Seven Biggest Myths About Bipolar Disorder

September 10, 2010 Natasha Tracy

There is a perception that people with bipolar disorder are violent, lying, cheating, manipulative individuals. These myths aren't true and here's why.

Ah myths, we love them, don’t we? Friday the 13th is unlucky, Canadians live in igloos and drinking Coke and eating Pop Rocks will make your stomach explode. (Your stomach might not, but your pancreas is another matter.) People buy into myths all the time. When enough people say them, especially if the people are holding microphones or best-selling books, people assume they must be true.

But as a good friend of mine always says, trust, but verify.

Myths About People with Bipolar Disorder

These myths are brought to you by the commenters, here, at HealthyPlace.

  1. Bipolars are liars
  2. Bipolars cheat on their partners
  3. Bipolars are manipulative
  4. Bipolars are “spoiled teenagers”
  5. Bipolars feel it’s “all about them”
  6. Bipolars are angry and violent
  7. Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are almost the same thing

Well now, that’s quite a list. It’s amazing I’m allowed to live outside with all the “sane” people. For my own part, I am nothing like those seven things. I have never known a bipolar that was those seven things. Nevertheless, let’s soldier on.

Debunking Myths About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolars Lie

Lying is not remotely a symptom of bipolar disorder. It does tend to be found with some personality disorders, however. That being said, I will admit it’s almost impossible to be honest about how I feel with people as they don’t want to know about it. My obfuscation is to prevent the other person from knowing how horrible I feel. If you’d like to know about the blood-dripping suicidal ideation, I’ll tell you, but I'm pretty sure you don't want to know.

Bipolars Cheat

Depending on the survey, between 30%-60% of married people cheat. These are just your average run-of-the-mill-survey-answering-folk. Perhaps even more surprisingly, 27% of people who reported being happy in their marriage have had an affair.

Statistically then, at a minimum, 30%-60% of people with bipolar disorder also cheat. As hypersexuality is a symptom of bipolar disorder, it reasonable to think that bipolar disorder would lead to higher numbers, probably both in the person with bipolar disorder and their spouse. (Sorry, I can’t find any specific, reliable data.) But with a number already higher than 50% in some cases, it’s unrealistic to blame cheating on bipolar disorder in general. Most of the time it’s just the people in the relationship.

Bipolars Manipulate

Again, this is not remotely a symptom of bipolar disorder. Manipulation is often associated with personality disorders, but not bipolar disorder.

Bipolars Act Like Spoiled Teenagers

I’m not quite sure how to respond to this one. In fact, I'm not going to bother.

Bipolars Think It’s All About Them

Mania or hypomania does have a symptom of “inflated self-esteem or grandiosity”. Basically thinking that we’re the bee’s knees. This is different from the selfish “it’s all about me” concept, however. Again, that is more typical of a personality disorder. (Not that inflated self-esteem is the best trait either, but most of the time we have pretty low self-esteem, so give us a bit of a break.)

Bipolars are Angry and Violent

There was a specific systematic review on this subject – I’ll shortcut it for you – bipolars are not more likely than the general population to commit violent crime (once alcohol use was taken into account). People with alcohol problems, bipolar or no, are a different matter.

Borderline is the Same as Bipolar

Borderline is a personality disorder, considered part of someone’s “core personality” whereas bipolar is not. Bipolars have a distinct symptom-free baseline when the person is feeling well. A borderline’s symptoms are their baseline. Bipolar disorder is not borderline personality disorder. Period. They're not even in the same family. Some symptoms do cross-over, but that is common in medical diagnoses. (Please read Borderline Personality and Bipolar Disorder Differences, which does justice to this topic.)

Just Because I Do It Doesn't Mean it's a Symptom of Bipolar Disorder

In short, I’m sure there are bipolars who do lie, do cheat, do manipulate, are selfish and are violent. I have no doubt that they exist. But that's not disorder-specific; that is part of who they are.

Just because a person with bipolar disorder does something, that doesn’t make it a symptom of bipolar disorder.

Personally, it scares me and I jump when someone knocks on my door, I despise opening mail and I loved jumping out of planes. That's not bipolar disorder. That's just me.

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, September 10). Seven Biggest Myths About Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 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.

September, 27 2022 at 2:49 pm

Always of these are definitely not myths. Hell a lot of people like for example because that's a typical human trait. To say bipolar people don't lie is the same as saying those without don't. Never get your information from a blog on the internet people. Most people I knew who were bipolar were seeing multiple people unfortunately. Someone I knew who was bipolar often admitted he would be angry and stated he "can be very scary" when angry. I'm not saying all bipolar people are like that but many studies since this blog prove some of the myths aren't exactly myths.

