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Discuss in my forum

 Marcia Purse

When Do You Tell Someone You Have Bipolar Disorder?

By February 8, 2008

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You’ve just struck up a conversation with another member of your exercise class. You’ve spotted that gorgeous woman you’ll ask out when you get up the nerve. You’ve recently had a new coworker assigned to your cubicle hub. You have new people in your life that you hope or have to get to know better. At what point, if at all, should you bring up the topic of bipolar disorder? How do you discuss that you have a mental illness? I recently had this discussion with a group of friends because one of them had a great experience with sharing about her diagnosis. I thought this would be encouraging and give some insight for all of us when we are in these situations.

    She says, “I met this handsome man and I told him my story about my illness. I educated him on what it was and what it meant. I told him my accomplishments and how I had to rebuild my life, etc. When we left, I thought he was going to ask for my phone number. He didn't.

    “My sister said, 'You expected him to ask for your number after you told him you had a mental illness?' And then she sarcastically added, 'You should at least wait until your second or third date.'

    “Well, I went into my email today and there was an email from him inviting me to go with him to an event and he included his cell phone number. I called him and we now have a date for coffee.

    “Yay for the educational approach. It has worked every time for me in my career and in my social life.”

This has worked out well for my friend. What have your experiences been?

~Kimberly

Comments
February 11, 2008 at 7:01 am
(1) stef says:

I admire your ability to be so honest. I feel sneeky because i didnt tell my husband i have bipolar and schizophernia untill we were about to get maried. I have been maried 2 years and sometimes i feel like i tricked him and he could have done better with somone who didnt need all the expencive medicine, psychatrist appointments, occasional hospitalization and special understanding. Because you told him straight out you will never have feel this intense guilt. I congradulate you.

May 31, 2011 at 8:23 pm
(2) David says:

Well I have played it both ways! We tend to be very intelligent beings, therefore, be selective is my choice. I will not share with everyone thAt I was rapped as a child I try and stay with people that are happy and positive with conversations. I am over fifty gay with HIV and an amputee from cancer. It may take me a full day to share all that going on in my life. I have really never excepted the two dieses so to let other ple all the medical treatment that is going inside of me.Sharing my medical records would scare Jesus away so I selective with that conversation

February 12, 2008 at 4:01 pm
(3) Marie Couture says:

Dear Kimberly,
I wish things could turn out as good for me but I doubt they will. I did a little worse than telling right away a guy I had bipolar disorder. I fell sick to be hospitalized just days after I had been apointed to a new department as an administrative assistant at work. When this guy and I got introduced to each other I found him so attractive. We are about the same age between 45 and 50. Well a month later I had to drag myself to ER due to a mania doubled with psychosis. I left a few messages to this guy from the hospital, one of which was letting him know that I was embarassed to talk to him directly. When later discharged from the hospital ward (Feb 7, 2008) I sent him an e-mail of apology but he did not reply. I am so scared about returning to work and having to face the consequences. Mind you he looks like a calm guy and I think he will understand that I was sick but I have absolutely no hope into eventually date this guy.

Regards,

Marie

February 12, 2008 at 7:34 pm
(4) brandi says:

I always tell everyone up front that I have bipolar no matter who they are in my life. I also have fibromyalgia. But I have noticed during my life most people are understanding and my children are the most understanding. I have never has an issue with people “backing away” because of it.

February 13, 2008 at 10:11 pm
(5) Fran says:

I have never told anyone other than my very closest friends about being bipolar. I don’t understand why it is necessary. I also don’t share that I have high blood pressure or a heart valve disorder. I’m not ashamed; it just doesn’t occur to me to share my medical conditions with others.

February 14, 2008 at 12:30 pm
(6) Shannon says:

I think it depends. If you spend a good amount of time around someone or a group, you can get a sort of gage for how they would take this information. For instance, I don’t mind one of my jobs knowing I have bipolar because it is a restaurant and a good number of the employees have something or are in various stations in life (in fact, one of the managers who was there before has bipolar 1). So I figured they would not judge me if they didn’t judge anyone else. However, I did not tell some ‘church people’ about it because I have been judged by people of that persuasion (usually as having a ‘spiritual problem’, a bad spirit needing exorcism, or a lack of faith) and I don’t particularly need that. Now I might mention it to people in my current denomination (Episcopal), but not people in my former groups (Baptist/pentecostal/non-denominational).

I don’t usually mention it at my day job until I get a feel for the people, but it isn’t always relevant. When I was dating I mentioned it to potential suitors because there is a possibility it might make a difference.

So I think it depends on the person, your comfort level with them, and their need to know.

September 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm
(7) Tania says:

Thanks Shannon. I wish I had read this BEFORE I had that date with the perfect guy. Oh well. His loss… (Yeah, I know, sour grapes. I write this having spent the last 12 hours crying…) I’ve known him less than a week, but it still REALLY hurts…

February 15, 2008 at 10:16 am
(8) Tricia says:

hi

I have had bot positive and negative responses. Friends who I had for years backed off at the first signs of an esposde. But for the brave and the loyal who have stood by me my respect soars. I have developed the ability to spot someone who is a stayer. However I wait in a work envieronment to prove myself so they can see first hand that I am not crazy as most people think Bipolars are.

February 15, 2008 at 11:48 am
(9) Lisa says:

I tell people almost immediately. I don’t mean that I just blurt it out, but when you meet someone and are getting to know them you typically talk about your interests, experiences, etc. In doing so, it kind of just comes up in conversation for me. “Nah I wasn’t asleep; been up since Wednesday morning….No I’m not tired…I have bipolar disorder, so sometimes I just don’t need much sleep.” Voila. BUT…I always offer my website to someone who is brave enough to return for more than a few conversations. That way, I’ve been up front about who I am, and they have the chance to make an educated decision about whether or not they wanna hang with me. The rest is up to them. :)

February 15, 2008 at 3:14 pm
(10) Tracey says:

My experiences have not, I’m afraid, been positive, although I believe you should tell certain people early on about yourself. I told the man I was dating after our second date and we continued to see each other until shortly after his transfer out of state. He was definitely the exception. My family, with whom I spend the majority of my time neither understand, nor care to. Those members of my extended family that have found out act like I’m either contagious or retarded. That’s why I started my blog. There’s still too much stigma attached to this condition.

