Dispelling myths surrounding bipolar disorder can be challenging, especially considering its diverse presentation among individuals. In this episode, Gabe and Dr. Nicole delve into these misconceptions, emphasizing the varied nature of the disorder’s symptoms and the complexities involved in diagnosis and treatment. While acknowledging the importance of medication, they stress the holistic approach necessary for effective management, including therapy, support networks, and coping mechanisms.

Additionally, they confront the misconception that loved ones are powerless in supporting individuals with bipolar disorder. Tune in now to gain a deeper understanding of bipolar disorder and learn the truths versus the lies.

“. . . And that is probably one of the most dangerous myths. And really, it has its claws into all of the other myths, that this is somehow simple. And I, I’m, I’m, I’m terrified that people believe it’s simple, especially for our loved ones and for our people diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Because if they don’t realize how complicated this is, and they don’t realize how much work they need to do and how difficult this is going to be, then they might not be prepared for what’s ahead.” ~Gabe Howard, Host

Gabe Howard

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, “Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations,” available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author.

He is also the host of Healthline Media’s Inside Mental Health podcast available on your favorite podcast player. To learn more about Gabe, or book him for your next event, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.

Dr. Nicole Washington
Dr. Nicole Washington

Dr. Nicole Washington is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she attended Southern University and A&M College. After receiving her BS degree, she moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma to enroll in the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed a residency in psychiatry at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa. Since completing her residency training, Washington has spent most of her career caring for and being an advocate for those who are not typically consumers of mental health services, namely underserved communities, those with severe mental health conditions, and high performing professionals. Through her private practice, podcast, speaking, and writing, she seeks to provide education to decrease the stigma associated with psychiatric conditions.

Find out more at DrNicolePsych.com.

Producer’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: You’re listening to Inside Bipolar, a Healthline Media Podcast, where we tackle bipolar disorder using real-world examples and the latest research.

Gabe: Hey everybody, welcome to the podcast. My name is Gabe Howard and I live with bipolar disorder.

Dr. Nicole: And I’m Dr. Nicole Washington, a board-certified psychiatrist.

Gabe: And today we’re going to be discussing some of the myths that are out there surrounding bipolar disorder, because there’s just so many of them. But I want to put a slight little caveat on them. And they’re not sort of the cooler ones. Right? Like one of the myths is not like all bipolar are great detectives, right? We’re not going to cover that one. They’re not we’re just going to move past it. We’re going to cover some of those myths that people actually believe. They think that they sound reasonable enough that they’re actually making conscious decisions or unconscious decisions based on this information as a fact.

Dr. Nicole: Yeah, but somebody made them up, like along the way. Somebody said, oh, this sounds like it could be true. So I’m just going to run with it and say it loud enough and often enough that some people start to think it’s true. I mean, in that how like all these little myths about bipolar disorder or really anything, isn’t that how they work?

Gabe: That’s exactly how they work. But I, I just want the audience to be focused in on if we’re in the conspiracy theory land. These aren’t flat earth conspiracy theories.

Dr. Nicole: Okay.

Gabe: They’re more like that seems a little off, but maybe

Dr. Nicole: Okay.

Gabe: I want to talk about the ones that seem a little off, but maybe because I want to be clear, they they’re not right. They’re just not right. And the first one, just to rip the band aid right off and get us going, is that bipolar disorder looks the same in every single person with bipolar disorder. People believe this. They believe that all people with bipolar disorder are the person who they know with bipolar disorder.

Dr. Nicole: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I could see that the criteria doesn’t change, right? The criteria in the DSM five doesn’t change. It’s always the same. But how it comes out is very different. It’s actually why I ended up going into psychiatry, because when I was trying to make a decision about medicine and what area of medicine to study, I thought, oh my gosh, all those ear infections look the same. All those rattly lungs sound the same to me. But no two peoples anything. Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, like none of them are the same. So I, I agree 100%. No two people’s mental illness is the same.

