I’m Damaged. I’m Bipolar. Love Me. Save Me.

June 14, 2010 Natasha Tracy

Last night, I watched Crazy for Love a very bad movie wherein a man, Max, is put into a mental hospital for attempting suicide for the tenth time. When he’s there, he glimpses a very ill, schizophrenic, Grace, whereupon he instantaneously falls in love with her. She too is determined to kill herself. His life’s mission then is to “make her better”. To “make her happy”. Having found his new mission in life, he no longer wants to kill himself.

Well, pin a rose on his nose.
White Knight

The White Knight Syndrome

The white knight syndrome typically occurs in men and is characterized by being attracted to, and needing to save, someone in distress. This is not so bad if it leads to someone helping you pick up your groceries after the paper bag broke, but in mental illness circles, it’s very bad news indeed.

I’m Damaged

We’ve all seen them. They’re the friends and lovers who will read every book on the illness. Suggest every treatment. Buy you supplements and “cure-alls” over the internet, and swear that this Native Shaman they found can fix anything. These people are endlessly hopeful every time you try a new medication or therapy, absolutely positive that this is going to work, and then are endlessly crushed when again, it does not. Their zeal to cure you, little by little, encroaches into their life until the only life they have is saving you. Your illness becomes their reason for living.

Love Me

This leads to all kinds of unfortunate interaction. You feel constantly pressured to “get better”. To make a treatment work. The two of you are inexorably intertwined and probably “in love”. You know that every failure is going to crush your White Knight and so you are scared to admit them. The White Knight then gets eaten alive with the reality that you’re just not going to get better. No matter what he, or anyone else does, you will remain sick.

Save Me

Unfortunately, this knowledge notwithstanding; I want to be saved.

I have lain on the hard wooden floor of my apartment more times than I care to count, begging for someone to save me. I want someone in white, on his trusty steed, to pick me up, fling me over his shoulder, and take me away to where the disease doesn’t exist. I beg for someone to handle all the treatment details that I can’t. I beg for someone to hold the hope I don’t have. I wish for someone to know the magic Shaman that will make me better.

Fail Me

But, of course, I understand, as most of us do, that there is no such thing as a white knight. There is no one who is going to save you. You’re sick. And you’re probably going to stay that way. The person who helps you is much more likely to be wearing a white lab coat instead of white armor.

If You Love Your White Knight, Set Him Free

I’m sorry to break it to you, but you are the only one who can make you better. You have to do the work, see the doctors, do the therapy. Your disease is not a school project. You are not a damsel in distress. You are strong, and powerful, and you are fighting this disease with both fists. If your knight would like to help, all the better, but there’s just no “saving” to be had. Your white knight will have to learn to get used to disappointment. And you and I will just have to start accepting that the suite of gleaming, white armor I keep in the corner, will never be put to good use.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2010, June 14). I’m Damaged. I’m Bipolar. Love Me. Save Me., HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

October, 26 2014 at 2:42 am

The meaning of recovery from the Australian National Mental Health Stsndards is something like this "recovery is living a meaningful life with or without symptoms".
In that sense you are leading a meaningful life by writing blogs that help people.
While I know no other person can "save me" I have a wonderful support network consisting of family and friends. I am engaged to a man who doesn't try to change me, and loves me dispite my 'negative thinking' lol. Bipolar doesn't mean you can't find love many people I know with bipolar have wonderful marriages, but I don't want to be involved with someone who wants to cure me. I want a relationship where we can have children together and be friends and have wildly fantastic sex and that is good enough. People who need to save someone need therapy themselves.