February 15, 2008 at 6:38 pm
(11) Sharon says:

I have always been open about my bipolar. When I was first diagnosed, yes, people were shocked and didn’t know what to think. I look at it as an opportunity to educate people I come in contact with because by being so open they feel they can ask questions of me and I will give them information as to why not to fear us, think we are nuts, etc. It is my little part to punch a hole in the stigma of bipolar. I share my down experiences as well as my highs. Friends have been easy to work with. Family? Well, if they don’t want to be educated and want nothing to do with me because of bipolar then they can go their merry way. I don’t need the negativity. Most thank me for clearing up what they have heard bad about bipolar. And I am sick to death of seeing every nut on TV in shows that portray anyone who is evil or does something bad as bipolar. That one makes me hopping mad. Do the research people and don’t make comments unless you know what you are talking about. Just my two cents.

February 19, 2008 at 1:32 pm
(12) Maria says:

I give those of you who are up front with people about your being bipolar kudos. I have only told my husband, my older kids, parents and two very close friends. I don’t know why I’m so embarrassed. I will explain my lows and absences on a fibromyalgia flare-up.

People just don’t seem to understand mental illness. Many think we are all certifiable and if we “act” normal in front of them, then we must be faking.

Sorry for rambling on, but this is a very sensitive subject for me. I find it very helpful to read all of your experiences.

March 2, 2008 at 8:36 pm
(13) Jen says:

I’m doing research on this exact topic. I was diagnosed as BP in July; I am now dating this particular guy, going on 6 weeks now. This is the first relationship I’ve had since going on meds. I still don’t know, after reading these comments, if I should tell him NOW or continue to wait. We’re starting to switch from casually dating to something more serious. Part of me thinks it’s better to tell him now and be up front; part of me thinks he’ll take it better once we’ve been together longer, we’re more serious and he’s been able to see the real ME.

March 4, 2008 at 4:13 am
(14) Danielle says:

I have been in a relationship with a man for a few months now and he told me yesterday that he suffers from a bipolar disorder. I appreciated his honesty and reassured him that I will support and love him in every way I can. If he needed more time to tell me, I would have understood, it all just comes down to personal choice. It is nothing to be ashamed of and for those of you who have experienced negative reactions, I apologise for the ignorance of others. My relationship is new and exciting, so wish me luck beautiful people!

March 15, 2008 at 12:59 pm
(15) Iris says:

I tell people I will be friends with (real friends with) about my Bipolar and try to educate them. If they reject me, then I guess they were not meant to be my friends. It may hurt me to be rejected, but better get this out of the way at first, then be hurt more deeply later! I am not ashamed of being Bipolar Type II.

March 17, 2008 at 3:57 pm
(16) LaN says:

wow there are some really great comments here i have a problem also i cant tell my friends im bipolar what do i do? xxxx

May 26, 2008 at 12:03 am
(17) Irene says:

I have known for a few years know that I have Bipolar 1 disorder. Some that knew where supportive, but others appeared to not understand and thought I could just fix things myself and didn’t take it very seriously. I believe that it is good to be honest with people, yet have been very hurt at times by doing so. I really believe it depends on the type of person that you are considering disclosing this to and how you would feel if they reject you or treat you differently because of something you cannot help. Please don’t misunderstand what I ment because there are many kind and caring people in the world that would understand.

June 10, 2008 at 6:29 pm
(18) steve says:

My girlfriend of 3 years broke up with me because i think that i may be a trigger to her manic side.Her friends tell me that she pushes away people who get to close. I am willing to be their for her , i just hope she gives it a chance and stops running away from her illness.

June 12, 2008 at 12:49 pm
(19) Sarah says:

I have a few questions. I just started dating someone, he has told me from the beginning that he has BP. He told me it’s controlled and he never wants to be off his meds. Is there anything I should know about dating someone with BP? I’m just not educated enough about the topic and any help would be awesome. thanks so much.

July 12, 2008 at 6:05 am
(20) cherubx77 says:

I appreciate the comments people have made and think you are offering sound advice.

The rule I use is to never tell anyone about my bp unless it becomes absolutely necessary. The only people in my life who currently know about it are my wife, my family members, and two of my four best friends.

Maybe it’s selfish of me to be so secretive. It does not usually benefit me to share with people information about my mental illness; as a highly functional bipolar survivor, however, I may have a responsibility to the community to improve public understanding and acceptance.

September 2, 2008 at 4:08 pm
(21) michelle says:

I have been diagnosed with bi polar, I lost all of my friends because of it. Its so knarly how that just happens. I live in a small community, so alot of people know. I worrie day to day if Ill ever have friends again, if a guy would ever take a chance with me. Knowing me I would proboly share my past with a guy. And then again I wouldn’t because after you tell them, they will proboly treat you different. And let’s be real here, they dont know eaxactly how to treat a bipolar, they dont even know the right way to treat someone with bipolar, if there is a certain way. And they wouldn’t know because they did not create it. We dont really know how bipolar came about, so either do we haft to explain it.

October 11, 2008 at 1:39 am
(22) Lynn says:

I havent been diagnosed professionally with BP disorder but I have it. My family knows, but I cant admit to them that its real. For one I am extremely insecure about being labeled crazy. I dont know if people will accept me for who I am. I mean I am the same person, just with a labeled disorder. Shouldn’t they care no matter what? Second I dont want medication… Im scared of the side effects.
I dont know if anyone would want to be in a relationship with me knowing that I have this. I dont know what to do.