Gabe: I want to talk directly to the people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, because comparison is the thief of joy. Theodore Roosevelt said it. I think it’s very, very true. If you are comparing yourself to the Gabe Howard of the world, the influencers of the world, the people who are sitting in your support group and you’re like, well, I have bipolar disorder and they have bipolar disorder. And they’re you think there’s data to mine there? There’s probably not. You have to apply what you’re learning, what you’re hearing and what you’re seeing specifically to your situation. If you just say, oh, well, they have bipolar disorder and they can do X, so therefore I should be able to do x. You’re going to cause yourself a lot of problems and correct me if I’m wrong. Dr. Nicole they’re probably going to cause you a lot of problems because they’re going to be unhappy with their treatment because they’re not exactly like Maria or Bob or Janie or Joey, and that’s got to cause you problems when they’re trying to get you to turn them into somebody else they know with bipolar disorder.

Dr. Nicole: Yeah, it really causes problems. Like on the inpatient unit when people start talking to each other. And they start sharing about, oh, I take this medicine. Oh, when I was manic, I did this or oh, you know, I had this particular symptom or. Oh, I’ve never had that. And somehow people try to make it seem like it’s medicine related that they don’t have that or it’s something. It must be something that your doctor is doing because I’ve never had that. It’s just they were different people. And it also, I think, brings up the whole point of how we manage the recovery, how we manage the looking for my signs and my cues that I’m getting to a certain place. Your cues are not going to be somebody else’s cues. Your, your signs that, oh, maybe I’m approaching mania. Maybe I’m getting a little too high. They’re not going to be the same as somebody else’s that you’ve met or talked to about their bipolar disorder. So it really is important to stay in your own lane and pay attention to your own signs and symptoms and not get so caught up in what other people have. So if I can tell you nothing else, worry about yourself. Just worry. Just watch. Just worry about yourself. Worry about your own symptoms, your own illness. You are in competition with nobody but yesterday’s you. So there is no reason to worry about like what other people have or what they don’t have.

Gabe: I think there is so much that we can learn from each other. I mean, I’m a huge, huge, huge proponent of peer support and support groups and learning from each other. I just want to make sure that people learn the correct things, learn about new treatments, learn about potential things. But keep that open mind like Dr. Nicole said and compare it to yourself. I, I cannot stress enough that if you think that every single person with bipolar disorder is the same, where is that going to end? Are all men the same? Are all women

Gabe: The same? Are all drummers the same? Are all artists the same? Are all lawyers the same? I mean, it just becomes this mess and you’re starting to play with stereotypes, and stereotypes can be very, very dangerous. And that really applies to bipolar disorder as well, especially when we get into symptom management. If you hear about a symptom that you have in common with somebody, let’s take hypersexuality. What worked for them to manage their hypersexuality might not work for you. And if you become so closed minded that you will only use the method that worked for your support group buddy, you could cost yourself that recovery, which would do untold damage to you.

Dr. Nicole: Sometimes I stress though, right? Like sometimes that’s. I’m scared about all the medicine and all the things that are being recommended to me, and there’s comfort in knowing that somebody you know had a good outcome with something. I see that a lot people come to me and they say, oh, I want to take this because my neighbor took it and she seemed to do pretty well. But I know three people who did something different and none of them did well. So some of that is trust and fear. And I do encourage you to just relax a little bit, take a deep breath, talk it over with your Dr. Nicole. But I also want to take a minute to say something to the loved ones out there, because I know y’all are listening because y’all are always in my DMs messaging me things about your loved one with bipolar disorder. It also means that you can’t say, well, this can’t be as a result of your bipolar disorder because so and So’s nephew has bipolar disorder and he never did that or so. And so’s daughter has bipolar disorder, and she never did that. She was able to do blah, blah, blah. So also for the loved ones, the support system out there that are listening, because we’re getting more and more of you every day listening. You also have to resist that urge to compare your loved one’s illness to somebody else’s, because it just may be very different.

Gabe: And here’s a great segue into that. Another myth. Myth number two, for those keeping track at home, is that bipolar disorder is super easy to diagnose. And I know exactly where this myth came from.

Dr. Nicole: Do you? Do you?

Gabe: I’ve got, I’ve got a super theory. I’ve

Dr. Nicole: Okay.