May, 10 2013 at 8:37 pm

oops! supposed to have said she is trying to get people to see :)

May, 10 2013 at 8:35 pm

Clare - it's not a victim mentality. Bipolar is a chronic illness that cannot be cured at this point (the prognosis is, in fact, that it tends to get worse over time) but that it can be treated. Natasha doesn't urge anyone to be weak - she said something to the effect of 'you are strong') - she is trying to people who suffer form this illness - and belirve me if you have a mood disorder you will suffer - unfortunate but true!) to see that they need to be responsible for their own health and not wait for a romantic hero whilest languishing. She is urging people to be their own hero. It's very easy with psychotic illnesses to let one's imagination and brain power run away with one into a land of fantasy. This is all well and good for writing poetry illness screenplays comedy and fiction and for doing drama but it doesn't work very well. In this case the fantasy is where someone will swoop in and fix things but on the ground people run away in terror and 'fixers' expect the disease will magically go away. they don't have the disorder so they just don't get it. Sure you get relapses but it's CHRONIC. When you don't get better the rescuers usually end up guilting you over still being ill. Sometimes you can get guilted into shirking self-care. I have psychotic depression and several good friends with either that or bipolar so I know as I've been there. It doesn't help. Then the friends leave and you feel guilty that you didn't magically heal. They didn't magically cure you. These people are on some kind of weird subconscious ego trip to think they could cure you. Care for you - yes. Cure? No. Only minding one's health and finding a supportive lifestyle will help alleiviate it - short of a miracle.

May, 2 2013 at 5:11 pm

A lively discussion over 3 years of time; that's impressive. I think its subject, the patient mentality, is one of tremendous importance, and it's one that this posting and following discussion highlight as being a difficult balance to maintain:
*A balance between knowing that only I can help myself and the necessity of accepting support from others
*A balance between knowing that my mental outlook directly influences how well a treatment works and knowing that it's not the only thing that does
*A balance between knowing what my limitations are, working positively within them and reaching either extreme: having too positive an outlook and having no positive outlook. What we want is something I've heard described as "optimistic realism." I don't recall by whom.
Anyways, that's my two cents for now. Tahtah.

April, 7 2013 at 7:57 am

I write this not to be mean or try to single you out, however I am a 34 year old woman who suffers from bipolar. I have been on every cocktail you can think of and finally have found something that gives me some relief. So to say you can "cure" bipolar to me is just a rediculous notion. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain that can be controlled however never cured.

Phil Jordan
March, 29 2013 at 8:35 am

"I have lain on the hard wooden floor of my apartment more times than I care to count, begging for someone to save me."
If you're still looking I can do this Natasha! Children of Alcoholics are attracted to people we can save or rescue. I've learned the hard way more than once. I've hardly know a relationship that didn't get bizarre. If I was in a good relationship I had no idea how to function.

Michael C,
March, 22 2013 at 2:58 am

I think that this post should be rewritten or have a disclaimer attached. My girlfriend suffers from bipolar and the negativity of the disorder is a huge problem for her. I try to be positive but I'm realistic. If she doesn't get better or has lengthy times of depression or mania I don't want her to feel like I'm going to bail. I'm in for life. I don't expect miracles. I don't want people to dismiss their support systems because they feel they are too much of an inconvenience on them or whatever negative thought they have like that. Maybe it should be written that the person with bipolar lets that person know what they have in store for them in the future and let them decide if they are able to accept that they may never get better. I understand the situation and I accept what goes along with it. The ups and the downs. I just want to be there. I know I can't cure her. Like that line in Silver Linings Playbook. "She is her best self today and I am my best self today and that okay". 'Best' meaning best for the moment not best of all time.

