4 Tips for Telling Someone about Your Bipolar Disorder

Last Updated: 23 Jan 2020

Deciding whether or not to have “the conversation” about your bipolar with someone can be difficult. Keep these tips in mind if you’re on the fence:

#1 Consider the risks and rewards

Talking about your bipolar can seem like a huge risk. It can feel like you’re gambling your emotional stability or your professional and financial stability. However, disclosing your diagnosis at your workplace may actually give your employer better insight into your performance and make your boss more apt to support you. Explaining bipolar to a friend or family member could, in fact, gain you some practical and moral support.

#2 Think it through

As much as you worry about how people will react to your news, it’s impossible to predict someone’s response. You might be pleasantly surprised. Think about the potential consequences and implications of disclosing or not disclosing your disorder. For example, how does staying silent affect you? If you go public, you’ll experience the freedom of not keeping the secret, but just think through the repercussions so you’re not blindsided.

#3 Be prepared

If you’re considering telling your employer, first have a look through your workplace disclosure guide and review the employer’s privacy and accommodation policies. Also, it’s best to be prepared with enough reliable information about bipolar disorder before going into the disclosure talk, whether with friends, family members or a supervisor. Be prepared to soothe any concerns or satisfy any questions.

#4 Be patient

Don’t expect people to understand all the facts or have a deep understanding. There may be some judgment and ignorance in the way they respond. Clinical psychologist Carrie Bearden, PhD, lists some points to emphasize in both professional and personal settings: “You’re managing a treatable illness, are aware of how this illness affects you, that you’re being responsible about all of it, and are focused on having a very productive life.” Also, be aware you may have to address an employer’s fear that an employee with bipolar would be unpredictable, unproductive, or lose control of their emotions.

Related Article: The Disclosure Dilemma

  1. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place! I’m at a point in my life where I want to create awareness for Bipolar by posting my story on social media, however I’m worried if I will regret it later. Any thoughts????

  2. I have BP2. Last year after leaving hospital I made the decision to tell others as I went along. I have never found a good way of doing it. Most people have responded really well though I’m always left feeling hollow. I’ve ignored the few negative comments. But I’m glad I have done this. It’s a deeply personal decision for everyone but for me I got tired of lying or making excuses for why I could and couldn’t do certain things. It’s not our fault we suffer this condition. It can inspire others. It is though, news you cannot take back once told so do think it though and prepare. If in doubt say as little as possible. D

  3. As the years pass, I find it easier to share being Bipolar 2. Inevitably, someone comes up to me afterwards to tell me about their daughter or themself. I believe that knowledge is power and the more people that know, the better. I’m sure there have been some who have had raised eyebrows, but I consider them unwilling to accept the fact that those of us With this disease can still participate in life just as they do.
    God Bless to All……….TSD

  4. I suffer from bipolar 1 and find myself with more lows than a manic episode. Mind you that can identify when I am a little manic and see my therapist or find some distraction because my big thing is spending and I am in deep debt. I have a good therapist and don’t mind going to talk about what is going on. My psychiatrist is good and have found meds that keep me stable. I also suffer from chronic pain and recently have started on something for that which has made my life better. So getting involved in volunteering or a hobby is good for the soul.

  5. I am so tired of hearing about recovery from mental illness! I agree with the writer who states mental illness is managed, not cured.

    Also, bphope.com. persists in describing upbeat stories of how societal stigma has changed. No it has not!

    I have an R.N. Degree as well as a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Marital and Family Therapy from Northwestern University. And then I got sick, very sick. I think I’ve been diagnosed with every mental illness at one time or another, except for Borderline Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. My final diagnosis has been Bipolar Disorder

    I have lost my career, my first marriage and two of my sons, which almost killed me by two serious suicide attempts. My second husband saved my life twice.

    I have been hospitalized six times in horrible places, except one. It always amazes me when knowledgeable advocates advise people in crises to call the Suicide Hot Line. Calling them usually ends up with cops at your door who take you to a horrible treatment facility.

    Please recognize that enormous pain comes with the diseases and many people do not end up with uplifting stories. Look at the terrible homeless problem in this country. Most of these people are mentally ill, turn to alcohol and drugs to get some relief from their horrible pain. Their families and friends have abandoned them and the homeless shelters are starved for funds and oftentimes lack compassion.

    I know I sound angry. I do feel sorry for myself; I have every reason to speak regarding the other side of the reality of the stigma, disrespect and ignorance which is an enormous impediment to real hope.

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