Cant take anymore Bipolar's wife
September, 10 2018 at 9:00 am

sorry i am a spouse of a man with bipolar, married 24 years and he has done most of these things. His main thing is doing something wrong, then lying to me and others by cover ups. He thinks he can still do this and get away with it, even on meds.

Michelle Ellsworth-Moran
July, 18 2017 at 11:33 am

I'm confused, I've researched Narcissist disorder and they have very similar symptoms.

June, 25 2017 at 7:29 pm

I have bpd and come from a family with it that goes back at least 3 generations. I attest to the fact that yes sometimes I lie, but so does everyone I have ever met. It is NOT a symptom of BPD, it is a sign of being human and falling short of the glory of God. I work very hard every day to be a person that others can talk to and trust. I am proud to say that I have friends who trust me to the point of being there when they give birth. NONE of these are symptoms, but they are common behaviors for people with mental illnesses and also with people who suffer from addiction. To lump all people with BPD into one category is absurd. That is like saying every person with a striped shirt is a rapist, completely unfounded and downright wrong.

December, 5 2016 at 2:39 pm

I think the biggest issue with the above comments is the difference between self diagnosed or misdiagnosed and clinically diagnosed bipolar. None of the above myths are diagnostic criteria for bipolar, and that indicates to me, and most of the medical profession, that they will not be present in all people who have bipolar. So the arguement that "I have met lots of people with bipolar and they all did these things" is invalid. Unless you have met every person clinically diagnosed with bipolar (and that is highly unlikely) and have observed them constantly (pretty much impossible) you cannot make such assumptions and have anyone with common sense believe you. And such an arguement means you are disregarding any other diagnosis that a person might have. Many mental illnesses do not occur in isolation.
I have bipolar. and the myth that bothers me the most is the violence one. I had a teacher during my Assistant in nursing training who spouted that myth as fact. There were two of us in the class who were clinically diagnosed with bipolar. Please note that to get a traineeship in aged care you have to pass a police check and have no recorded violent incidents. We both verbally objected based on personal experience. Neither of us had ever be violent to another person. Any violence had always been directed towards ourselves.
The lying thing, well I'll admit to lying about my illness. Its hard not to lie when you are paranoid.
Cheating? Never have. I dont display the heightened sex drive that is one of the diagnostic criteria for mania.
Manipulative? Maybe a bit. I just want peopleto like me, and avoid conflict. But so does mostof the "normal" population.
"Spoiled teenager" - not even sure whats meant by this myth, so can't really formulate a reply.
"All about me"? I have been an assistant in nursing in aged care for seven years, not a job that pays well enough to do for the sake of money. I enjoy helping people. I have just qualified to be a registered nurse. One of my down swing triggers is upset friends who I can't help. I have accrued 224hrs of sick leave, meaning I have been rarely sick, let alone taken "mental health days". I feel horrible when I do call in sick, because I know my co-workers may have to work short staffed. I recently have had major events in my life that have made my mental health worse and had to take time, because I know I am unable to provide the care that my patients deserve.
"borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder are almost the same thing" - well yes they share some diagnostic criteria, most mental illnesses do - BUT - bipolar tends to be cyclical, and there are periods where NO symptoms are present. Borderline is a personality disorder - meaning there are personality traits that make everyday living hard for the person, meaning the disordered behaviours/thinking is present all the time unless a person gets therapy to address the traits or develops their own methods to allow them to live without it affecting ay to day living. The differences between BPD and Bipolar are set out in the DSM-V which PSYCHIATRISTS use to diagnose the disorders.
Its pretty hard to start looking into mental health disorders without thinking "OMG, thats so me" because most people have traits that are used as diagnosic criteria. These traits are only an issue if it effects everyday living. So a lot of people who have looked in to it and self-diagnosed themselves so they have an excuse to be less than stellar examples of the human race, they actually wouldnt be clinically diagnosed with anything.Treatment is also quite different between BPD and Bipolar. All of that being said, there is nothingto say that both cannot exist within the same person, they are not exclusive diagnoses.
By the way, I hate having to admit that my head is the reason I can't do something, I hate using my illness as an explanation for my behaviour, and I never use it as an excuse (for me at least, there are miles of difference between explanation and excuse, an excuse means its not my fault because I had no control over something, and explanation explains why I acted a certain way)
So really, "All bipolars do these things" is a really stupid assumption. To receive a diagnosis of Bipolar, you only have to meet a majority of criteria for depression and mania/hypomania., not all criteria. Any diagnosis from anyone but a clinical psychiatrist is not a formal diagnosis, and in my experience, most psychiatrists are reluctant to give a firm diagnosis on a person unless there is irrefutable evidence, even though they may treat as though the diagnosis is definite.