Tina Horan
February, 17 2013 at 8:53 am


May, 7 2012 at 7:08 am

My bipolar disorder used to be a condition I could live well with, on the right meds. Well-controlled. I didn't need therapy. I just took the pills, kept my appointments, lived my life, and I did fine.
Then I slipped down some stairs and rattled my brain in my skull--got a mild concussion. After that, I had some exec. function problems I hadn't had before, and they had to mess around with my medication, and I wasn't really quite so functional, and I had a lot of adjusting to do, but I adjusted.
Then I had a trauma and a divorce and got PTSD, and my ability to function pretty much collapsed for several years, and is still collapsed, and I've been going to therapy and am only now getting some function back but still can't work, may not ever be able to work. Or might. Don't know.
I guess how I would respond to a view of high-function bipolar disorder like Claire's is that the longer someone lives with bipolar disorder, the more chance they have of having some kind of secondary event like a severe physical illness, a close personal loss, a head trauma, becoming the victim of a crime, witnessing a trauma, an abusive relationship or whatever add a complication to their initial diagnosis.
As we age, more and more goes wrong with our bodies and more and more happens to us and we accumulate damage. Over time, it becomes more and more likely that rather than living well despite our condition, our accumulation of complications will drag us into disability.
We used to think that mental health research was expanding the forefront of knowledge so fast that there might even be a cure in our lifetimes. They really don't seem to be making any progress on the forefront of preventing brain damage, much less repairing it.
Then again, maybe there's all sorts of wicked cool military research out there about regrowing zombie brains that I've never heard of. Braaaiiinnnzzzz. We can hope, eh? Zombies: Weird food cravings, thorazine shuffle, but not scared of the dark.

June, 15 2011 at 7:30 pm

Ouch...but a very true and very timely post

May, 12 2011 at 12:06 pm

Sophia, run. I love my wife and 4 kids and while sometimes they keep me grounded, others they unknowning prevent me from getting the more intense care that I need. The life that I have given my wife is one I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. So if you boyfriend left, let him go. Consider it the ultimate act of love for you. remember it, but move on!

May, 12 2011 at 11:59 am

Claire, do you have Bipolar? If not, I find it interesting that you are going on about treatment and remission when you don't have first hand knowledge of the illness. If you do, then please let me know who you are seeing so I can cure mine as well.
I've had bipolar disorder for 20 years, diagnosed for 9. I've been to 4 different doctors, 5 theorpists and been on every regimine known to man. All that and while my highs and lows are mostly tolerable, when the meds stop working all Hell breaks out. Pessimisim you say. A life of Bipolar leaves one praying to stay in control. Hoping beyond hope that I haven't passed this curse to my children.

jeff lucas
January, 12 2011 at 9:35 am

Bravo, Bob the Chef. I admire the chutspah and you have some keen insights into certain facets of human behavior but we all cant live in, or with, relationships based on Nietzchean ideals. I fully understand your - th'no savior on the way' = position and agree; with a modification; Yes, some of the religious among us are waiting for supernatural help while those of a more liberal bent are waiting for humankind to develop into a mature society. right now, how ever our moral compasses are all over the map. I was raised in a modest family with a strong work ethic as well as strong emphisis on responsiblity. At age 27 some thing hit me that I didn't even see coming. Me and my parents examples of responsiblity, self-relial and thrift did not make us good prognosticators, these were the symptoms of an aniety pattern that we were born into. They distrusted everything including religion. Its no ones fault, niether is it mine or theirs.
what I'm saying is there was plenty of tuff in our tough love for each other but little compassion when and where it was needed. I was the one who stumbled, but I picked myself up with a lot of help from persons out side the family as well as from within. That out side help and interpersonal connection would not have been possible without the concept of mental ilness; bipolar in my case. As much as it is a stigma, it is community of people, with similar issues. I do resent the joint decision made to medicate my self, but it was conventional wisdom at the time. In closing I would not doubt an inborn element is some what involved in Bipolar disorder. I think that it can be mitigated somewhat be preparing our children for contingency. Give them a spiritual center along with that open mind; its a strength that may come in handy later. Jeff