October 27, 2008 at 11:54 am
(23) David says:

If it’s any consolation, I think it’s probably more likely you won’t crash and burn in this scenario if you’re a woman; men don’t as a rule require women to be strong and stable, or at least it’s not usually a deal-breaker. I don’t mean to say that none of my fellow men will be freaked out by mental illness – just that the need for emotional stability and an ability to carry out the role of physical and emotional “protector” in a potential mate is not atavistically burned into our psyche. In fact there’s a reasonable prospect that you will trigger the “carer” and “protector” instinct in the man, if you don’t overdo it. Therefore if you are fortunate enough to be a member of the fairer sex, then there is hope. I would imagine that if you’re stable then there’s actually quite a lot of hope, so that should give you a good reason to manage yourself properly and not fall into the trap of being addicted to the highs.

Unfortunately for men like me, the situation is often almost intractable. The unspoken requirement for men to be the stable “provider” is so subconsciously deep-seated that it’s usually very difficult for any potential date/new partner to get past .

IMO it’s almost inevitable that spilling the beans in the first stages will lead to a metaphorical sharp exit from the obect of your affections. You could always wait until you think the girl you like is emotionally connected, but again, the fact that you are so far from the paradigm that evolution/societal norms has created for potential male partners, that there is still a high chance she will run for the hills. Of course, this doesn’t mean no-one will ever accept you, but you have to be prepared to take a truly stupendous amount of rejection, when even the normal ratio of rejection to success is tough for most men.

Personally, I’ve found this too high a price to pay. The regular crushing of one’s self-esteem is too much given that even if you strike lucky and get past first base, you’re still in the dating/new relationship minefield, only with a dirty great elephant in the room.

After all it’s not like being rejected because you don’t “click” with someone, or you aren’t their “type”, or “it’s not you, it’s me”. It IS you – and something fundamental about you to boot. The girl in question can appear to believe you’re the greatest thing ever, until you drop the bipolar hand-grenade into the mix; at which point the situation usually takes an abrupt volte-face.

Again, anything’s possible I suppose, but it’s a little like saying some people win a few hundred pounds on the lottery; if you try hard enough and buy enough tickets, then statistically you probably will win one of these prizes eventually, but if you ask me the cost-benefit analysis is pretty poor.

I’ve avoided relationships since my early thirties (I’m 44 now) even though I’m relatively stable. Most of my problems are situational; in other words the practical consequences of having been unstable years ago – i.e occasionally feeling low (but in the normal range) about poor career/financial and (somewhat ironically) romantic prospects.

You can’t really stop being attracted to someone every once in a while, but you can develop techniques to cut those feelings off at the pass. Of course I get lonely sometimes and frustrated when I meet someone I feel I could click with, if only it weren’t for this damned label, but to me, that is far preferable than the humiliating and painful alternative.

By the way I don’t mean to kick any men reading this while they’re down; after all this is only my experience and my solutions – we each have our own reality and your experience may well be different. It’s just something you might wish to bear in mind, that’s all.

November 2, 2008 at 10:55 am
(24) Carla says:

I have read the above posts and am appreciative of all the views people have shared. I was diagnosed with BP in January 2007. The doc didn’t give it a I or II, but at the time, I’ll say I was a I, but have since learned some controlling ways and consider myself to now be in the II category. I know, the category doesn’t just change by itself but knowing when/what contributes to an episode is half the battle.

As far as sharing the illness with others, my Mother knows and doesn’t understand, believe, nor accept it. I have shared the news with friends and relatives, but not with my boyfriend of the last two years. No, I don’t know why except for the possibility of being scared he’ll leave. I did tell his sister so that I didn’t feel like I didn’t tell his side of the family. My boyfriend has an optimistic view of life and insists on a happy day every day. I just can’t do it. I have tried. Sometimes I’m good for a few hours. I’m more of a pessimist and realist and we definitely bump heads. I really would like to be like him and “roll with it” I just don’t know how.

With the economy going (gone) I have had many down times. I lost my house and job and had to move back to my Mother’s in a different state. Up days/times are rare. I will eventually adjust to this.

November 10, 2008 at 12:20 am
(25) James says:

I was diagnosed with BPD, type II about 2 years ago. I’m also HIV+. I just started round 2 of dating a wonderful guy that has come back to me after finally realizing he’s OK with my HIV status. It took him some time to accept that diagnosis.

Now that we’re getting serious, I have to tell him about this, and I don’t know when to do this. Sucks having two diagnoses with terrible stigmas. He is just learning more about my health status (stable) and has been really good. The BPD is very stable because I don’t miss my meds and I see my therapist regularly.

Anyone with ideas?

November 11, 2008 at 4:50 pm
(26) Renee says:

Wow I didn’t realize so many of us BP sufferers worry about telling others about our illness. Wow everyone had a comment that was really sincere. I just wish I had learned to blog a long time ago. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Manic Depression in 1999 and I thought this is a rotten joke. My whole entire family found out with one terrible badass episode that came right after a hard break up. I mean everyone found out my mom, dad, sisters, brothers my entire immediate family found out in one night. My life did a 180 at that time and I had to rebuild everything. Especially my credibility cause most people did not understand that mental illness was an illness. It is a legitimate illness not a stigma. In my family alone three of us are BP. And after my diagnosis I was determined to mask my illness as much as possible. To this day I have never been inclined to tell anyone about my illness. I am very uncomfortable with the subject. I just do not like the comments I receive when I mention BP. I realize that most people have some level of understanding but I have weighed the pros and cons and I see the risks involved with telling people about BP and my silence has become acceptable. It just seems easier to swallow. I made up my mind not to tell anyone else until I know they can handle it mentally and emotionally. I was dating this guy for a few weeks and he asked me if I suffered from depression and mood swings. I said no absolutely not cause I thought he was looking for a reason to jet. I told him I am a wonderful woman and he needed to know more about me before he I mentioned my illness. i didn’t want him to make a rash decision. I began to tell him all the wonderful qualities about myself so that he could see me and not the illness. I did it for him and I did it for me because I felt I should have a fighting chance with this guy because I liked him so much. We have lasted two years and I only recently revealed to him that I suffered from Bipolar Manic Depression this year. I had to manage a health problem that came up and I told him about my ilness. He was supportive, attentive, concerned and he saw me as the woman who loved him. And it felt good to reveal it to him at that point. Thankfully I found out he was a stayer. A stayer is someone who has made a decision to stay in your life. And over the years I have found out how if someone really loves you they can’t stay out of your life because something draws them to you. So to me it is important to find out if they can handle your illness befoe you mention it. I needed to be sure that others saw me as a woman with out the deprssion first.

May 2, 2011 at 3:53 pm
(27) fb says:

thank you. :)

May 14, 2011 at 10:03 am
(28) kittypale says:

Renee – thank you. I feel comforted by your account – I agree with all that you’ve said and will follow suit in my current situation….

December 7, 2008 at 10:33 pm
(29) Melinda says:

I found this blog site tonight, and I am so grateful to all of you, because I don’t feel so alone. I told my husband of three years last month about Bipolar illness. The funny thing is that I haven’t been officially diagnosed with it. My mother and I have made the connection recently, due to the fact we discuss my depression.
Currently, I am seeing a therapist for recurrent severe depressive disorder (I just “quit” going to work – a job I had loved for four years). I have been almost completely housebound /agoraphobic for months now.
Housebound except for the Vegas trip in October. Out of the blue, I talk my husband into a trip to Las Vegas. I am “up up up” prior to the trip (but still housebound with severe depression while being “up up up”) – Excited and depressed at the same time. Housebound but able to board that plane to Vegas.
As soon as we get home, I am rock bottom depressed again. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
So after Vegas, and after my conversations with my mother, I told my husband to keep an eye on me to see if he thinks I have mania/hypomania after explaining it all to him. Well, yesterday I had an episode that was very obvious to us both (I don’t do anything dangerous, but I clean for 10 hours straight, talk his ear off, and I can’t sleep hardly at all). I am Bipolar, but I can’t handle the diagnosis, nor can I handle the meds. I am not sure what I will do, but my husband and my mother are very loving and supportive. I haven’t told anyone else. They would neither one abandon me over this.

March 24, 2009 at 1:16 am
(30) Catryna says:

Thanks so much for this blog and everyone who took the time to comment. This has been a really difficult issue for me since my first psychotic episode and subsequent diagnosis in 2003. I had never told anyone “new” in my life about my disease until recently. In the first case the person asked questions, and I was very open and tried to answer their questions the best I could. We stayed in touch for about a month after that, but this person has since vanished from my life, I’m still unsure if my decision to be honest and open was the exact cause. The second person is someone I am casually dating and getting to know. He kind of brushed it off as if it is nothing (ie “I have ups and downs, I think maybe I have bipolar”) and I let it go for a while, but it came up again and I was honest and told him that in the past I have actually lost touch with reality. At this point I don’t think I am going to give any more details unless things get serious. It really is a difficult thing to deal with because having bipolar is such a big part of my past, and who I am today. Good luck to everyone trying to handle this issue as well.

November 29, 2009 at 3:58 pm
(31) Sarah says:

Hmmmmmm…well, for those of us affected by the disorder (and like cancer,etc…those involved with the person ARE affected and DEEPLY affected)…tell. 1st date, 1st week…doesn’t matter, BUT…people loving you deserve to know. There is a fair amount of lying/secret behavior that comes from the disorder…SO…I would assume a compliant, well intentioned person with Bi-polar Disorder would go to that much more effort to be honest upfront. I do not judge those with the disorder, but lived with a man for 8 years with it and it is a LOT to sign up for.

December 1, 2009 at 12:09 am
(32) Vera says:

I wish my boyfriend would be honest and upfront and tell me. I already know. I don’t want to confront him, but the fact of the matter is, I looked up all the meds he is on, and added with the episode he had this weekend … where he actually fell out and started crying uncontrollably … as well as once when he was showing me an email he had gotten, there was a bunch of emails from some site with the subject dealing with Bipolar and depression. We have dated for 8 months …. and has basically spent everyday together, but it was the first time I had ever seen such behavior from him … it scared me to death. I had to call his dad and brother, cause he was talking and acting so randomly. I love him, I do, but I am sad that he doesn’t trust me enough with his secret. What do I do?

December 11, 2009 at 4:45 pm
(33) Michelle says:

I’m so sorry Vera. My brother has bipolar and he feels very protective of his wife. He wants to be a good provider. He’s told me he feels ashamed that he can’t be everything he feels he owes to her. Even after being hospitalized he convinced himself and talked his wife out of believing what the doctors said his having bipolar.

I have bipolar too. Nobody wants to have this illness or admit to themselves they have it because that means that they’re lives have to change. So sometimes we pretend to ourselves that we’re ok. It sounds as if he’s been trying to act like everything’s “ok” with you.

I think you can and should bring it up soon. But you don’t have to think of it as confronting him. I would more assure him that you know he’s on a tough path and that you want to be there with him. You can also assure him that you are proud of how far he’s come in his life and held your relationship together for so long.

Try and forgive this particular trust issue. It sounds like you have a good relationship.

