Most people, at one point or another, have lied about how they’re feeling. From white lies that spare the feelings of others to not telling the truth because you’re afraid of the reaction you’ll get, we’ve all told a lie before. When you live with bipolar disorder, explaining your moods to others can be tough. Maybe they don’t really understand the high highs of mania or the low lows of depression, or maybe you haven’t told them you have bipolar disorder.
You might tell a lie to those who don’t “get” bipolar disorder, as a way to explain your moods or actions — especially during a manic episode where you might feel wired and not need to sleep or buy things you can’t afford. You might say things like:
“I’ve just had a lot of sugar and it’s making me feel hyper.”
“I slept enough last night.”
“I really needed these new pairs of shoes.”
While it might be difficult, being open and honest with others about your struggles can help them better understand the condition and support you. If you have trouble explaining how you feel, try coming up with a system that lets you share how you are doing without explicitly having to state what your mood is. For example, this color chart can help you communicate your bipolar disorder symptoms by sharing “today’s color.” Each color is linked to a different symptom, making it easier to communicate how you’re feeling on a day where you may not have the words or ability to do so otherwise.
Of course, if you’ve lied about how you’re feeling you’re not alone. We wanted to know what lies people have told when they are experiencing mania, so we asked members of our bipolar disorder community to share them with us.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. ‘It’s just the caffeine.’
“‘I’m not manic, I promise. I’ve just had a couple of coffees.'” — Isaac O.
2. ‘I have the money to pay for this.’
“‘I can afford this shopping spree.'” — Gianina J.
“‘All these things I’ve bought? I needed them. I won’t regret buying them one bit, not even when I can’t afford my rent. Nope. Not at all.'” — Sophie M.
3. ‘I’m just in a good mood, that’s all.’
“‘Just because I’m in a really good mood and really energetic does not mean I’m manic.’ ‘Of course, I’ve been taking my meds.’ Just a couple out of many lies I tell myself and others when I’m manic because I refuse, at that moment, to believe I’m manic. I really want to think that I’ve finally beat this bipolar thing and that’s why I’m so much more productive. Then, inevitably, it all comes crashing down around me and that’s when I realize that I was manic and I’m not cured.” — Holly A.
“‘No I’m just in a really good mood today.’ Because if people catch on that I’m manic, they’ll try and force it away. Or institutionalize me…again.” — Pierre-Julien C.
4. ‘I’m not overbooked — I got this.’
“‘I know I can handle all these plans I make.'” — Bryan M.
5. ‘It’s just my anxiety.’
“‘My anxiety is just bothering me a little bit, but it’s alright.'” — Megan B.
“‘Must be anxiety making me feel this way.’ I tell it to myself because it’ll stop my thoughts from becoming intrusive. (Especially when it comes to spending all my money, quitting my job, etc.)” — Cristi B.
6. ‘I’m like this all the time.’
“‘Maybe if I pretend I’m like this all the time, I won’t go into a depressive state.'” — Elizabeth M.
7. ‘I’m my true self when I’m in this state.’
“‘I’m myself when I’m manic. I’m a better person because I can see so much better, I love deeper, try harder, etc.’ I’m actually my best self when stable. Manic, I’m a nightmare to be around.” — Bethany B.
8. ‘I’m sticking to my treatment regiment.’
“‘Yeah I’m taking my meds/going to therapy.’ Knowing good and well I stopped taking them a couple of weeks ago, because I leveled out after my depression, and thought I was cured.” — Emily G.
9. ‘I’m just really happy.’
“Oh there are many but the first one is always: ‘I’m not manic, I’m just extremely happy today and just have a lot of exciting new energy and if I keep it a secret, it will go away!'” — Natalie W.
10. ‘It’s actually my ADHD.’
“‘It’s just my ADHD making me forgetful and full of energy.’ Joys of having multiple diagnoses, I just wind up blaming one of the others.” — Ashley B.
11. ‘I’m taking care of myself.’
“That I am looking after myself, I’m feeling great, life is wonderful and I love every living soul but really just the opposite. Surviving on three to four hours sleep, loss of appetite, reserves low and the [knowledge] of the inevitable tumble way back down.” — Mary Jane E.
12. ‘I don’t need help.’
“‘I don’t need help. I can finally beat this thing.’ Because I feel on top of the world when manic. Then reality comes roaring back and I realize that it was a side effect and I need help in this state as much as I do during a depressive episode.” — Jolyn B.
13. ‘I don’t need sleep.’
“‘I don’t need to sleep’ or ‘I slept an hour, that’s plenty.’ ‘You’re not going fast enough (drive faster, work faster, clean faster).’ ‘Everybody loves me, everybody wants me. I’m going to make everyone jealous because they can’t have me only my husband can.’ (At which point I start being all over him….not that he minds of course)” — Ashley W.
“I don’t need to eat/sleep – because it’s exactly what I need to help stabilize my mood. Instead, still enjoying the beginning of a high, I tell myself it will make me feel even better.” — Vanessa L.
14. ‘I’m stable.’
“‘This isn’t mania. I’m doing OK and I’m stable!'” I so desperately want to be ‘normal’ that my ‘happy’ and mania makes me think that I’m getting better and I am stable as I self-medicate on retail therapy.” — Alex D.
15. ‘I don’t have bipolar anymore.’
“‘I don’t have bipolar anymore, I am cured!'” — Aimee R.
“‘I don’t have an illness and I’m indestructible!'” — Frances C.
If you’re struggling to manage your mania, check out the tips in this story. You got this.