Bob the Chef
January, 12 2011 at 8:20 am

* Claire. Did you read the article? Did you even read it? Your first post is obnoxious. She says there is no White Knight who will save her, and she's right. There is no such thing. There is no savior. We're all merely human, and now one of us is in a better position to fix anything.
Personally, I don't believe in bipolar disorder in the medicate it sense, or the psychoanalysis sense. Some hint that it has to do with a subconscious "running from" something, and so what can be better that flailing around in avoidance of that void at the heart of reality? It's a convenient distraction.
So in short, no, no one can save anyone, and denying that is merely a form of enabling a vile fairy tale that keeps people stuck in profound stupidity. Yes, it's a flaw in thinking, a flaw which is rooted in vanity (concerned with what others think of you, assessing your own value in terms of what others think of you), laziness, weakness of will and spirit, and the bizarre believe that you need saving, which you don't. We're been raised in the trapping of a hug-me/feed-me/save-me/coddle-me culture which is then fallaciously identified with love. NO!! Love is not compassion, love is not coddling. Love is doing what is escapism, love is comforting. Love is a challenge. Loving someone entails doing what is best for them, and sometimes, that something is painful, brutal and harsh. A white knight isn't generous, as some spin doctors like to cook up. White knights are completely selfish, and get off on having a feeling of superiority over their needy victim. And if that white knight sees improvement, and thus less need for him, he'll use subtle ways to sabotage the other's progress. They might not even be aware of their sabotaging techniques because they're so ingrained in their subconscious habits. Jettison that white knight! Have the courage to admit that you're not fit, not ready, for a relationship now. It's not that important anyway, and if you disagree it's only because you're blinded by the inferiority lodged in your mind. The White Knight is a coward, because he is afraid of those who not need him. He might even possess a bit of an abandonment complex, and so chooses inferior needy women because they're less likely to leave. The White Knight is needy in a different way. A weakling.
Our culture sucks because it enables this nonsense. Marriage, relationships, are meant for the purpose of personal excellence, not wallowing and rotting away in a pile of physical, emotional and mental depravity.
You just need to understand this and stop catering to the illusion and the temptation of your illusive hope. Realize there is no relief. Starve that "hope". Deprive it. Don't feed that demon! Let is kick and scream inside you out of frustration! You will grow stronger for it. In due time, you will subordinate it to yourself, you will becomes master of your fate. You will look under the building to see the foundation, and see that all of this illusion. It's the illusion that you need fixing, and once you stop outside that trap of a box, you'll see how unnecessary all that pain and suffering was, what a huge waste of time, how silly and absurd it is, and how all that seemed to threaten you into it was illusive, non-existent, powerless, stupid, impotent, imaginary. Don't seek permission. Don't seem approval. Be master of your life, and cut everything and everyone off who interferes, who stands in your way. Expand and conquer!
Some inspiration might come from Russell's "Power" and Nietzsche. It might require you to abandon certain popular conceptions and ideas that our culture likes to present to use as necessary and absolute truths (none of them are), but don't be scared. You don't need that culture. You don't need that parasitic slave mentality dogging you. You can do it alone, and it'll be more glorious than you can imagine!
* Removed by moderator. Everyone is reminded to be respectful of each other.

December, 30 2010 at 4:27 pm

Okay, i am probably a White knight, I constantly help my GF through things, I help her make decisions, and i would do anything should she ask. There is no problem with this. I do not control her. She is a Damaged, Indecisive girl whom i love. we fit together perfectly. White Knight Syndrome is not a problem, only if excessive. I have many traits of each Sub-type of White Knight. But i am not Ill or Sick, I am myself and that is all. So don't try and tell me I'm sick just because I'm not the same as everyone else, Because being different is what you should strive for every day.

December, 27 2010 at 10:35 pm

My boyfriend has bipolar disorder. After we have been together five months, he told me that he is ill, he found he has the disease ten months ago. Then he wants to break up with me, because he believed that he is a damaged man, he can't make me happy anymore. He told me that we will never has the chance to live a happy life. He refuses to take meds. He has taken a lot of different medicines, but none has cured him. Although he has a psychiatrist, psychotherapy is the only treatment he can accept now. i don't konw how to do. i love him so much, but he absolutely refuses me. He doesn't want to draw me down. I am damagedfee, too, l feel so helpless, and I do want to help him work it out.