Gabe: Got a super theory. I think this is an area where online influencer culture has caused a problem. I think that bipolar disorder has become a little bit of a fad disorder. There are influencer accounts out there, there’s articles out there. There’s people who believe that they have bipolar disorder, that when you scratch below the surface a little bit, they haven’t actually been diagnosed by a Dr. Nicole or by a psychologist. They’re not actually in treatment for it. They just believe that they have some of the symptoms. Maybe they have manic outbursts, maybe they have excitement, maybe they have bursts of creativity. Maybe they have experienced some of the symptoms, like depression, for example. And they’ve decided that bipolar disorder is much better than I’m depressed because they believe that at least with bipolar disorder, you get that manic episode which has been romanticized to mean, you know, bursts of energy and spirituality and creativity. And so it’s almost a way to sort of counterbalance it. People believe that bipolar disorder giveth and bipolar disorder taketh away, and it becomes this thing that they’d rather put out in the universe than major depressive disorder or something like that. Now, again, I want to be very, very clear. If somebody says that they live with bipolar disorder, don’t say no, you don’t, Gabe said. You’re lying. Don’t say that. We have to take people at their words until they give us a reason otherwise. But we’ve seen an explosion in people who have this bipolar diagnosis. And I think that creates this idea that because we’re seeing so much of it, it must be easy to diagnose.

Dr. Nicole: Okay, so I had a little bit different theory about why we think it’s so easy to diagnose.

Gabe: Are you challenging me? Are you? Are you stepping, Dr. Nicole?

Dr. Nicole: I just I just had a different take on it, so.

Gabe: Okay. You’re allowed. That’s fair.

Dr. Nicole: Thank you for allowing me to have an opinion in the world, Gabe. I appreciate that. Anyway

Gabe: When you say it that way, I sound bad. [Laughter]

Dr. Nicole: [Laughter] Thank you. So my thought on why. It. It seems so easy is because when people think of bipolar disorder, people who have really good knowledge of what actual mania is, their ideas are always the severe manic episode. Of course, it’s easy to diagnose bipolar disorder when someone comes in in a severe manic episode and just floridly manic. It’s not that hard. I can walk onto a unit and see a person’s behavior when they first get there, or walk into the holding area or the admission area, and within a few minutes, at the top of my list of what is probably going on can be bipolar disorder when a person shows up in a certain state. So I thought that was why people thought, oh, it’s super easy because people’s idea of what bipolar disorder is always the extreme cases. They don’t think about the bipolar two person who could go decades before they’re actually officially diagnosed because their hypomania gets missed, or the person whose mania never quite gets to that severe place, and it’s just a little bit more difficult to pinpoint, is this personality, is this something else? Is this an anger mood swing from like, what is this? So that was my theory a little bit different than yours, but still mine nonetheless.

Gabe: Now I want to change my theory a little bit. I like your theory. And the reality is, is there’s probably truth in both of those. And a third one and a fourth one. We really don’t know why people think that bipolar disorder is easy to diagnose, but the reason that I’m concerned about it, and the reason that I wanted to bring it up, is because if people think that bipolar disorder is easy to diagnose, now we get to myth number three. Bipolar disorder is easy to treat. And if

Gabe: People think that bipolar disorder is easy to treat, I believe that that causes two problems. Let me talk to our folks with bipolar disorder. First. If you think it’s easy to treat and you’re struggling, you think that you are somehow abnormal. You think that you are having a problem that other people living with and managing bipolar disorder are not having. And nothing could be further from the truth. And to talk to our family members who are listening. If you think that bipolar disorder is easy to treat, you believe that if your loved one’s not getting better, well, either the doctor sucks or your loved one’s not doing what they’re supposed to do. Because after all, this is simple. Myth number three straight up bipolar disorder is easy to treat. Dr. Nicole, I imagine that you have by far more to say about this than I ever could.

Dr. Nicole: Who it is. It’s hard. People do think it’s easy to treat. Which is what leads to a lot of frustration. They don’t understand why. Like, why can’t you just give me the right medicine? And I too wish I could just scan somebody with my magic wand and know specifically what to give them. That’s just not how it works. People also think that they should be able to be maintained on just one medication, and that that is a bigger one. So I guess that does fall under the it should be easy to treat. You should be able to find this one thing. People don’t like the idea of taking multiple medications, especially when you’re first diagnosed and you go from no meds to all of a sudden, here I am on a on a handful of medications. It’s tough. I would love to manage people on just 1 or 2, but it is a complicated illness. You’re trying to prevent someone from going too high. You’re trying to prevent them from going too low. God forbid they have a comorbid anxiety disorder or something else going on, or we have to treat something else separately with a whole different medication. And it can feel it can feel very heavy. It can feel like a lot. It can feel like we’re guinea pigging you. That’s a common thing. It can feel like all those things. But it’s not easy. It’s very, very difficult.