January 10, 2010 at 7:27 pm
(34) Kelley says:

Hi everyone,
Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I recently suffered a break up with my boyfriend because he accidently found out I suffer from BP. I was burning a DVD of my final choreographic project and, in the talk back, I had discussed that my dance piece had stemmed from my battle with BP. I had completely forgotten about the question and had went to take the dog for a walk. When I came back, his car was gone and he left me a note saying he couldn’t be with me because I’m clearly insane.

Last week, after several setback episodes after the break up, I met this guy and we really clicked. I’m terrified that if I tell him he’ll jet like my ex. But, after reading all of these posts, I don’t feel quite so isolated and have decided to tell him sort of early on. I’d rather him leave now then later, when/if we get into something more serious.

So, thanks so much for this blog. I feel much better after reading it.

March 31, 2010 at 11:40 pm
(35) Monica says:

Hey,

I haven’t told anyone that I have bipolar. I’m not even all completely sure but I have all the symptoms of it. I also am only 12 years old. Life is difficult and sometimes I feel I want to die. I admire you for telling this guy your medical problems. It’s difficult, I know. And it’s difficult to deal with

May 31, 2010 at 9:50 am
(36) Esther says:

To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive – to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment, and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before.” — Rollo May

May 31, 2010 at 10:02 am
(37) Esther says:

I would never publically leave information about myself on such a website but after reading all of these entries I feel inspired. I have Bipolar 2 and most days I tell myself that I don’t. Though I take medication, have suffered depression and manic episodes and I feel mostly in control whilst on medication. I hate the label because I feel it sets me apart, that people will see me as ‘different’ and unlike physical conditions, I feel like I will be judged or deemed weak or flawed.
I only recently started went out with someone a couple of times and I mentioned that I took medication for Bipolar. The guy sounded shocked, confused and sad. I actually felt sorry for him and I sensed his first instinct was to run. I will say this though, those of us who have suffered with this condition have overcome demons, battled the worst days, the uncertainty of not knowing whether things are the way they are, or if they just seem that way because of how we ‘FEEL’ and we get up in the end and we are stronger than the average bear. Any person you may be seeing, dating, or in love with should know this. If this person looses interest then they are a cowardly individual or their feelings for you were not profound to actually sustain a relationship or anything truly meaningful. I would never want this for myself, so I such to keep things in perspective anyone met with negative responses to having Bipolar should ask themselves ‘Do you want to be with someone like this?’. The best you can do is try to make a person understand and if not move on, there is someone out there who will accept you for who you are regardless and that is what we are worthy of, say it, even if you do not believe it. Ultimately I believe be it the love of family, friend, spouse, whomever it needs to be as described in the following quote.

“To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive – to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment, and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before.” — Rollo May

June 1, 2010 at 4:58 am
(38) Lost.Cause says:

I used to be quite open about my disorder. As I noticed negative reactions and especially when it got so much bad publicity, I became more reluctant to reveal my condition. However, there are times when revealing is needed to help others understand when my behavior goes off in either direction. I also find myself revealing bipolar to relatively new friends simply because it seems to fit the conversation/situation.

August 18, 2011 at 6:14 am
(39) Fredricka says:

Please do feel like a lost cause. Hold your head up high. This illness bipolar does not define us. We have many good attributes. Please remember that

August 18, 2011 at 6:47 am
(40) Fredricka says:

I apologize I meant do not feel like a lost cause.

June 1, 2010 at 6:54 am
(41) VickiS says:

I also have ADD. Because it affects my daily life and relationships, I usually tell people about it. From there it’s often a natural segway into a BiPolar discussion. Frequently people will then reveal that they or family or friends also have a mental illness. When someone says, “You don’t seem depressed,” I usually say, “Well, my medication must be working!”

The people I avoid telling are my co-workers and clients – I am a psychotherapist. I receive the most negativity and alarm from other therapists! Go figure. I always emphasize that I am responsibly treating my illness with medication and on-going therapy. I refrain from self-disclosure with clients. I share a great deal of knowledge and empathy with my clients which keeps them coming back for treatment.

June 1, 2010 at 2:01 pm
(42) Jo says:

Interesting comments—
I think you have to look at the person you would share with.
I have about 5 close friends that I told. I have 4 co-workers (only becasue if something should happen) and one of 3 siblings. I have not told my father, nor will I.
Reasons…some can understand. I know that at first I really had no clue what bipolar was. Certainly, not how “dangerous?” it was. I knew I had depression but the mania part I never understood.
I am a teacher and often hear students randomly say the word “bipolar”….they have no clue. It’s almost like a joke. Adults think it’s something else…like skitzophenia and they have no clue. I have to make the choice if I want to educate them or not. Is it worth it.
As for a possible “relationship”. I am not sure. I know that I will not let it go on past 5 dates perhaps. You have to figure out where the relationship is going before you blirt it out. a funny one…we.. not so funny…I met someone on match.com. I told my therapist…she got very angry and told me I had no right to be dating (I had just gotten out of the hospital). I ran and told the match.com person and everything (even a possible friendship) fell apart. I had another match.com person this past winter and we never got far enough along in the relationship to tell.
Do what you gotta do.

June 1, 2010 at 4:40 pm
(43) Jan says:

I wasn’t diagnosed until my early 40′s by then I had gone through 2 rough marriages and was into my third which was becoming ciaotic like the rest. This husband has seen it all and rode the beast with me. I very seldom tell people that I have BiPolar, not because I am fearful of what they will think but I believe its on a “need to know” basis. If they dont need to know then why tell them? I am what I am, as they see me. Most of us have a cross to carry – what makes mine any worse than any of theirs? I chose who I tell (1 close friend and some of my children) – and just get on with life..now that the “black dog” is off my back!!!

June 1, 2010 at 8:24 pm
(44) jenny says:

I fell madly inlove with a guy who had BP. He blew hot and cold and i felt so very hurt and rejected when he was low. He would go from being mr wonderful to totally blanking me out of his life.he did not explain. His mother told me after 8 months. it all suddenly made sence. I suffered much pain and our relationship didnt survive because he just couldnt let me in. I would have done anything he needed me to do. give him space , be there. I think he was very crewl not to tell me why things were not consistant. we could have been a wonderful and happy cuple. Tell your new love whats going on.