Natasha Tracy
August, 20 2010 at 5:49 am

Hi Holly,
Not to worry, a bipolar diagnosis isn't required to comment :)
I think the concept of a "white knight" resonates for many people, ill or not. Just think about when you're behind in bills or in a terrible mess at work, at moments in those situations people want to be rescued too. It's just natural response when we feel desperate.
I appreciate anyone who appreciates honesty. Thanks for sharing.
- Natasha

Holly Gray
August, 19 2010 at 7:47 pm

Hi Natasha,
I don't have Bipolar Disorder. In fact, the prognosis for my mental illness is often quite good. So I hope you don't mind me commenting.
Though I don't have BP your post resonates with me. I often feel like my disorder makes me fascinating to other people, usually people who favor wounded birds. And the idea of being taken care of is sometimes so very tempting. While there is a very good chance that I'll fully recover, I'm not there yet. And the struggle wearies me, depletes my resources and often leaves me feeling "less than." That is when the White Knight becomes a temptation.
I admit I've given into that temptation many times. But like you said, no one can save me. No one but me. And allowing others to try when I know they won't succeed is unfair.
I also really appreciate your unwillingness to sugarcoat the reality of your disorder. The truth - my truth, I should say - is always better than a half-truth or a beautiful lie, I think.
Thanks, Natasha.

Natasha Tracy
August, 19 2010 at 2:10 pm

I think those two points are great. Thanks for chiming in.
- Natasha

August, 19 2010 at 1:57 pm

Strap yourself in buddy. It's going to be a bumpy ride. I can relate. The "manic" phase can have you and your wife enjoying the best sex of your life or having you watching from afar when the "greener grass" partners have been roped in and you're just a memory she wants to forget for awhile. It will feel like one minute she doesn't want to live without you and the next she can't get to the "replacements" fast enough.
Your wife is ill. Mentally ill.
I wish I could tell you the cure is simple; just take X amount of Seroquel each day, go to a therapist 3 times a wk, eat well, sleep well and eliminate as much stress as possbile and everything will work out.
Sorry I can't. I've heard suggestions from run away as fast as you can to don't ever give up. My 17 yr hell had me walking away from my wife thinking I should have listened to my friends and family yrs ago and left that "crazy bitch". BP is a really cruel illness and what I've learned is the Medical community althou much more educated then 10 yrs ago is wrestling with an epidemic. I dont know who tainted the water 30 yrs ago or what is causing the surge but you'll learn and see really fast this is no small problem.
Best advise I can offer is 1) If your going to stick around and be part of the fight.....take care of yourself FIRST, you're no good to anyone unless you are at your best. Put the horse, the knight outfit and the superman underwear away. and 2) Don't take things personally. All the way down to the infidelity. She's ill. It's the illness controlling alot of what she does. Beleive me, she would get off the ride if she had a choice.
Best of luck

Natasha Tracy
June, 30 2010 at 7:11 pm

Hi Travis,
Take a breath.
You and your wife are in a tough spot, no doubt, but now that she's getting the help that she needs, things can get better.
First, I just want to mention that manic depression is the same thing as bipolar disorder. What will happen is she'll be given a diagnosis of bipolar I, II, or NOS (assuming you're in North America, other countries are very similar). If her highs are extremely high as you describe them, it's likely bipolar I, but a doctor can determine this.
Yes, medications can take a very long time to be found and to work. You could be in for a year or two of searching. That's the cold, hard truth. But there are things you can do right now. You should definitely get as much support around both of you as possible. You can look into support groups for her and for you. You are the spouse of a crazy person, that's hard, but others are going through it too, and you can connect in a support group.
Therapy is an integral part of getting better. Studies show that mental illness is far more successfully treated when it's done with meds and therapy together. There are different types of therapy, but for now, try to find someone who is an expert in working with bipolar. You might need some therapy together too to try and repair your relationship together.
And there are lots of books on the subject, and free information online. You should learn from credible sources about what you're facing, and then discuss options and questions with her and her doctor.
This is tough, but it doesn't necessarily mean the end of your marriage. I can't say you'll stay together or you won't, but you both have choices. Bipolar doesn't have to make them for you.
Good luck. Come by any time.
- Natasha

