How stigma affects a bipolar person

The bipolar disorder has been a topic overly discussed over the years, without reaching a clear conclusion regarding it. Described as a “manic-depression” disorder, often linked to other diseases, the bipolar disorder affects millions of people worldwide. As if that were not enough, there is a huge stigma in the society regarding the people who suffer from this disease, having more to endure than those who are described as being “just depressed”. And all the stigma starts in the manic phase. Also, the stigma goes hand in hand with the fact that sometimes, it is considered more a sign of madness, rather than a mental illness. And add the fact that societies believe that only violent or people who have an overly insane behavior have somehow of a mental disorder, while others are viewed as attention seekers.

On the short, the bipolar disorder is basically a mood shift, the person suffering from it having those so called manic episodes and the depression moments. In the first case, they can make snap decisions, start different projects, without finishing them, having a short temper and being oddly euphoric, maybe not at the best time. Second case, after the manic phase wears off, those suffering might feel sad and empty, with low levels of energy and basically, be the antithesis of the manic episode.

Why is it so hard for society to fully understand and cope with a person who is bipolar? To be short, nobody understands how it works. Take the case of a family in which the son is bipolar and shits between moods, without any sign. The parents will not understand how it is possible for a human being they thought they knew to shift from being euphoric to being down in a matter of days, let’s say. Also, the fact that they do not have a pattern and cannot predict the mood shifts is also scary for the family members, since maybe the actions of the son make absolutely no sense not only to them, but for him either. Societies have somehow learnt how to deal with depression, since they know exactly how it is characterized and what is there to be done when someone feels done. What they have not managed is how to deal with the mania. How do you stop a person when euphoric? Maybe that person is euphoric because of other elements, not necessarily because of a bipolar disorder, as some would believe. People are usually scared of the unknown or what they do not have an explanation for and this is exactly the case.

The best solution in the case of a close person diagnosed with the disease is to actually understand what is does to that person and what is there to be done by others for that person to have it easier. It has become a real issue over the years and people with the bipolar syndrome are usually left aside by the societies they live in, being considered what they really are not, which is dangerous.

Does stigma really have the last word to say in this case?

 

Diana Rusu

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