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Bipolar and Conquering Self-Stigma

There is so much stigma associated with bipolar disorder. Societally, people with bipolar disorder may be seen as crazy, lazy, worthless, dangerous, and more. These messages are so strong, in fact, that many of us with bipolar disorder internalize them.

This is called self-stigma. And even though we know the ideas of stigma are wrong and unfair, it can be really hard to get them out of our own heads. Here's how you can address self-stigma around bipolar disorder.

Bipolar self-stigma is real

The first thing to do is to realize that self-stigma is real and really normal. As I said, society can send out some overwhelmingly negative messages. You're only human for internalizing them. For me, recognizing that your my thoughts are stemming from stigma is the first step to defeating them.

Also, be gentle with yourself, and don't beat yourself up for feeling bipolar-related self-stigma. When we know our thoughts are faulty, we sometimes get mad at ourselves for having them, but this won't help us.

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Getting rid of self-loathing beliefs

You may then want to write down the negative beliefs you have about your own bipolar to determine which of them are really yours and which of them are just self-stigma rearing its head. In my experience, having a list in front of me can help me identify which beliefs really are faulty. Seeing things in black and white makes them clearer.

Fighting them with facts

I believe the way to dispel the stigmatized false beliefs around bipolar is through facts. You can research those facts yourself, or you can just look at your own life for evidence.

For example, have you ever posed a danger to another person? I never have. I can dispel the myth of people with bipolar disorder being dangerous just by looking at my own life.

Bipolar and feelings of worthlessness

Some bipolar self-stigma thoughts may not be fightable with facts, however. For example, you may feel worthless because of bipolar disorder. This is where logic and self-talk come in.

I am sure to assess my negative thoughts logically and see if they're reasonable. One way I do this is to look at how a negative idea would apply to someone else. For example, if you had a friend with bipolar disorder, would you believe they are worthless because of their diagnosis? Even though you might have thought that about yourself, you likely wouldn't think it about someone else.

For me, this is a good indicator that the negative thought is really a result of bipolar self-stigma. Moving the thought outside ourselves can help us see things more clearly.

Rewiring our self-talk

Once I assess my thought as being a result of self-stigma, then I need to use self-talk to battle it. For example, every time I feel worthless, I need to tell myself that negative belief is coming from self-stigma.

You're not worthless. Worth is not granted or taken away via a diagnosis.

Pushing past bipolar stigma

Self-talk is not easy. Battling self-stigma is not easy. But over time, those reflexive, self-stigmatized thoughts can be quelled thanks to our purposeful, internal voice.

Stigma in society is unfair, and self-stigma is equally unfair. So, take the time to look at your negative beliefs and fight them. You deserve it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.