June, 30 2010 at 6:41 pm

Hello All I am catching up and since My wife has just been diagnosed BP and I dont for sure know which one yet, we think manic depression. I need all the help I can get. We have had a rough way to go, and in this case I guess I would be the white knight I try to fix her problems and in most cases I win, but in this one I lose every time. You see we been seperated 7 months this time, last time it was like 3 months. Always there is a second party involved in her case. And she leaves me for what she thinks is "greener grass", until now i had no real clue what I was doing that was so wrong I work hard, I provide as best I can and I believe in every effort she gives. Now that being said I have made my share of mistakes and take full blame really for the first seperation and over the last 4yrs made ammends for every action I had made or influenced in some cases. We both made alot of bad decisions as a young married couple, she is 29 and I am 33 currently. Married 9 1/2 years at this point. Now this last seperation has been somewhat of a dooms day device so to speak, alot happened in a very short time, i beleive she went manic (now that im learning the words to put with the actions) she started activly looking for a "replacement" I seen this happen once before so i recognized the pattern, I told her of her actions she put it off on me being controlling and jealous still from the last time it had happened, I changed the thoughts I let her control herself and sat and watched this ended up being the match for the fuse, she became obsessed with being with this person who i have learned is twice as controlling and way more jealous. Well on with my question, I love my WIFE, I always have and always will. I can forgive and hopefully in time forget the most of what has happened, but I have to learn to help her deal with this. I need advice. Can we save a marriage and find the woman I fell in love with. She is very high spirited and battling this without meds, at the moment they are still trying to find the right meds for her. I just need something to go on here. I see alot of good replys and alot of good advice. please help me and "us" find an beginning to the end of the pain and hurt.

June, 25 2010 at 9:03 pm

This is gonna be my favourite

Natasha Tracy
June, 19 2010 at 9:33 am

Hi Claire, thanks, that's a good link. Interesting reading. I'm not sure I agree with all of it, but worth a read.
I'll write about what I think about hope, sometime, but let's just say we have a rocky relationship.
- Natasha

June, 19 2010 at 5:44 am

Hi Claire Wallace,
That’s a good link and citing on your part. John is one of those long-time fine mental health writers and bloggers that also succinctly have the ability to address and express their personal issues while still encouraging others.
Unlike these capable writers I kind of trudge and sum up this issue by crudely referring to “education, hope and persistence”.
Who really knows “the truth” other than we can’t stop trying?

Claire Wallace
June, 18 2010 at 8:43 pm

Hi Natasha,
check this out, thought you might be interested
You know the old saying goes something like 'if you think you can or you think you can't you're probably right' so it always pays to keep an open mind. There's a lot of research being done in this area, so don't give up! You're obviously a fighter xoxoxo

Natasha Tracy
June, 18 2010 at 9:05 am

Dave, it sound like you're doing well and taking a lot of positive steps. There's nothing better than that.
- Natasha

June, 18 2010 at 8:09 am

I can appreciate everyone's insight on this complex issue. But as Natasha says "WE are all different" , with different chemical makeups. What works for one will probably not work for another. But we have to keep on trying, we can't just give up. I've had my share of hospitalizations and different medicine cocktails, and it gets really frustrating. But I am committed and determined to get better. Right now, I am doing fairly well. I take my meds, I am enrolling in a bipolar group just for patients and my wife and I are starting a couples therapy group next week. Knowledge is power, the more you know about your disease, the better equipped you are to handle it. Good luck to you all and may God Bless You.

