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10 Things I Learned from My Bipolar Friends

Updated on October 7, 2009

We're all in this together

  1. Roll with life’s natural rhythms. People with manic depression are just like everyone else, only more so. Balance, harmony and regularity go a long way toward keeping on track. Sleep at night, eat at mealtimes, choose good food, be responsible for yourself, “Do unto others…,” and try not to stress when things don’t go your way. All basic stuff. You don't have to be bipolar for it to help.
  2. It can happen to anyone. Most things can happen to just about anybody. You might as well get used to putting yourself in the other guy’s shoes, because you or someone you know could wind up wearing them some day. 
  3.  An extreme will level out sooner or later, so relax. Just as in nature, situations can get pretty intense, but nothing lasts forever. If things get unsettled take charge as best you can, but don’t stress. Sometimes tidal waves just have to be what they are.
  4. Almost everyone has something odd going on. Who gets to define “normal,” anyway? If you’re dealing with an issue, chances are others around you have something funky in their life as well. Dealing with challenges, growing, and moving on is the nature of life.
  5. We can’t control everything. Nope. Try as we might, we do not always get to decide what goes on in our own bodies, more the less in others. Besides, it’s not always a good idea to try. We might put out a fire that will some day keep us warm.
  6. Live in the moment. If it’s bad, it won’t last forever. If it’s good, it won’t last forever. Experience who you are, where you are, at the time and place that you are. The past no longer exists; the future has yet to come.
  7. Depression doesn’t always bring tears. When the left and right sides of the brain are not connecting the way they should – or perhaps not at all – the world can look interesting, to say the least. Seeing life through an oddly cut lens can make a person happy, irritable, angry or sad. The emotions that follow may be appropriate, given the view.
  8. When people are insensitive, they just might miss a lot. The bipolar condition can involve some pretty intense extremes. This heightened sensitivity, however, is not necessarily bad. People without it can miss some pretty cool stuff.
  9. Most people underuse their minds. Ever been around someone with a bipolar condition who is really engaged? I have. Bipolars can come up with some creative and amazing stuff. The world has been improved by many of these contributions; there are undoubtedly more to come. It seems some respect, admiration and gratitude might be due.
  10. It's all about chemistry. Anyone’s chemistry can change with emotions, stress, hormones or a blow to the head. We’re all more alike than we know.


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    • aliceleftinwonder profile image

      aliceleftinwonder 5 years ago from Somewhere along I-5

      I couldn't choose one, so I chose them all! Love, love, love, this hub!

      Unfortunately, you, and the other commentators are right. Those who have not lived with or been through (I hate the term "suffered") mental illness just DON'T get it.

      Your list, and the list added by Linda, would be a great place to start the process of understanding for those in the life of someone with bipolar.

      Thank you for sharing your particular incite.

    • agaglia profile image

      agaglia 5 years ago

      I've found that depression is eased by medication - replacing serotonin is a helpful thing to do. (natural suppliments) Also, Marianne, you offer interesting perception. Sometimes I think that people with depression (and perhaps other mental illnesses) have an ability to think more deeply, or perhaps more intensely about things. I love having those discussions that looks at all sides of an issue; one that provides a variety of lenses to look at the issue through and one where there isn't one right answer - perhaps no answer.

    • profile image

      Marianne 8 years ago

      i totally agree with being bipolar and engaged. i'm a teenager and i have never understood really any other teens in that they don't "think."

      i get so deep into subjects constantly, but i notice other people [often even most adults] haven't ever given so many things a lick of thought.

      i like the fact, that i see deep into so many things and look at things in "so" many different ways, but i hate the fact that i don't have hardly any people that i can talk about things with because they just don't get it. so i feel lonely a lot cause of that. i feel like people won't understand, and they usually never do.

    • Eleven13 profile image

      Eleven13 8 years ago

      Wonderful additions. Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      Linda Kern 8 years ago

      My husband is my best friend and also bipolar. From him I have learned a lot about the illness.

      1.Be a friend to those who have it.

      2.Be patient.

      3.Be supportive.

      4.It is a chemical disorder and cannot be helped.

      5.It is treatable.

      6.Stress is a major trigger.

      7.Maintain a calm environment when with a friend who is


      8.Educate yourself on mental illness.

      9.Encourage your friend to educate herself/himself on

      the illness.

      10Be a listener.

    • Eleven13 profile image

      Eleven13 8 years ago

      Thanks for the note. Life can be a great teacher. I've learned that if I'm lucky, it doesn't let me off the hook until a lesson has really sunk in. I had a friend who suffered horribly from depression. At first I didn't understand how someone could be under a figurative cloud on a perfectly sunny day; how I could see someone so gifted and bright, with so much potential, and my friend saw only gloom. Then a very nice doctor taught me about the chemical component, the neurotransmitters, the effects on the left-right sides of the brain. I read everything I could and learned more. And when my friend understood that it was impaired perception, not reality, the depression became easier to manage. We also learned that activity and laughter and being engaged often triggered a natural relief to depression -- it took something to get the engine going, if you know what I mean. I often wonder how many people who seem unpleasant are simply looking at the world through glasses that are smeared with something awful -- something that makes everything distorted. Such an interesting world!

    • agaglia profile image

      agaglia 8 years ago

      thank you. this is a good list. I am not bipolar, but have more than a passing acquaintance with depression. the part about the view was a new idea for me. I will think on it a bit.

      My bipolar friends would also dig your list.