Today I want to discuss how a wide variety of people seem to often assume that mood episodes are getting better, when they are not. The amount of people who end conversations with us concluding, “well at least it’s getting a bit easier now!” is astounding.
Now the people making these statements come from all walks of life. We have had mental health professionals, family and friends all decide that our lives are improving steadily. There are many problems that can arise from this.
You could say that these comments are trying to see the brighter side of life and are just trying to be positive. Unfortunately this can have an adverse effect on some people suffering from Bipolar (or, I imagine, pretty much any mental health issue). It often feels like everybody is trying to belittle our problems. When barely coping with life the last thing you need is a constant barrage of happiness and lies. This also causes many people we know to think we spend all our lives “chilling out” and have a much easier life than them, as we don’t work. This is pretty ludicrous and extremely aggravating.
Another potentially damaging consequence of people assuming moods are improving comes solely from the professional side of things. To put it simply when doctors, nurses and social workers speculate that everything is getting better, they are going to offer less support as they don’t think you need it. I have witnessed so many appointments ending with advice along the lines of “Well then, keep doing what you’re doing and hopefully things with continue to get better” when Anon has spent the last 3 months depressed, and still feels incredibly low and suicidal.
As a carer it’s important to try to get across the misery of the current situation. I personally struggle with this on a regular basis as complaining and moaning about life is not in my nature. I can clearly explain how Anon and I are managing, but if I don’t act and sound like I’m ready to give up then 9 times out of 10 we won’t get the support we need.
My advice to carers and sufferers alike is: never be afraid to sound miserable. The alternative can be much more damaging both socially and medically.