“Just be yourself,’ they say... “Never give up,” they say... “You never know until you try,” they say... But mainstream platitudes don’t always apply—especially for those of us with bipolar. Here are the problems I see with well-known, well-meaning words of wisdom. (And some bipolar-friendly alternatives!)

Exceptions to the Rules ::

Whether it has caused financial trouble, broken relationships, or just fifty shades of red on our faces, I think it’s safe to say that all of us with bipolar have had our periods of poor judgment. And although we certainly can’t blame every wrong move we’ve made on the disorder, with bipolar it’s easy to go beyond the occasional misdirected flight-of-fancy and jump right into “bipolar-bad-decision mode.”

Avoiding Bad Decisions in Gray Areas ::

There I was, in the bakery on a lovely Saturday morning, perusing the case of freshly made donuts and the hilarious names that they had been given. I saw one called “Cereal Killer,” which is a donut topped with cereal; one called “Glazed and Confused,” which is a simple glazed donut; and then I saw one called—you guessed it—“The Bipolar.”

The Bipolar Donut ::

I found a new layer of meaning in the old “life’s a journey, not a destination” adage. I realized that mood tracking can be done in many different ways, and they’re allinsightful—but none are all-encompassing. At each stage, I learned just a little. And when I add up all those little lessons, I have a much better map of my specific pattern of mood ebb and flow.

Make Your Own Keys ::

After I received my bipolar diagnosis, I spent a lot of time on a hamster wheel of anxiety, dread, confusion, sadness, guilt, paranoia, anger, and isolation (forgive me if I left anyone out!). I spent a lot of time telling myself, As soon as I get this bipolar stuff under control, THEN I’ll get back to my life.

Well, that turned into . . . YEARS.

Stuck in Bipolar Purgatory ::

A diagnosis of bipolar disorder is a tough pill to swallow. From pharmaceutical decisions to disclosure decisions, it can become a crippling time of anxiety, frustration, and upheaval. That feeling of brokenness can be hard to shake, but remembering that there’s a giant spectrum of mental illness—and that you’re in crowded company—can help. There are many great things to embrace about having bipolar.

Welcome to the Family ::

Dear [your name here],

There will be episodes in your life when you won’t have access to your own sound judgment. Unfortunately, you won’t even be aware when these episodes occur.

Oh, and it’s been this way for quite a while—you just didn’t know it.

Forever yours,

Bipolar Disorder    

Welcome to the Family, Part 2 

...You’ve Got Mail ::

There are a handful of movies that aim to demonstrate the experience of having bipolar disorder. To be honest, I have yet to identify strongly with any of those movies or characters. With that said, there are definitely times when, for me, Hollywood hits the nail on the head—just by accident.

My Bipolar Life on the Big Screen ::


One way that I try to give back to the bipolar community is by writing for BPHope.com.

Below are excerpts from a few of my favorites.