Natasha Tracy
June, 16 2010 at 4:04 pm

Well written Herb.
We _are_all_different_ and it simply is a fact that what works for one will not work for another.
I would never suggest that a person stop doing what works for them, but I would also never suggest that just because something works for me, it _will_ work for them.
And finally, I represent a huge group of people who just _aren't_getting_better. And it isn't our fault. We're sick. Everyday. That's our life. Many bipolars aren't in that group. But I am. Period.
- Natasha

June, 16 2010 at 3:53 pm

Dear Claire,
“I’m somewhat disturbed by the hopelessness that you feel about your illness being projected onto everyone else with bipolar. The truth is, you CAN have recovery, you CAN have remission, and bipolar does NOT have to be viewed as a sickness or an illness.” --- Claire
I read your posting with interest as I have of others for more than a decade that I have participated on Internet forums such as this. As a very, very long-time support person to my spouse and as her health care advocate I can well appreciate your thoughts and position but also as a former DBSA President, Board Member and facilitator I was trained to share my knowledge and experiences from the first person singular, “I” and to avoid using the word “you” as in you can or you should or you are wrong etc. To start with it tends to be less confrontational.
With that in mind and with my experiences of more than 4 decades I don’t know for sure what the “truth is” but I do believe that my endorsing patient and/or support person education and encouraging hope and persistence that recovery may be possible along with periods of longer term remissions.
From my experiences I have read of benefit from non-invasive approaches to wellness such as holistic therapies as well as talk therapies. Others have indicated benefit from combinations of talk therapy and medications and yet there is this unique population of patients often suffering for decades with little to no efficacy from any of the conventional therapies of which my spouse at one time or another utilized.
So as much as you describe your thinking abilities aiding with your recovery, 3 decades of my spouse’s experiences; talk and holistic therapies, medications and other treatments only validate for me the fact that each individual is unique and dynamic and what may work for one does not mean it will work for another.
No therapy at the time could undo her self-deprecating thoughts and/or suicidal ideations or worse yet and in her case prevent 9 suicide attempts. I’m sorry to state that in her case history, talk therapy etc. proved of little or no value at the time.
Fast forward over these past 10 years with her current effective therapy and my spouse’s original mood disorder is absent and in long-term remission to which I’ll add Joyce is “Happy to be alive” and values both her life and existence despite other medical challenges.
The point being that from my knowledge and vantage point my spouse had no positive thinking or reasoning ability to control her mood state whereas the disorder had the greater control and so too Joyce’s incessant desire to end her enduring suffering, anguish and pain.
Where else in nature does one find one of the strongest instincts, the survival instinct, overcome by suicidal ideations and/or suicide?
I am happy for you and others like you who have achieved degrees of wellness and/or remissions through whatever means but the fact remains there are a relatively large number of individuals, who unlike my spouse, have yet to find their answer(s) to relative wellness.

June, 15 2010 at 11:43 pm

Kind of a strange disconnect here between "wanting someone to save you" and then denigrating people (I'm guessing mostly men) who actually try. Of course other people can't "save you", and if you just tell them that and they're adults and they understand...well, let them be there for you. They don't have to save you...there's nothing to be saved. There's this strange (to me) trend in the psychology of relationships these days where each partner is supposed to be totally self-sufficient and "happy alone" and then just happens to be in a relationship. That's ridiculous. People get together for very real reasons...they need each other, outside of all these categories and diagnoses and syndromes modern psychiatry or counselors are constantly creating. The idea is that everyone "deserves to be happy" and that if we only fine-tune all of our mental processes and be the perfect mate in a relationship, not asking too much or too little, that everything will be just great. It never works out like that, it's an imaginary concept. Ask your psychiatrist how well his or her relationship is going. No, people shouldn't concentrate on trying to "save" someone else, but those people who try to do so are children anyway and simply need to be taught the difference between fantasy and reality. It shouldn't be too hard a lesson. Why would anyone want to be "saved" anyway? How boring.

June, 15 2010 at 8:52 pm

Well put Claire. I like to believe we can have some control over our lives and thoughts not just succumb to an illness and victim mentality. I needed help years ago because I did not know I was "sick" but I just need care and assistance. I always hated the term sick because the term can truly trick you into thinking you are more sickly or ill then you actually are. I like the word impaired. Cognitively or sometimes perceptually impaired. It's just a fight we have to try to win to improve our lives and well being. Thank you for your posts.

