There is widespread misconception and stigma about bipolar disorder. Many people have the belief that anyone with bipolar disorder is mentally unbalanced, to the point of not being reliable or trustworthy.
People with bipolar disorder often keep their condition to themselves at work and in certain social situations. There is a reasonable risk of people feeling differently about you, once they find out you have bipolar disorder.
In one documentary I watched, many of the people interviewed, confused bipolar with other mental illnesses like schizophrenia and considered people with bipolar to be out of touch with reality.
When people were asked the initial question of what they knew about bipolar disorder, they began to look somewhat uncomfortable in their body language and facial expression. As they described what they thought they knew about bipolar disorder, they had a detached way of talking about it.
They would say things like “They get happy one minute and then really angry the next, and then happy again. They are completely unpredictable. Anything can cause them to have a sudden angry outburst.”
The thing that I noticed beyond their words, was the way they kind of detached themselves from people with bipolar, by seeming as though “those bipolar people” are people that they never interact with.
They had the assumption that it would be very apparent to them that the someone was very mentally ill, if they ever were to run into a bipolar person. The people in the interviews thought that bipolar people were very different from everyone else and that they would not just fit in or blend in with everyone else.
I could feel a real sense of detachment and a wanting to be detached from anyone with bipolar disorder, from many of the people in the interview. It was clear that a lot of people assume that they never interact with any people that have bipolar disorder.
Since the estimated percentage of people with bipolar disorder is between 2 and 3 percent of the population, it is likely that most people know someone with bipolar disorder, and that they interact with them at some point, during the course of their day to day lives.
I would venture to say that almost no one could pick out the person who has bipolar disorder, if they were to guess based on personalities and behaviors of the people they know.
Bipolar disorder causes suffering to the person that has it, more than to the people around them There is no reason that you would know that your co-worker has bipolar disorder, unless they chose to tell you. The same goes for your classmates, your waitress, your doctor,your pastor and even your family members.
People with bipolar disorder can to be very kind and compassionate to others, and understanding of people who have pain and suffering. One of the best nurses I know has bipolar disorder. She is far more compassionate to the patients than most of the nurses I have worked with.
If there is a very angry, mean person that you know and try to avoid interacting with, that is probably not the person with bipolar disorder in your life.
The unreliable coworker that you are always covering shifts for because they call out, is probably not the person in your life with bipolar either. We are probably the coworker that is saving your ass, when the other person calls out again.