Gabe: So just make sure I understand. You’re telling me that this myth has no merit. There’s not even a simple way at all that you’re hiding from us. I

Dr. Nicole: Yes. Yes.

Gabe: Mean, I can’t help but think of the conspiracy

Dr. Nicole: Yeah.

Gabe: Theory where you’ve got the magic pill and

Dr. Nicole: Yeah.

Gabe: You’re just not giving it to us so you can build a tennis court.

Dr. Nicole: I’m just not giving it to you because I. I’m just not giving it to you.

Gabe: It’s the tennis court. I’m telling it goes back to the tennis courts.

Dr. Nicole: No. It doesn’t. If I had the magic pill, I’d be wealthy, right? I could I could line up all of the bipolar people and just give them my magic pill, and everybody would be stable. It doesn’t exist that we don’t enjoy your instability. As a psychiatrist. I do not get any pleasure in people being unstable. I do not get pleasure when people come back and they tell me, yeah, I don’t feel any better or I feel worse, or I’m still not right. None of those things make me happy. I would love it if everybody who stepped into my office said, oh, I feel so much better. I’m great. Let’s just keep this rolling and I’ll see you in three months. I would love that. But that is not the reality of where we are.

Gabe: This is one of those myths that I honestly don’t know where it came from, but one of the places where I think that it might have come from is that, you know, like, for example, I’ve been in recovery for a long time and I’ve sort of got a rinse and repeat kind of deal going. My, my appointments with my Dr. Nicole go pretty well. I haven’t made many changes in a long time. And the changes that I make, because I’m used to the changes, because I’ve gone through changes before, because I’ve been in recovery for almost 20 years, they tend to go pretty smoothly now. People like me, we tend to be more verbal about our illness and we say things like, oh yeah, I went to my doctor last week and I only go every six months and people are like, oh, well, that’s pretty simple, right? And I, as we’ve talked about on this show before, I’m doing a disservice. I’m not talking about the day I was diagnosed and how I was going to the doctor every 4 to 6 weeks, my Dr. Nicole and I, we got to know each other very, very well. My first two, three, four years of diagnosis. So I think a lot of the stories that are out there when you’re hearing about people with bipolar disorder, it goes back to what we talked about in our “The Ugly and Gritty Side of Bipolar.” We’re perhaps misleading the public accidentally by

Gabe: Giving them a rose-colored glasses version of it. So I just want to be clear. It’s a myth that it’s easy to treat bipolar disorder. Hard stop.

Dr. Nicole: Absolutely. Hard to stop. Yes.

Gabe: Here’s another myth. Let’s, let’s. I’ve

Dr. Nicole: Oh, keep them coming.

Gabe: Lost count. I think this is myth number four.

Dr. Nicole: I think it’s number. It’s number. Is it three? I thought it was number three.

Gabe: I think it’s number four.

Dr. Nicole: Okay. [Laughter]

Gabe: I don’t know, the audience is going to let us know which one of us is right. Are you ready?

Dr. Nicole: [Laughter] Okay, I’m ready.

Gabe: Myth number four, medication is the only treatment for bipolar disorder. That’s it. There’s medication. If you have bipolar disorder, your only treatment option is medication.

Dr. Nicole: Yeah. That’s not true. That that is that could that just could not. Yeah. No not true, not true. Not true. Not true.

Sponsor Break

Gabe: And we’re back discussing common myths about bipolar disorder.

Dr. Nicole: Absolutely. We need to be using everything in the arsenal. Every tool in the toolbox. And medication is just one of them.

Gabe: I think medication is very important, but I have a little story I tell when people ask what the most important treatment for bipolar disorder is.

Dr. Nicole: I’m shocked that you have a story.

Gabe: I. You’re shocked?

Dr. Nicole: I am. I’m shocked that you have a story.

Gabe: How long have we been working together, Dr. Nicole?

Dr. Nicole: Go right ahead. I’m shocked that you have a story.

