The Lies Bipolar Tells Me—Uncovering the Truth

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It may not be easy, but part of managing bipolar disorder depression is recognizing when your negative thoughts are simply not true.

Photo: Getty Images/SIphotography

By Julie A. Fast

 

Bipolar is such a liar! It says things that are not true, but they feel real and it’s hard not to get caught up by the thoughts that we KNOW are unrealistic—they feel so real it’s hard to fight the words and feelings that are generated from the “bipolar brain.”

An example: I am currently sitting in the English Pub where I watch my favorite sport (international football) and where I’m about to participate in an evening pub quiz.

I came a few hours early to get some writing done, so I am currently alone at my table. There are other tables filled with people having a good time. The minute I walked in, I had this thought,

“Julie, look how much fun everyone is having. You never have fun like this! Most people have groups of friends they hang out with. You are always alone. Look at them! Laughing and having fun. They get to work together. I bet they have easy lives. They are all laughing and you are always alone!”  

What the heck?!

Really?  I am early to MEET THE PEOPLE I will be with all evening IN A GROUP doing a pub quiz. One of my closest friends will be here soon just to chat and have dinner before the quiz.

How many lies does my bipolar brain have to tell me until I finally realize that my bipolar brain is not to be trusted?

And before anyone says this is about self-esteem or personalty, please know that I’m NOT like this when my life is stable. I have these thoughts and worries when I am slightly depressed, as I am today. This is my stress response and not the real me.

The real ME, my stable SELF simply walks in a pub, sits down and gets on with life.

My goal? To recognize when my bipolar brain is lying to me. I simply can’t listen and I must be very careful not to act on the lies my brain tells me when I am feeling down and stressed.

What about you? Do you know the difference between yourself and your bipolar brain? It helps to have a list of the lies your bipolar brain tells you. They usually have a pattern and you can learn to recognize the pattern and say NO when your brain is not being your friend.

Learn more:

How to Be Kind to Yourself When You Have Bipolar Disorder

Relationships and the Bipolar Trap 

 

Julie 

 

About the author
Julie A. Fast is the author of "Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder," "Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder," "Get it Done When You’re Depressed" and "The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder." She is a columnist and blogger for BP Magazine and won the Mental Health America journalism award for the best mental health column in the US. Julie was also the recipient of the Eli Lily Reintegration award for her work in bipolar disorder advocacy. Julie is a bipolar disorder expert for the Dr.Oz and Oprah created site ShareCare. Julie is CEU certified and regularly trains health care professionals including psychiatric residents, social workers, therapists and general practitioners on bipolar disorder management skills. She was the original consultant for Claire Danes for the show Homeland and is on the mental health expert registry for People Magazine. She works as a coach for parents and partners of people with bipolar disorder. Julie is currently writing a book for children called "Hortensia and the Magical Brain: Poems for Kids with Bipolar, Anxiety, Psychosis and Depression." You can find more about her work at JulieFast.com and BipolarHappens.com.
12 Comments
  1. Spot on. I struggle so much with this; trying to tell my bipolar brain to just “shut up!”

    My good / bad ratio is about 1:3. Meaning, for every one great week I have, there are about three bad ones.

    My bipolar brain is the constantly chattering heckler in the audience: as I’m trying to stay on task – whether it’s paying the bills, or doing something that requires concentration and focus – my bipolar brain runs in the background. Constantly asking, “are you sure that’s correct? Don’t you need to look this up a little more?”

    For a while I was doing well at shutting this guy up. It wears me down, though. I do know that alcohol only empowers bipolar brain: during the hangover (which typically lasted 3-4 days), the world looked completely fragmented and distorted – as if seen through a cracked windshield. I’ve removed alcohol from my life (nearly 6 weeks sober) so that’s helped weaken the voice. However, sugar has taken its place; it’s not quite as severe, but I definitely do notice the difference when I abstain.

  2. First read of Julies. Is she Bi Polar or a major roll in the studies?

  3. Before I was diagnosed with Bipolar 5 months ago I thought everyone’s brain talked to them like that. Once I saw that it was a symptom I asked those around me and they were not like that. I could be just fine and then my brain will give me a scenario of a made up situation, almost like a movie running in my mind, and it will greatly upset me. For instance, the last one was that I stumbled across a text conversation between my adult children of what a pain I was and they just tolerated and put up with me and it made me cry. It of course is absolutely not true. I have a great relationship with them. I know now this is what has led to my low self esteem is listening to these thoughts. I now have to work hard to catch them and visualize myself holding up my hand and saying stop! Sometimes I actually say it out loud… stop, that’s not true. These thoughts over my 54 years have led me to be an overachiever, worried about everyone’s needs over mine, to the point of making me physically broken down with a chronic illness, and suicidal. Luckily now I’m receiving help, and although it’s a deep hole to climb out of it at least I’m going in a better direction. Your posts help me so much to understand this. Thank you very much

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