Have you ever heard the old expression, "Beware of the elephant in your living room?"  It meant not to ignore what was right in front of your face.  People would walk around problems in their family (or their own problems).  They would act as if there weren't even any problems at all, hoping they would go away, or miraculously solve themselves.  They wouldn't talk about them, among themselves or with other extended members of the family.

 

"What if the neighbors heard about it?" they would whisper, "Why that would be disastrous!"  That's why nobody would talk about it, and that's where the expression came from - ignoring the elephant in the living room.

 

Some people do that with bipolar disorder.  They ignore the "bipolar elephant" in the living room.  It's called denial.

 

First, you deny that there's even anything wrong with you.  "I can't have bipolar disorder," you exclaim.  "I feel fine!"  Yet without acceptance of the disorder, there can be no management of it.  You must first break through your denial – you cannot ignore the bipolar elephant in your living room.

 

I can't tell you whether to tell other people (family, extended family, or people outside your family) whether you or your loved one has bipolar disorder.  That's your decision. The important thing is that YOU accept the disorder.

 

In order to get rid of the bipolar elephant in your living room, you must confront it.  After accepting that you have bipolar disorder, you can begin to manage it; take back your control.  The first thing you need to know is:

 

YOU ARE NOT YOUR DISORDER!  You have your own identity outside your bipolar disorder.  Bipolar disorder is something you have, NOT something you are.  Remember that, as it is very important.

 

After you confront the bipolar elephant, don't just let it stay dormant in your living room.  In other words, don't just let your diagnosis sit there without doing anything about it.  Learn all you can about bipolar disorder (whether you are the one who has it, or are supporting someone who does).

 

There are things you can do to fight the bipolar elephant (bipolar disorder).  Although there is no cure at this time, you can learn to manage it through medication and therapy. 

 

The one thing you cannot do if you want to reach stability with bipolar disorder, however, is to ignore the bipolar elephant in your living room.