Gabe: All right. All right. so I really think the question is like asking you what the most important utility in your house is. You know, is it water? Is it gas, is it electric? Is it internet? Right. The answer to the question is, the most important utility in your house is the one that’s not working. You want them all. You’re not willing to accept a house that is missing heat. You’re not willing to accept a house that’s missing electricity. You’re not willing to accept a house that can’t get internet. You want them all. And the one that rises to the top is the one that’s not working. So I do think that medication is important. I don’t want anybody to hear that it’s not. But the most important thing is the one that’s not working. So if you’re stable on medication, but you have zero coping skills, if you’re stable on medication, but you’re being stigmatized constantly, if you’re stable on medication but you have no support, people who you can talk to about your experiences, then suddenly the most important treatment option becomes those areas that you’re missing. And I really want people to focus on that because medication kind of sucks a lot of the conversation up. Again, I’m not saying that medication is not important, I’m just saying that it’s not the only thing. And we often don’t talk about things like therapy, support groups, peer support, coping skills, reframing techniques radical acceptance, personal accountability, and trauma. We never talk about those things, and

Dr. Nicole: Okay.

Gabe: I think it’s vital that we do.

Dr. Nicole: I do think all those things are important, but I will say, I do think medicine is the most important for a person who has bipolar disorder. So I don’t necessarily think, going back to your house analogy, I don’t necessarily think it’s always what’s not working at the time, because I think it doesn’t matter if your lights are working, if your foundation is about to fall apart. And to me, when you have bipolar disorder, this is the foundation we have to keep your mood stable for you to even be able to work on the other things. It doesn’t matter if you have coping skills, if you’re floridly manic because your medication isn’t right. It doesn’t matter if you have yoga available to you three times a week and you have all these things, if you’re not stable enough to use them because your medication isn’t right. So I think the medication is more of the foundational piece. And then everything else is, is what makes it nice and fancy and keeps it going and looking good and smelling good and all those great and wonderful things.

Gabe: Are you telling me, Dr. Nicole, that a patient living with bipolar disorder and a board-certified psychiatrist who treats bipolar disorder don’t see eye to eye on everything? How can that be?

Dr. Nicole: Especially medicine. Right. That’s shocking.

Gabe: Right?

Dr. Nicole: That medicine is the is the thing that we don’t see eye to eye on. And, I mean, of course, I’m a psychiatrist. Of course, I think the medicine is important, but. I don’t know. I mean, do you think that’s right? Do you think I’m wrong? Do you think that medicine is not, like, maybe a little more important than those other things? Because if it is right, it allows the other things to happen.

Gabe: No, I don’t think you’re wrong at all. I think this is a case where two things can be true. Where I want to address the myth is, I think that so many people think that all they need to do is focus on medication, and they’ll be fine.

Gabe: Let’s utilize your foundation theory. Right. Let’s say that you have this beautiful foundation, but there’s nothing sitting on your house. There’s no walls. There’s there’s

Dr. Nicole: Mm-hmm.

Gabe: No beautiful cabinetry there. There’s no 85-inch television, right? There’s just this beautiful, strong, stable foundation. In fact, it’s

Dr. Nicole: Mm-hmm.

Gabe: The greatest foundation of any foundation ever made. Nobody’s really going to care that you’re living on a concrete slab. And that’s where I really want to address this myth that medication is the only

Dr. Nicole: Mm-hmm.

Gabe: Treatment, because I see so many people that you’re absolutely right, Dr. Nicole. They have a beautiful foundation, but they’re not able to move past that. They’re not able to get their walls up. They’re not able to get their big screen TV on the wall. They’re not able to build their their beautiful gourmet kitchen and host all their foodie friends. And I want to make sure that everybody understands that if all you’re doing is focusing all your energy on the medication, you’re not going to get well. And in that way, I think you and I are super aligned. And I think that’s the most important part.