June 2, 2010 at 1:08 am
(45) Stacie says:

Only my doctors, brother, hubby and my two teen sons know. Some family knows I have been treated for depression, I was treated for that for many years before my diagnosis of BP. There was plenty of stigma attached to that and I didn’t tell many people. One lady at church told me my depression was caused by unrepented sin.

My family has had the “opportunity” to know or know of people with BP. They talk in whispers, say things like “psycho” and “crazy” and “nut job” about those people. They say worse when the person isn’t around.

There is no way on Earth I’m gonna tell them so they can do the same to me. I have my extreme depressions and they expect that at least. When I’m manic, they just think I’m being energetic, funny and “crazy” (in a ‘good’ way).

Sorry for the ramble, just wanted to share my reasons for NOT sharing.

June 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm
(46) Rachel, Collector of Stories for new book on bp says:

A few weeks ago I met a man and while sharing what we do for a living, I told him about editing an upcoming book, “Being Bipolar: Stories from Those Living with the Disorder and Those Who Love them.” He was interested (people often are when you tell them you are an editor and a publisher). Later in our conversation I told him why I was working on this book – I am bipolar and was diagnosed in 1978. “I realize I’ve had 32 years to learn about my dis-order and this could seem a startling truth for you to face. I am open to talking about it and answering any questions.” Silence. In a soft, calm and strong voice – with a Texan accent – he said, “Bring it.” His reaction was positive and his acceptance real. It took me by surprise and I am grateful.
If anyone is interested in contributing to the book (to be published in June 2011), email editor-beingbipolar@charter.net for more information. We seek your stories! Thanks.

June 4, 2010 at 11:05 am
(47) Kathy says:

My disclosing my being biplar has been mostly positive with close friends and my kids. My issue is with the medical profession-they tend to treat me as I am to be in a mental institution regardless of what I am being treated for. In the past I had a TIA and was admitted to the hospital for that reason for tests. I had to tell them I was on Lithium and that caused the doctor to place a very neon orange sticker on the front of my chart with the word BIPOLAR on it. I spoke with the doctor when he came in and let him know that my TIA WAS NOT connected with the immediate problem and I felt that he was creating the negative way I was being treated by the nursing staff. He apologized and promtly removed the sticker. This is NOT the first time I have been bipolar first and foremost, then the actual diagnosed problem. It has delayed the treatment for what is really wrong with me. Now I am not on an everyday med. for the bipolar and do not tell the medical professionals that I have it. It lets me be treated fairly and with total consideration for the problem and not treated like a psycho. What a shame.

June 4, 2010 at 11:27 am
(48) William Fann says:

I have been a recovered alcoholic for 34 years. In that time, and through the lengthy recovery process, I have come to realize 90% of what people think about me is none of my business. Second, I have come to be secure in who I am through the process of recovery so that if people reject me (my life’s nemesis), I am able to live with that rejection with very little despair.

I have had 15 years, on and off, of therapy for childhood sexual abuse. During that time, and during a conversation with a co-worker, I revealed to the co-worker that particular history. Directly afterwards, I was filled with profound shame and the fear of rejection from that individual.

When I explained the incident with my co-worker, and my reaction to my therapist, he asked: “Why would you feel that way; having been sexually abused is who you are.”

I was stunned by his remark yet over a short period of time following his remark, I began to realize that what he stated was true and acceptance of who I am in all the negative life experiences, as well as the positive, became the primary path, for me, to healing and peace.

Underlying the fear of rejection from others is the rejection I had of myself. Living a life rejecting a part of me that experienced the child abuse was literally self rejection and fragmentation of my being. Acceptance of who I am as a sexually abused child became the best way to heal from the abuse by integrating my personality and becoming a whole person.

With that process, I finally have peace over the sexual abuse and sharing my experience of sexual abuse with others, when the subject naturally arises in conversations with others, does not leave me in a state of emotional disarray.

Last, sharing the sexual abuse with others also became a pathway to healing. Being able to share those experiences reduced the burden I carried and brought even more peace when I realized the majority of people that truly cared for me did not reject me.

When I was diagnosed with Atypical Bipolar mood disorder (stunned again), applying what I had learned through recovery from alcoholism and sexual abuse therapy had already prepared me for dealing with this mental disease. While I can never be sure who has given my illness credibility or not, none have treated me any differently once I informed them of the illness.

If some did not give my illness credibility or thought I was an idiot, that is the 90% of what others think about me that is none of my business.

William

July 14, 2010 at 4:59 pm
(49) Brianna says:

I’m so thankful to have stumbled upon this site. All of your posts have started to bring up my confidence.
I’m 23 and have been going through a lot lately, I’m recently engaged to the man I’ve been with for the last 2 years. We’re very happy and I love him so much. Since he moved in and we got engaged I’ve gone through periods where I felt like I wasn’t myself. I was acting out and making poor behavioral decisions and actually had a huge fight and a near falling out with one of my closest friends over it. I had actually mentioned to her before about wanting to talk to a therapist about my lack of self control.
Just recently my anxiety has begun to spin higher than I’m comfortable and I’ve been talking to my mom about it. While doing some research on anxiety disorders links for bi-polar disorder came up to. Out of curiosity I looked into it and realized that a lot of it applied to me, I had just never thought to consider it an option. So I called my mom back and we discussed the potential of me having it. I don’t have any relatives who have been diagnosed with it, however we do have a history of depression, which I have been previously diagnosed with, and combined with some of the aforementioned symptoms of mania/hypomania (the lashing out, and inappropriate behavior) we’ve decided it’s very likely. So I’ve started keeping a journal and reflecting on my past lash outs and bouts of over confidence, and poor decisions/judgements.
We are looking into getting a professional opinion, however I’m in the process of switching my primary care physician and it could take a while to get things settled. Sorry for the ramble… the point of this post being, I think I have BPD and I know it’s going to be a lot for me to handle, and for my Fiance. Our wedding is in 6 weeks. I know it can take a while for an official diagnosis of BP as it requires time to observe for phases. I’m wondering if I should tell him about the potential for me having BPD or wait for a diagnosis. He’s not big into the understanding of mental illness or therapy, or medication, but I’m afraid if I wait for the diagnosis he could feel tricked or trapped into something that’s more to take on than he expected. I guess I want to make sure he knows what he’s signing up for in the fullest extent before he makes that oath. I want to give him the opportunity to say no if he thinks it’s too much for him. But I’m afraid of the damage it may do if that’s not the diagnosis I get. I really don’t know what to do. Tell him there’s potential? Or wait for a diagnosis that won’t come till after we’re married? Any thoughts or suggestion are greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!

September 4, 2010 at 2:23 am
(50) robbi says:

I have bipolar disorder and I don’t tell anyone that don’t need to know. I feel it’s none of thier business. I don’t even tell people at work. As long as my illness is in check, no body has the right to know. When I meet people, I won’t tell them. If they become someone special, I will tell them when they need to know. Like if I were close to a significant other, I would feel I have to tell him, he would have the right to know what he is getting into. I would have to trust that he will be with me no matter what. But, I don’t think everyone needs to know about something like that. I tell only on a need to know basis. I was also sexually abused. I am not ashamed to tell anyone that. But bipolar disorder has such a stigma to it that to tell a whole lot of people will give them reason to stay away from you. I have had some bad experiences with that.

May 24, 2011 at 10:57 am
(51) Mercedes says:

To be honest-nobody really has to know you are bipolar except for immediate family members and maybe a special someone that comes into your life. I think the idea is to have your bipolar disorder under control as much as possible. Keep track of your moods and how you are feeling. If you are feeling off-address it asap. Bipolar does have a stigma that comes along with it. People are often ignorant about the illness, and they don’t really understand it. They automatically label you as “crazy” or “nuts”. But the beautiful thing is that more and more people are coming out of the closet about their bipolar disorder. Catherine Zeta Jones for example was very brave to come out about having bipolar disorder. She proved to the world that anybody can have it even if you are rich, beautiful and successful. I think as time goes by people will be more open minded about the illness. Bipolar disorder won’t be so taboo.

August 18, 2011 at 6:45 am
(52) Freddae says:

To all my fellow bloggers. I was diagnosed in december 2008 with Bipolar. It is funny because although it was hard to accept it was actually a relief. And almost three years later I am coming to grips with it. I am as we speak experiencing a manic episode. I woke up after sleeping two hours at 4 something this morning with racing thoughts. I am coming to the point that I am very confident in who I am. It does not matter about what other people say. People in Jesus day called him crazy. He knew who he was though and was aware that he had his Father’s approval. There were and are many great people who were and are afflicted by this illness. To my fellow bloggers I say keep your head up. And know that because you experience the symptoms of this disease that you are not a bad person. I look forward to the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 33:24 ” Noone will say I am sick” Keep on loving yourself because their are many reasons for you to do so. And remember that your disease doesn’t have anything to do with your IQ. There is a song I am unsure of the artist. It talks about The climb. It also say something about there will always be an uphill battle. Don’t give up my friends. There is hope for us.

November 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm
(53) S says:

I NEVER tell people I work with about my disorder. There is no such thing as a secret in an office place, and many people are woefully uneducated about mental illness. When evaluating for a promotion or a new position one of the woefully misinformed may see me as unstable, unable to perform my duties, or even a risk or a danger (even though I may be the most qualified and despite an excellent track record).

My immediate family and closest friends know but they also know me. Sometimes I’m just not up for much but they see this is akin to staying in bed with chicken soup when you have the flu.

The only way I have addressed the issue in my current relationship is to tell him I suffer from depression (admittedly, a half-truth at best). My hope is that once our relationship has progressed he will see the issue for what it is and still see me for who I am but I dread the rejection.

January 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm
(54) Susan says:

Mental illness runs rampant in my family. Straight-up depression as well as bi-polar has affected several generations(the ones I know about) and I suspect goes back further but there was more of a stigma back then. I remember my great-grandma telling me about her mother having “spells” where she had to lie down for long periods of time and the next thing you now she was a “whirl-wind” of activity and “got so much done”…..
It angers me that there IS a stigma to mental illness. No one would tell a cancer patient to “buck up and deal with it” or “get over it” and yet the chemistry of the brain is somehow looked at as being something a person should be able to “control” on their own.
I -and other family members usually tell people we are unstable, but don’t believe ourselves to be as unstable as those who live in denial of their issues rather than confronting them head on.

April 12, 2012 at 6:50 pm
(55) isha says:

i am 16 years old n i just found out i have sings of bipolar an i am at risk of getin worst if i dnt get help

August 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm
(56) Broken Heart says:

I have been dating with my boy friend for 2 years, and he asked my dad to marriage him. After I told him my mom has bipolar, he is ok with it not until his dad say, “NO”.

December 15, 2012 at 11:59 am
(57) F says:

I’m responding to James comment. I’m also HIV positive (undetectable) and Bipolar I. I’ve been contemplating the same emotions that you’re experiencing. I recently went on a date with a fantastic guy and seeing him for a second date today. I’ve been doing research on how to drop not just one bomb but two. I’ve considered doing this at two different times so I don’t overwhelm him with too much information. This guy is certainly a rare gem and I wish for the best, as a friend told me “if he can’t deal with it, it doesn’t mean you’re bad – it’s just a bad match”. I think I’m going to just enjoy getting to know him for another date or two more before dropping the first bomb and seeing how he reacts. I believe in this situation it’s important to consider how you approach the situation.

