Anyone who has bipolar disorder would agree that there are many bad things that the disorder causes for them; such as: having to take medication every day for the rest of their lives, having to change their whole lifestyle to accommodate the disorder, having to go see doctors and therapists and psychiatrists, etc.
However, the three worst things that bipolar disorder causes are:1. Distortion of the truth2. Suicidal and homicidal intentions3. Destruction of families
Distortion of the Truth
Bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance of the brain, and when those chemicals are misfiring, it leads to a thought imbalance as well – a distortion of the truth. The person’s thoughts are no longer rational, as seen by manic behavior such as spending sprees, inappropriate sexual conduct, and excessive gambling or eating.
This is especially seen in patients who have bipolar disorder with psychotic features – meaning that they have delusions (irrational ideas, thoughts, and beliefs) and hallucinations (seeing and/or hearing things that aren’t really there).
When you are dealing with a loved one in a bipolar episode and they are not “themselves,” they are most likely in a state where they are experiencing a distortion of the truth. You may see things one way, while they are seeing things an entirely different way. No matter how much you argue your point, they will not agree with you. They are not trying to be obstinate -- they truly do, at that time, believe what they are saying is the truth. In the most severe bouts of mania, there is also a distortion of reality that can even be classified as hallucinatory. The reality that someone with bipolar disorder is experiencing is not the same as the reality you are experiencing, so if your loved one tells you that her mother slapped her, she may truly believe that. If you ask your mother-in-law later and she says she brushed something off her daughter's cheek, they may both be telling the truth, as they understood it at the time. Even if it is the truth that you are the mom and your daughter did, indeed, slap you, when your loved one is in a state like that, the only thing you can do is either agree with them or leave them alone. In more cases than not, they will not even remember the behavior after the episode is over; after they have returned to rational thought.
When a person with bipolar disorder is in an episode or cycle, it can also be that they simply cannot control their ability to lie or tell the truth, because they are not in touch with reality. A manic episode is noticeable by a lack of impulse control and rational thinking - the brain is not signaling correctly. Telling the truth is based partly on the ability to control yourself and relay accurate information. Traits common in bipolar disorder that can lead to dishonest behavior include difficulty with inferential comprehension and a strong sense of literal comprehension, in which everything is 'black and white'. Many people with bipolar disorder are so intent on the entertainment value of being a good story teller that they simply say whatever pops into their head because negative attention to them is better than none at all. A person with bipolar disorder definitely has a distorted perception of reality during an episode. If they perceive your actions as aggressive or unloving, nothing you do is going to change that perception and they will relay their perception as the truth to anyone who will listen. When a person with the disorder truly believes you are being mean, unsupportive or whatever, they often feel doubly betrayed - first by their mood disorder, and second by the person they were counting on to support and love them. This is why they can't let go of the little lies like, 'He shoved me!' even when we may want to just let it drop. It is this litany of accusation that they nurse like a grudge, holding on to it as proof that the world around them isn't being fair to them. When the episode passes, so too will this mood.
Don't give in to the urge to respond when they keep trying to 'push your buttons' on this type of an issue. It's about choosing your battles. Since you know that this perception will pass with the episode, why waste time and energy arguing about it now? Better to save that energy to address the more important lies - the ones that can cause permanent damage (lies to therapists, lies to credit card companies, lies of omission).
David Oliver is the nation's leading experts on helping and supporting a loved one with bipolar disorder. You can get learn about many of David's little known, yet effective strategies to cope and deal with your loved one's bipolar by clicking here right now. View all articles by David Oliver