Dr. Nicole: Absolute medicine is not the only answer. I do think it does lay the foundation for the ability to do those other things. But you’re right. I think you do yourself a disservice when you get to that stable point of, well, I’m not manic. I’m not depressed. I’m just kind of existing at this, this normal, this normal space. But then we want the bells and whistles. We want the fancy stuff. I want you to go from just surviving, which is what I think sometimes the medicine does. It helps you to survive. It helps you to get to the space where you can survive bipolar disorder. But now I want you to move on to thriving. I want you to get the fancy, beautiful cabinetry, as you said, and your big screen TV and all the sconces and accessories and all those things like, we want all the fancy stuff. And that is where I think the other things come into place, and they have the ability to just really take you from this space of, I’m just surviving with bipolar disorder to now. I am thriving with this thing and I am showing it what I can do.

Gabe: I love that, and I want the audience to know that Dr. Nicole really loves her kitchen.

Dr. Nicole: I do.

Gabe: And I really love my big screen TV.

Dr. Nicole: I do love my kitchen.

Gabe: So that’s why I use those two examples. You know, let’s move on to myth number five. And myth number five is that bipolar disorder is caused by some external source. It’s caused by something that you did wrong or something that somebody did to you. So whether it’s a drug and alcohol abuse, substance abuse or bad decisions that you made or bad parenting, something that happened to you or a traumatic event that the only reason that you have bipolar disorder is because some external factor, whether it’s a bad decision that you made or a bad decision that was made for you, caused bipolar disorder. And I really want to address that, because this creates this idea in people’s heads when they have bipolar disorder, that either they made the wrong decision and this is a consequence of their action, or somebody wronged them. And neither one of those things is true. Although here’s where it probably gets a little tricky. Those external forces, bad decisions, or bad things happening to you can certainly exacerbate bipolar disorder, which is where I think this this myth sort of has its foundations in.

Dr. Nicole: Yeah. When you think about those textbook cases, the, the, the person who experiences some big traumatic event and then they have their first episode, they have their first break, as we might call it. The person who goes off to college and is not sleeping and partying and doing a little bit too much, kind of wilding out in college. And then they have their first episode. I think that’s where those things come from. And we 100% know that a stressor of that magnitude can absolutely be what leads to your first episode. But we also think the genes were already there. The ground was already fertile for that to happen. It was just a matter of when. When were the circumstances, when were the stars going to align just so that it happened? That’s the part that we don’t know. So I think that is probably where that came from. People know that when you do, when you do experience really big things, stressful things in life, we see people have these episodes and then we think, well, that has to be the cause. But the ground is there, the ground is there, it’s fertile. The circumstance, the soil is ripe for that to happen. It just so happens to be that that big thing is, is, is what allows that to kind of see its, see its potential.

Gabe: You know, as we as we get to the end of the show and we wrap all this up, what people really should be learning is that one of the myths is that bipolar disorder is well understood. It wasn’t on our list. I was just sitting here thinking about it and thinking, wow, I think there’s a myth that bipolar disorder is this well understood, well thought out, well researched, well-established illness and all the Dr. Nicoles of the world have all of the answers at their disposal, and all of the Gabes of the world have all of the resources at their disposal. And if we could just come together, everybody would live happily ever after. So this is a bonus myth that bipolar disorder is just well understood. I don’t think it’s as well understood as the general public believes that it is.

Dr. Nicole: Yeah, it’s definitely an art in some ways, and I think people want it to be just as exact as other areas of medicine. It would be lovely if I could just draw a bipolar level and see where your level was, or I could just draw a bipolar panel and do blood work and we could say, oh yes, it looks like you have bipolar one or oh no, it looks like you have bipolar two. I would love that. We just are not there in psychiatry, and I don’t know that we’ll ever be there specifically. We’re still doing research on what genes are there and what what’s implicated in bipolar disorder. And if you have it, does it mean that you’ll get bipolar disorder? And how do we interpret all this knowledge that we’re getting every day? We still have no idea where we’re going to end up and where we’re going to land on this thing. But we know more than we did 20 years ago. Right? So I think that’s promising. But to think that we know everything there is to know about bipolar disorder, which would be a dangerous idea to adopt for sure.

Gabe: That is very well said, Dr. Nicole. Now, obviously there’s just so many myths out there. I mean, we could spend all day covering myths, and one of the big ones that kind of didn’t make it into the show, but we want to touch on, is that that people with bipolar disorder can’t be successful. We have done other episodes on this and we will no doubt do future episodes on this, but it was very important to Dr. Nicole and I, more so Dr. Nicole, honestly, that we cover this because it’s important to let everybody know that people with bipolar disorder can be very successful.