(1) Tell the person you have something important to share and you thought it’s only fair to talk about it now before things go any further.

(2) Don’t express fear about the disease. Only give them the facts and try not to ramble on about it (something many of us BPs like to do).

(3) Give the other person space after sharing the information. Like us, they will need time to digest the information. I’d wait 3 days and then call to tell them I’m interested in seeing them again. See what happens.

This is an incredibly difficult thing for man of us and I wish all of you the best of luck. Thanks for the wonderful perspectives and stories. This post has helped me a lot.

January 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm
(58) Lady36 says:

I’m bipolar and suffer from depression and anxiety, honestly I get in barest of my condition so I don’t talk about it to no one only 3 people i told because they been there for me, Im a single mom And im working, ever since i started this job i try to hide my condition but couldnt control it, i struggle every day to act normal and pray i have a good day at work, but is affecting my job cause I notice people talking about me cause of my behavior, I know they think I’m weired, and I’m in barest, sometimes I wish I can just open up and let them know so they can understand, but is hard lately I been wanting to leave the job but as a single mom I know I can’t do that I’m very uncomfortable wen I walk in to my job cause already people staring at me it hurts me cause I’m not looking for problems I just want to work and make my money, I just wish I have a solution to this problem, I need my job and I like wat I do for a living

March 25, 2013 at 12:45 pm
(59) suddenly_18 says:

i was diagnosed of a bipolar in March 2012…only taking 2.5mg olanzipine now for sleeping since December. the doctor allowed me to stop my other medications since I am doing well and no more episodes. I have a nice job working as I.T./Programmer..I met this guy and we have seen each other 3 times. Last night I told him thru text that I have this sickness and he said he will be there for me and don’t think too much.. I don’t know if he’s sincere but I figured I have to tell him earlier before my feelings get deeper into him. I was relieved but at the same time, i still doubt him and preparing myself if he will not see me anymore in the future..i’m praying that he will stay coz I feel safe with him…so for people who are scared of telling about your sickness, don’t be afraid of rejections.. it’s better to know earlier than later… good luck to all! and may God heal us all!!

August 12, 2013 at 11:24 pm
(60) Sir Botomsly Wadsworth III says:

I read all the comments in this thread with interest. I am recently on the dating scene and was trying to decide the ‘when to tell’. My takeaway is ‘when it’s right’, which is what I thought in the first place.

I’ve been dealing with this shit for thirty years and my advice is: switch docs until you get a good one, take your meds, subtly let people know they should mind their own fucking business. People with problems tend to think theirs are the worst but really we all got problems, tend your garden.

t

November 8, 2013 at 7:05 am
(61) Melissa says:

Sometimes you stumble across something incredible and real and unexpected. For me, the comments here were that. I have BP1 and have been managing it for 5 years, with two major manic and depressive cycles. However, I don’t feel like that is the core of me, it’s just another fragment of the colorful tapestry of me. But I do struggle with acceptance, and like many here, the fear of rejection from people you tell (especially lovers!). In a way I think this has scared me off from dating. I suppose there really are no hard and fast rules about who to tell and when. But I do think it is a privilege and not a right for people in your life to know. Don’t feel obliged to tell acquaintances or coworkers that you’re not close to. But on the other side, when I told my ex boyfriend that I had bipolar (a few months in) he just said “I love you exactly as you are”. Perfect, right? What was I worrying about!? Likewise, the friends that I’ve told have been beautiful and it hasn’t changed the way they view me at all, but has made our bond stronger. However a couple of people that I told that weren’t in my inner circle did back away from me. And that does really, really hurt. So I think it’s wise to choose to tell people that you really trust and think deserves your closeness.
Thank you to every single person for your comments here- you are all beautiful and for the first time made me kind of proud to be BP.

December 19, 2013 at 6:21 pm
(62) Thomas Cullings says:

I used to see a 62 year old never married woman that admitted she saw a psychiatrist. It was mentioned that this was a secret and that I would never know. I am a retired pharmacist, so I ALREADY knew a fair amount psych drugs. She was taking Generic Seroquel 300 mg. 1-2 daily among many other things so I was suspicious. She was not that well organized, so she gave me a box of papers to organize and/or destroy. The box was easy to sort through. The basket of old faxes that I was also asked to do the same with was shocking. She was diagnosed with bipolar at the age of 59 after she had been terminated from a job. When I asked her about it a few weeks later it was admitted. At the time I was engaged to her. I am a wine collector and I noticed substantial drinking, in the neighborhood of 3 to 4 glasses daily. I am glad I accidentally got wind of it and I am glad that we no longer see each other. Even modest drinking with bipolar disorder is a huge NO NO. How it finally ended was probably for the best. TOM

April 15, 2014 at 12:13 pm
(63) Sophia says:

Hello! I’m 17 and dating a guy that is also 17. He’s very tolerant and patient with people and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He’s very mature for his age too. I was diagnosed with BPD when I was born. I started to take meds when I was about 7. I’ve been through MUCH success in the past year. Electocompulsive therapy helps my BPD mostly. I recently started dating him but don’t know how long I should wait. I assume it would be good to wait for at least 4 months, even if we fall in love even more before then. Idk what to do. How long should you wait to tell your boyfriend? If we truly fall in love before 4 months, should I tell him? I’m so struggled. :(

April 30, 2014 at 9:58 am
(64) Ken says:

All these comments or thoughts, many born from painful experience, (though have not read all ) interesting or unique to me… I have not read all…but from my own personal experience…I can relate…and appreciate…the comments made by Jen…lovely..or if you are
familiar with the TV show “House” .. ’13′…

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