Others Have It Worse Than You and Bipolar Doesn’t Care

August 2, 2017 Natasha Tracy

If you have bipolar disorder, you might hear "others have it worse than you." This is an unfair statement about bipolar disorder, read why.People often say to those suffering with bipolar disorder, “Others have it worse than you.” This is not a helpful statement. We know that others have it worse than us. In fact, others with bipolar have it worse than us; that’s just math. But the fact that others have it worse than us is absolutely irrelevant to our suffering with bipolar.

Expressing Suffering with Bipolar Disorder

While there is much to be said about living with bipolar disorder there is also much to be said about suffering with bipolar disorder. You might not consider it the same thing, that’s okay, but they both need expression. Expression of one’s experience of mental illness is something that not everyone likes, but, as I’ve said, I feel it’s important (Expressing the Experience of Bipolar – Not All Will Like It). In fact, Suffering Through Bipolar Medication Side Effects, a recent article of mine, was very popular, likely because so many people identify with the experience I wrote about. It’s not about wallowing in suffering, it’s about self-expression, which actually, in the end, decreases suffering.

“Others Have It Worse Than You, Stop Whining”

When others talk about your bipolar disorder and say “others have it worse than you,” usually they’re trying to shut you up and stop you from expressing your own experience. It thoroughly invalidates not only what you are trying to say, but also the pain that you have experienced. This is unfair and wrong.

The fact is suffering is suffering and it’s not measurable. Your suffering is yours and if it’s the worst thing you’ve ever experienced then it’s the worst thing you’ve ever experienced. No one can change that or take that away from you, no matter how snippy and invalidating other people may act.

Remember, my bipolar is not worse than yours, it’s just different. If I suffer every day and you suffer every day then that’s what happens. It’s not a contest. (By the way, bipolar I is not worse than bipolar II either. One can destroy you and your life as can the other.)

Value in Remembering that Others Have It Worse Than You and Your Bipolar

Now, all that being said, sometimes it’s worth remembering that others are hurting just like us. Sometimes it’s a wakeup call that we need because depression makes us think that no one feels as horrible as us and no one is as sick as us. This, of course, is not true and there is value remembering that.

Nevertheless, other people self-righteously announcing that “others have it worse than those with bipolar” is not remotely helpful. This is not something of which we are unaware. We know. We know that others don’t have enough food. We know that others are dying. We know that other are in war-torn areas. But none of that invalidates our experiences. Our suffering is our suffering. It’s real and that’s okay. And it’s okay to say so.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2017, August 2). Others Have It Worse Than You and Bipolar Doesn’t Care, 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.

August, 21 2017 at 6:53 am

To measure is to compare. We all do it. You might argue that nothing compares to your particular life experiences of bipolar. Well yes and no. It's all relative, isn't it. There are many other factors that can affect our pain and suffering as well such as stress, finances, homelessness, physical health, etc. The greater the number of negative influences the greater the suffering... We often judge people on a surface level or by what they are willing to reveal about themselves. But one can never truly know what goes on in secret in the life of another...
Sometimes the strongest among us are the ones who smile through silent pain, cry behind closed doors and fight battles nobody knows (or cares) about
I measure my pain and suffering against all the other factors operating in my life, not just the bipolar. Others will judge me and compare based on what I reveal and their experience of that. It's only natural

August, 21 2017 at 6:05 am

By the way, to say that pain and suffering is NOT measurable is absolutely ridiculous. If I stub my toe or I get hit by a car on a scale of 1 to 10 it is definitely measurable. How you measure things and how I measure things maybe different based on our individual life experiences but they are definitely measurable!

August, 21 2017 at 5:48 am

I beg to differ with a lot of this article...
I have bipolar and I definitely DO find it helpful and inspiring to read, watch or listen to biographical accounts of people who I feel have it worse off than me AND who have found a healthy resourceful way to effectively manage their life's. It gives me hope that maybe I can too, especially when I can find a way to assimilate some of their coping skills into my own life
What I DON'T find helpful is having pitty parties and allowing the problems of life to weigh me down and keep me there
I strive for a positive mental attitude every day whether I FEEL like it or not. I try not to live by my feelings because most days they are not my friend. If I listened to my feelings I would stay in bed all day and not go to work. My feelings will tell me to eat junk food because it I I love the instant pleasure it gives me. My feelings tell me it's too painful to exercise so I won't. My feelings tell me to tell my boss off or strike back at someone who hurt me. My feelings tell me to isolate. My feelings tell me I'm not good enough and so on. You get the picture
Pain and suffering is inevitable especially with any type of illness... How you learn to deal with it will determine your happiness
My experience has been if you always look to others for your happiness you are gonna be sadly disappointed so I do my best to try and be as independent self sufficient as humanly possible no matter what the situation happens to be. Which in itself can be very exhausting, but I'm kinda stubborn that way
Yes having bipolar is definitely a daily, sometimes minute tominute challenge more often than I care to admit. It's not fair, but so what
I believe we ALL judge each each other to some degree, rightly or wrongly is a matter of perspective. How another person feels or behaves toward me is more a reflection of their life experience. I can't change other people. The best I can do is enlighten them

August, 7 2017 at 8:05 am

Thank you for writing about and sharing your experience. It has been very helpful to me.

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