Dr. Nicole: It is because people will get the diagnosis, or a parent will find out that their young adult is being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and immediately they have this sense of, oh, you know, all of the hopes and dreams I had for my loved one’s future are gone. You know, they’re not going to be able to attain a certain level of success. And I just think it’s important to remind people that that is not necessarily true. But being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, especially today, should not be a death sentence. It should not be that. It just takes away all of your dreams. If your idea of success is growing up and have a family and getting married and having children and having a career, those things can still happen with bipolar disorder. And that’s why we are always pushing. Get in treatment early, stay in treatment like don’t fall in and out, let’s get you stable and keep you stable as long as we can because we know that you can be successful. I take care of doctors and lawyers and very successful people who have bipolar disorder, and they’re doing pretty well. They’re really killing it. Do they have to make some adjustments? 100%? Do they have to make some lifestyle changes that maybe their peers are not making 100%? But at the end of it all, it is always worth it for them to be able to see their dreams realized and to be able to have the success that they thought they would have.

Gabe: Should I be sad that you didn’t use me as an example? Just

Dr. Nicole: Oh, my.

Gabe: I mean, just just throwing that out there. Like, I work with doctors and lawyers and very successful people with bipolar disorder. And I’m like, I’m like sitting here awkwardly waving.

Dr. Nicole: Oh, and Gabe and Gabe and I work with Gabe and he’s very successful. But I do think that brings up the point of success is going to look different for different people. The idea of having to go through medical school or law school for you might sound like the most painful thing ever, but the idea of being able to kill it as a as a podcaster and to have a fulfilling life might absolutely sound like what success looks like. So again, staying in your own lane, rowing your own boat, minding your own, worrying about yourself, what does your success look like rather than comparing yourself to other people?

Gabe: I completely agree with that, Dr. Nicole. Now we have another myth that we actually, we spent a little bit of time discussing. We decided that it was going to get an entire show and it’s geared towards our loved ones. But I really hope that the people living with bipolar disorder will tune in as well, or at the very least, encourage their loved ones to listen if they agree with the content that’s coming up. So that’s the very next episode. But that myth is and I’ve lost count and it would get a new number anyways, but it’s that there’s nothing that you can do to help a loved one who has bipolar disorder. And this is just such a huge myth because family members support systems, society in general, the people around us can have a huge, huge impact and influence on our recovery if they do the right things. We decided that that was a very nuanced conversation, so we’re going to cover it next time.

Dr. Nicole: Yeah, I’m looking forward to that one because like I said, loved ones. Y’all are all up in my DMs all the time. So this is for you.

Gabe: I’m a little bit worried that they’re not hitting me up.

Dr. Nicole: [Laughter]

Gabe: I mean, they don’t want to talk to me. What?

Dr. Nicole: Well,

Gabe: I’m just. I’m. Hmm. Hmm.

Dr. Nicole: I rarely get messages from people who actually have bipolar disorder, so they also don’t want to talk to me, which makes sense.

Gabe: You know that. That is true. I just noticed that you’re right. The loved ones hit you up and people living with bipolar disorder hit me up. So, hey, listen, you can switch that up, or you can hit up show at PsychCentral.com and you will get both of us. We absolutely read all of the emails. We absolutely get all of the show topics and we hope you will continue sending those our way. They absolutely inform the direction of the show. All right everybody, that’s our show for today. Thank you so much for tuning in. And we need some favors. Wherever you downloaded this episode, please follow or subscribe to the show. It is absolutely free and next, recommend the show. Recommend it in a support group. Recommended online. Recommended on Reddit. Recommended in forums. Recommended on social media. Hell, send somebody an email or a text because sharing the show with the people you know is how we’re going to grow. All right, everybody, my name is Gabe Howard, and I’m an award-winning public speaker, and I could be available for your next event. I also wrote the book “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations,” which you can get wherever they sell books. However, if you want to get a signed copy with some free swag, just hit me up over at my website gabehoward.com.

Dr. Nicole: And I’m Dr. Nicole. You can find me on all social media platforms @DrNicolePsych to see all the things I have my hand in at any given moment.

Gabe: And we will see you next time on Inside Bipolar.

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