June, 15 2010 at 6:52 pm

I used to ask myself the same question, and sometimes you are to ill to do almost anything beneficial for yourself - even think in a beneficial way because of the way it effects your thought processes and cognitions. But it is an episodic disorder and we have periods of being better and more capable in some periods than in others, and it's in these periods that it's important not to let having this disorder define you and control you and your destiny. It's really about how you view yourself. Yes we will always have to manage this. But it doesn't mean we can't have success and a level of fulfillment that others achieve in life. There are many successful people living with this. But they made the decision at some point that regardless of bipolar thy were still in control of their lives and not at it's mercy forever. It may mean redefining plans and goals to fit within the limitations this places on us, but we are the ones making the decisions to do or not do what is going to be beneficial for us. Every thought has a consequence. As long as we're thinking of this in a negative way and defining ourselves through the illness or dentifying ourselves as an illness or a sick or damaged person, we will only ever be sick or damaged and have a negative outcome. Instead try thinking of yourself as a normal regular person who manages a complex problem and has the ability to successfully live a happy and fulfilling life in spite of the problems it throws at you. Yes you will still have periods of unwellness, but how you choose to see yourself through that will depend on the ultimate outcome.

June, 15 2010 at 8:48 am

What exactly happens with your behavior and in your mind when you suffer the effects of this disorder?

June, 15 2010 at 4:31 am

My point was, with a victim's mentality, the rest of our efforts at managing and overcoming the challanges of bipolar (many of which you mentioned above) will never be enough.

June, 14 2010 at 7:38 pm

"We have to have a change in attitude, accept ourselves and live within our limitations, but we CAN and will overcome this problem of living if we approach it differently"
Oh claire, a problem of living? The problem of living are the consequences, the interaction between our disorder and our life. How it damages relationships and challenges our work and career. The bipolar disorder is biological. It is more like maintaining a chronic case of cancer. Lucky for me after 8 years I found a good cocktail. But some people try and try and remain treatment resistant. Bipolar is not a matter of attitude. Medication, therapy, fish oil, exercize, and sleep, all important for me. But I still remain bipolar. Yes, I manage my disorder. But many other BP are not as fortunate.

Natasha Tracy
June, 14 2010 at 4:24 pm

Hi Claire,
Certainly everyone with bipolar is different. I say that quite frequently. However, many people with bipolar really will be sick forever. I'm likely one of them. Many bipolars fight every day and their entire life and certainly don't live "like everyone else". I don't live even close to "like everyone else". I appreciate all those who do, but many of us don't.
The point of this piece is that it is too easy to get sucked into an illness that will be there forever. That might be bipolar, that might be depression, that might be something else entirely. And the point is that you can't save someone else. I can't be saved. No matter how wonderful the person, they can't do it. It's just a painful reality.
It's not hopeful, or hopeless. It's just reality.
- Natasha

June, 14 2010 at 3:51 pm

Hi There,
I'm somewhat disturbed by the hoplessness that you feel about your illness being projected onto everyone else with bipolar. The truth is, you CAN have recovery, you CAN have remission, and bipolar does NOT have to be viewed as a sickness or an illness. A person with bipolar does not have to view themselves as a patient. This takes away ones autonomy and independence. Bipolar can be viewed as a problem of living that with the right attitude, determination & willingness to work in a partnership with mental health professionals, can be managed well and the person can live a happy and successful life the same as anyone else. As long as we continue to see ourselves as victims and believe we will always be sick to some degree, we will be cheating ourselves of what we can actually achieve in this life. There is no room for this hopelessness that has been placed upon us by the medical model that we have so willingly accepted. We have to have a change in attitude, accept ourselves and live within our limitations, but we CAN and will overcome this problem of living if we approach it differently. If we do what we always did, we will get what we always got.

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