One of the most reliable consequences of bipolar disorder or probably any emotional illness is loneliness. Simple loneliness– but sometimes so strong that it leaves us feeling discarded and like you are stuck being a visitor in your own life.
To a degree the loneliness is given birth by another of the most common consequences of bipolar disorder– fear. People with bipolar learn quickly to fear what happens when other people find out. They learn what it means for others to assume you have no judgement, no character, no self control and are worthy of little or no trust. They learn that just the word bipolar scares other people and makes them wonder what you are going to do to them. They learn that when other people find out they have bipolar they automatically assume they are nothing else other than bipolar.
Most people with bipolar can tell you all kind of horror stories about what it meant to them when others found out. They tell about losing jobs. They tell of prejudice of all sorts. They tell of relationships ended and off personal embarassments. They learn to fear other people. Even condenscension can leave many cuts.
If you are bipolar one of the things you need more than anything else is not to be alone. Recovery does not occur in a vacum. But to so many people with bipolar they learn that survival depends on being alone. At minimium they learn the necessity of personal vigilance.
Their everyday frustration is to be surrounded by the liquid they need but being told by life that it is too dangerous to drink. They find themselves dying of thirst in a land where it seems like everyone elses glass is full.
They give up on people. They try to learn the proper social dance to insure there survival the best they can, but find there life shaded by the sadness of knowing that openess brings only disappointment and pain.
Stigma is a real thing. It is a primary source of the failure of our mental health system. People do not want to be part of anything they believe will result in them being labeled “just another crazy.” Almost every person I know who has struggled with an emotional illness has struggled with a sense of personal shame at what they have done or who they feel they have become. Intergral to recovery is learning to accept who they are. An environment which however unwittingly or accidentally confirms that sense of personal shame is experienced as cruel and unusual punishment. And it leave people wondering if loneliness is all they can look forward to and trying to accept it as the least of bad options.