Both you and your loved one may have to deal with the external stigma from society because of your loved one’s bipolar disorder – but what about the internal stigma your loved one may be suffering from?

 

I’m not going to debate which is worse – external stigma or internal stigma – but there are some things you should be aware of, in case your loved one has internalized this stigma.

 

If they have, they may perhaps be feeling the following:

 

·       Fear from society

 

Your loved one may feel as if society is shunning them because they have bipolar disorder.  They may feel a fear of society and people in general, as if harm might come to them.  At worst, perhaps in a manic episode, this can lead to actual paranoia.

 

·       Feeling like “damaged goods”

 

Just as society might stigmatize them, your loved one might stigmatize themselves, by feeling like they are “less than,” or “damaged goods,” just because they have bipolar disorder.

 

·       Feeling patronized

 

Your loved one may be feeling as if they are being patronized, even if it is only imagined.  They may be feeling as if society, friends,  co-workers, family, or even you are doing the patronizing. 

 

·       Resentful

 

Because they may be feeling this internal stigma, and because they may be getting mixed signals of where it is coming from (as stated in the last point), your loved one may be feeling resentful. If this resentment is directed at you, understand that this is where it may be originating.

 

·       Self-pity or Feeling like a victim

 

This is perhaps one of the worst ways of internal stigma manifesting itself in your loved one.  It can cause low self-esteem and even cause them to isolate themselves, which can lead to a bipolar episode.

 

As long as you are aware that your loved one may be feeling these things due to internal stigma, you can be more understanding of their behavior due to these feelings.