten years of repressing it all on my own.

I know what people are really saying is that they dislike the romanticised version of bipolar that we often get in the media and stuff, but I just think you should be careful how you phrase things. Some people 'want' to be bipolar because they realise that they are, but just don't know how to express it.

Fuck it, I don't know if this makes any sense....I hope it does, and isn't offensive ;)

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btw, in case it's not clear, the reason I'm writing all this up is because knowing why people want to be bipolar or think they're bipolar despite not being bipolar, not appearing to be bipolar, or not having been diagnosed, might help our problem with them, as well as whatever problem makes them want to be bipolar, or think they're bipolar, in the first place. It's an ongoing issue that makes a lot of people around here upset and/or offended, and I thought some in-depth consideration might come up with something useful.

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Hey, like I said, I don't mean to offend. It's just that I spent so long fighting on my own without knowing how to ask for the right kind of help, and I guess some of the issues that arose from that are still pretty raw. Possibly I project them onto other people..... sorry......

And Aly, you and me both!

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as someone who, years ago, took massive amounts of cocaine for quite some time i can assure you that it can mess up your life just as badly as bp as VE was trying to communicate. its not the SAME life mess up as BP but it can/does mess up your life just as badly none-the-less. and to say that it doesnt or isnt as bad - well, i find that offensive and it leaves me speechless.

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Effect on my life? Now that just so totally Blows me away I can not even respond.

You got me speechless.

Aly

One last time. What I was trying to say was that from time to time I think "gee I wish could be manic" but then I also think "gee I wish I had a couple ounces of coke." Anything to break up the tedium of feeling nothing but different shades of blah. On further contemplation I realize both are silly ideas because at least with shades of blah there is some kind of stability in my life. Blowing through a couple ounces of coke a week and manic bp states are alike in that they tend to rob one's life of that.

I don't think you quite grasp what going on that kind of binge does to person. I said this to support the view that people don't realize how destructive mania can be, that for someone to whish they were bipolar is to wish for destruction.

If you can't follow that, sorry, I've done my best.

And please, let's not get personal here.

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Hey gang,

Lets not get into personal assaults here about "my cocaine habit was worse than your improperly diagnosed bipolar depression was worse than your childhood".

The topic was dealing with people who think it's fashionable to be Bipolar.

My perspective? I know I'm getting older than dirt, comparatively, but I can't imagine anyone legitimately wanting to be Bipolar, any more than wanting to have liver cancer. Isn't anyone you've seen expressing this really just immature, childish and not a well formed adult?

a.m.

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I guess we have to keep in mind the difference between wanting to be bipolar 'cause you think it's fashionable, and wanting the diagnosis because you're sure that that would explain what the fuck's been happening to you....

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Guest Guest

think you are just stepping on the truly bipolar toes. And comments on here such as taking cocaine and getting same effect as mania is truly so fucked!

And thinking that would be same effect on Life?

Sorry to fuck up your wanting to find out, but you really think just wannabes are going to come out and play this game?

did I snort, go buy bipolar?

I know call me asshole bitch, but honestly, let set the record straight.

I was not out partying, I was teen at home when this shit offset.

Just trying to study, live, get through HS, life.

i'm going to defend noemie and hard-core addicts--oh, and btw, around 60% of bipolars have or had substance abuse problems (correct me people if i'm a bit off).

noemie defense:

obviously, this is CB. she doesn't expect wannabe-normals to come out of the woodwork and confess or otherwise comment here--cuz they ain't here. i think she's just getting a conversation going. perhaps hoping we can talk about how education will help them and help us. they get the real help they need. we get relief from misunderstanding/stigma.

addiction defense:

what do addicts and bipolars have in common in bringing their disease upon themselves? they were coping. according to the reigning theory, bipolar is something you can develop--but you don't have to. Bipolar results from the interaction between environment and genetic disposition. not everyone with bipolar has it in their family. addiction has also been shown to have a genetic factor.

So, ask yourself, when those first few life stressors hit you, what did you do? did you get emotional? you failed to immediately do some zen meditation? don't tell me you had an extra piece of chocolate or said "fuck it, i'm going to yell at someone, do something risky or self-damaging or exciting--to deal". well guess what, you may have started giving yourself bipolar. Are you sure you want to play the blame game?

now let's look at effects on your life:

bipolars: suicide attempts are around 30%

heroin addicts never recover 70% of the time. these usually die from suicide, overdose, etc.

Addiction and Bipolar are both deadly serious. And they are both stigmatized.

7

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Guest FrannyNZooey

Hi Aly,

what did I do to piss you off? I can think of many ways to find out why a given person, or set of people, would want to be bipolar, but I'm more interested in understanding why I offended you.

Nothing noemie, think last post of mine was summary of it all.

I would like to know also.

Guess just all in the day of being a true bipolar and reading things saying and hey yeah this was like bipolar, and I want to be bipolar, it does get to us that are you know truly living biploars.

Aly

oops!!

Sorry. That was me up there defending noemie and addicts.

got my anti-manics upped (#%@!! what's wrong with being giddy anyway?)

7

Yeah Seven, so noted in my last post, but not the same. You know the relation of bipolar to addiction. Kind of like chicken and egg.

Anyway said I was taking leap there, and not one that was going to be favorite on the boards.

But been there and done that, and what I have to say.

Aly

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