Nothing Compares to this.

Bipolar Personality Disorder is a physical disease, much like Diabetes or Epilepsy.

Boy has that generated a lot of comments.  Actually, that has pissed a lot of people off.

That statement has been made frequently in my posts and continues to generate some of the most comments and replies.  The general theme is that the other illnesses I’ve compared it too don’t cause the suffering, financial loss, and abuse that Bipolar Disorder does.

And, that is absolutely correct.

But at the same time, what I am saying is true as well.

Every disease is different.  The effects of Epilepsy are completely different from Multiple Sclerosis.  And the symptoms of Diabetes are not comparable at all to those of Heart Disease.  But there is a commonality to them all.  Even intermittent issues such as migraine headaches have one characteristic in common with the rest.

They are physical in origin.

Not all mental illnesses are like that.  I don’t have statistics or numbers, but based on what I can find I’d say that the majority of mental illnesses are psychological in nature, and not a bodily affliction.  Many of these conditions are developed over time from things like unhealthy environments and significant life events.  One of my ex wives was involved in a horrific automobile accident when she was a teenager, and her face was scarred from injuries she sustained.  The scars were actually just in her hairline and not obvious at all; but the trauma of the accident left emotional scars as well, and the physical ones were a constant reminder for her.  As she aged, she developed clinical diagnoses of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.  She became absolutely obsessed with her looks and saw herself as horribly disfigured.   There is no telling how much money was spent in her effort to hide what she saw.  Now, I am not minimizing what she went through at all.  What she experienced and the disorder that developed was very real for her.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like to go through something like that, and am not judging her in any way. It was horrible for her.  The point is, there are mental illnesses that are clearly not physical in nature.

And then there are those that may start out circumstantial, and then develop into something more clinical.  Depression can be a good example of this.  While not an absolute by any means, there are depressions that begin as circumstantial.  There are countless events and conditions that could trigger a depression.  Over time, an extended episode can cause the body chemistry to change and become the contributing factor.  My opinion is, that is the reason why some medications stop being effective or a different medication can work when it didn’t before.

Bipolar Personality Disorder is definitely all the things that have been said about it.  It can be the cause of financial problems; even total disaster.  The depression episodes can completely destroy everyday life not, making it impossible to function at all.  And the manic episodes can be totally devastating.  There can be out of control behavior; totally inappropriate anger; even outright abuse.  In many ways the nature of the illness affects not only the person with the illness, but everyone else in their life.  Other illnesses can certainly impact others, but Bipolar can be directed specifically at others.

I am in no way, nor have I ever equated the symptoms, and the behaviors of Bipolar Personality Disorder to any other illness.

What I have said is, they all start from a physical condition.

Okay, a lot has been said over what I think is a very simple concept.  There seems to a common perception that people with Bipolar Personality Disorder are just crazy.  I get a feeling of blame for having this illness, and from other comments and replies I’ve gotten I’m not alone with that feeling.  As I’ve said before; I am and we all are 100% responsible for the results of our behaviors.  While it’s not always possible to be aware of the condition, there is an underlying obligation to seek out and follow treatment.  (That one is a little bit gray… one of the features of the illness is denial and a tendency to discontinue treatment when the symptoms diminish.  But the responsibility is still there.)  But just like all the other diseases I’ve referenced in the past, there is no blame for having the illness.  Nobody chooses to be sick, including those who are Bipolar.  But that is the extent of my comparison.  You can’t correlate all the different diseases.  There is no question that Bipolar Personality Disorder is manifested emotionally.  The damage that can be done can absolutely be intentional.  The effects of the illness can have a huge impact on others in ways that are not like any other.  But I still say that Bipolar Personality Disorder is a physical disease, much like Diabetes or Epilepsy.  The commonality is in a basic, physical origin, and only that.  But in regards to the symptoms and effects of this disease?

There is no comparison.

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6 Responses to Nothing Compares to this.

  1. blahpolar says:

    Erm … bipolar affective disorder (or just bipolar disorder).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anygirl says:

    I think you’re confusing the terminology- Bipolar Disorder isn’t a personality disorder, i don’t know much about personality disorders but I know they are very different in origin and manifestation to bipolar.

    I think the best evidence for bipolar being a biologically based illness the genetic link. I’m disagree with being 100% responsible for our behaviors while sick though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Astrid says:

    I want to say that, while I get why bipolar might be a biologically-caused illness most of the time, it isn’t said that bipolar patients won’t ever benefit from psychological guidance. Similarly, people with PTSD (which often is seen as a psychological illnes) may benefit from medications such as antidepressants. In addition, trauma can alter the brain and the brain can predispose people to certain ways of thinking (psychological). For these reasons, I don’t see the difference between a psychological illness and a physical illness, and neither does DSM-5 really. Like, in DSM-IV, in certaind isorders there would be a differentiation between psychological and physical symptoms, but DSM-5 had abadoned this (eg. with somatic symptom disorders, thre’s no longer a need that tey are medically unexplained). It honestly doesn’t matter whether an illness was first caused by biological or psychological factors. I do see the difference between milder psychological problems and psychiatric illnesses, but that’s a matter of severity not cause.


  4. There is only the physical isn’t there? If it is “emotional” or “psychological” it is originating in the brain, which is obviously not functioning properly in some way. Isn’t the brain an organ in the body? There isn’t a difference between physical any psychological. Unless we are arguing that we have something outside of the organ called the brain or any other part of our body that is causing the problem. In that case, wouldn’t we just be saying that there is a soul or spirit and that is where the problem lies? I’m not sure I understand how we can make a distinction between an illness originating in the brain and one originating in any other part of the body. It doesn’t make sense. Cancer, diabetes, etc can also be caused or triggered by environmental factors as. Some types of diabetes can be onset because of poor diet. exposing ourselves to carcinogens can cause cancer, etc. Would we also argue that dementia is an emotional problem, not physical, therefore a dementia patient is 100% responsible for their own behaviors? There is only one body, if there is an illness then it is physically based in my opinion. How can there be a distinction between psychological and physical when psychological is referring to activity produced in the physical organ, the brain.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Can you provide a link to convincing evidence that bipolar is actually a physical disease? I just haven’t seen that yet, nor did I notice it in your post, which was polemical, rather than scientific.


  6. Anna says:

    I am relieved to see these questions posed. I have been the “recipient” of bipolar behaviors in the past and felt as though I may be a horrible person for not buying into the “it’s not my fault” mentality. The more I read and the more therapy I, personally, have I believe this one sentiment whole heartedly: When a person is told/diagnosed/admitted to being bipolar, it is not a license for absolution for all the horrible things that you did. I believe that, similarly to a 12 step program, that apologies should be free flowing from the bipolar individual. I believe that if that person isn’t truly sorry and admits to being sorry then all their therapy, medications, etc are simply more smoke and mirrors to allow them to act out at a later time. It is not assuming the responsibility for their disorder. There is no remorse or repentance. For those of us surviving the onslaught of a “bipolar” individual there will never be any healing without that. And that makes you a horrible person…no matter what the label is that you choose to be under.
    And something else that I question: if a person is truly incapable of managing their emotions when they are manic or depressed then I would suspect that they would be completely unaware of them. If you know that you are slamming doors, punching people, spending uncontrollably, acting out sexually – how can you claim you aren’t responsible for it? If you can write blogs about your experiences then you retain the memory of those experiences…you must be responsible.
    I read several of these blogs in part and have seen that there are family members and ex wives that have been hurt by these actions and I wonder if you have ever apologized to any of them.
    I doubt it.
    I wonder if any other people labeled as bipolar have…


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