6 Things People With Bipolar Disorder Want You To Know: 'I Am Not Jekyll And Hyde'

04/02/2016 13:04 | Updated 04 February 2016
  • Rachel Moss Lifestyle Writer at The Huffington Post UK

One in every 100 adults in the UK will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in their lives, yet the condition is often misunderstood by those unaffected.

The mental health condition, formerly known as manic depression, affects a person's moods and causes them to experience periods of mania and periods of depression.

The time it takes for a person to switch between these states of feeling very low and lethargic to very high and overactive varies from person to person. But it's important to remember that bipolar disorder is not simply about having "mood swings".

Although medical experts are yet to discover a definitive cause of bipolar disorder, it is thought that several things can trigger the condition such as extreme stress or an overwhelming life-changing event. Genetic and chemical factors are also thought to have an influence.

To break down stigma that still surrounds the condition, here are six things people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder want you to know:

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1. It's Not Like Being A ‘Jekyll And Hyde’ Character

In a blog on HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Sharon Sutton said she gets frustrated by this inaccurate cultural reference linking bipolar disorder to Robert Louis Stevenson's novel.

"I am not a Jekyll and Hyde character. It's not in my nature but sometimes bipolar disorder makes me present that way to people because that is what it does to me. This is not me as a person, this is bipolar," she wrote.

2. It's Not Our Choice

In an interview with HuffPost UK Young Voices, a young woman named Zoë said she did not want to give her surname as she was concerned it would affect her employment prospects.

She said that people do not understand that bipolar disorder is not a choice.

"You can't just 'snap out of it'. Some people don't really seem to understand how all-encompassing it can be to live with bipolar and think I should just 'get over' it," she said.

3. It Can Be A Good Thing

Despite the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder, being diagnosed with the condition is seen as a positive step by many sufferers.

In a blog on HuffPost Entertainment, writer Hazel Butler said: “When I was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder in 2010 I was relieved.

"I'd been very ill for almost 15 years. Finally having an answer seemed like a gift from the gods."

4. Reactions We Receive Can Be Sexist

Writer Katie Higgins believes people judge her bipolar symptoms and manifestations differently to how they would judge a man’s.

"The ways in which my manic episodes present themselves- especially in regards to self-destructive behaviours such as bad casual sex and alcohol reliance - are not [seen as] symptoms of an illness, but instead reflections of me as a woman," she said.

"Women are not supposed to be promiscuous, or drink heavily. When I do these things I have failed as a woman, and society takes great pleasure in this, because nice women are good but bad women are better - because bad women are easier to vilify.

"Society has told me that I am a bad woman, that the manifestations of my illness are choices that I make. Society has told me that I deserve this."

5. Dating Can Be Difficult

Previously speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Rebecca, who appeared on Channel 4 Show ‘First Dates’, said her condition had affected romantic relationships in the past.

"I carry a lot of guilt, I feel like my partners suffer more than me, I can be so nasty and unrecognisable,” she said.

"I say things that are so mean, I hate myself so much and I want them to hate me as much as I hate myself, so I do horrible things. I push them... I want a reaction.

"My last relationship ended very dramatically and it was before I was diagnosed, but looking back now I can see that it was a classic case example of bipolar."

6. We Are Not So Different To Everybody Else

"Everyone has good days and down days but for me they are more extreme,” Matt Streuli blogged on HuffPost UK Young Voices.

"We all know someone with some level of mental health issues, whether it is the hormones firing in all directions after giving birth, the grief of losing a loved one or even returning to 'normal' society from the horrors of war. Perhaps it is more normal than we all think.

"Perhaps we all slip into the mental illness side of the spectrum at some point in our lives."

SEE ALSO:

Common Mental Health Myths

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