November, 27 2016 at 6:37 am

I have schizoaffective disorder along with bipolar, which means that for most of my life I have had thoughts that were just not real. I felt rejected by my family, because what I was believing did not make sense.
My husband helps me sort things out and helps me when stress gets to be too much to remain stable. When I get either manic or depressed (especially depressed ) I just cannot think well at all. I find out when I am well that my thoughts were wrong and try to repair the damage, but my family has been hurt for too long for them to be willing to deal with me, to challenge poor thinking. I get tired and suicidal when I compare myself to their achievements.
My husband understands. He is a safe person which helps me not get too unreal.

September, 25 2016 at 3:42 pm

Myths? Yea ok. Every bi polar person I've met had every single symptom in your so called MYTH LIST. Seriously. That's exactly who they are 100% give or take a number. Your weird and obviously lying because your all this or never new anyone with it.

August, 11 2016 at 10:49 am

1, 3, and 6 are NOT myths. Of course bipolars are going to say they are myths, however with my experience with living with bipolars, yes more than one, and with associating with other bipolars that 1, 3, and 6 is definetly not a myth!!!

emotive coyote
July, 19 2016 at 5:06 am

Wow! Hey guys,
I am feeling supported and judged all at the same time reading these comment so I thought I'd add another perspective. I have bpd,adhd and bipolar 2. Bit of a complicated mix but I noticed a lot of support for mentally ill people in general, so that's good....mostly...but....a few people have made it seem to be fact that lying and manipulation are symptoms of bpd which is not true. It has been noted as a symptom of antisocial personality disorder though. But then I don't think there is a single person with or without mental malady who has never lied or manipulated...if we're generalising. I don't know how usual it is but I personally thrive off the truth when I'm hypo to extremes sometimes. I am generally severely cheerful and positive mostly. My self esteem is lifted by the realisation that I can positively affect anyone around me. I normally feel allot more alive and in touch with everyone's emotions and enjoy trying to make them happier. When I depressed its the complete opposite I guess I am pathetic with barely anysocial ability at all, everything seems like hard work and I barely leave the house. I have currently not seen family or friends for 6 weeks and am almost certain they hate me. This is not a sob story as despite the rep of borderline personality disorder I understand sympathy is useless to me, I do not want to negatively affect the people I love so much with my misery as I have in the past. It is hard for all of us with the brain that seems to want you dead sometimes, probably just as hard even worse some times for the people who support us at our worst.
Do the abbreviations bpd, bp2, add really mean you can define that I will lie, cheat, steal, manipulate and neglect ur feelings?
If so I must be evil having three abbreviations as apposed to one?
Should I die?

April, 4 2016 at 8:22 am

Coming from someone that does not struggle with mental health issues and has the awful pleasure of dealing with unmediated individuals and medicated .....all those points are spot on. Some more intense than others but yes this is majority of the BP's I have ran into/know. the individuals I know professionally I don't trust at all, most of my colleagues feel the same - all over the place and unreliable. It is VERY difficult dealing with someone professionally and personally who is suffering with this. I am very grateful that I am not afflicted by this disease. Good Luck!

March, 26 2016 at 10:02 am

I am NOT BP, but have several sweet friends who suffer from the disorder, and several not so very sweet friends whose behavior makes me wonder if they are just mean, CHOOSING to behave in a manner that fulfills Bible prophecy of people's heart conditions in the "last days" 2 Tim 3:1-5 After observing them, listening to them, seeing their reactions & treatment of others, I came to this conclusion: BP & the 7 myths Natasha listed are 2 SEPARATE issues. Before any of you down trodden caregivers of those who continually display ALL the symptoms on the list, fire off a rebuttal let me explain. I have seen all the bad behavior that seems on the SURFACE a characteristic of most BP. I have been a victim of hateful , vicious, abusive speech. The tone of the BP person so evil sounding that most people could NEVER, ever, try as they might, imitate it. I'very been told "oh, they are sick, they can'take help themselves, you must over look it". This was said AFTER the supposed bp person called me over to their car, said their angry tirade, then floored the gas pedal. Had I not jumped back 2 feet, I would have been hit. So us it truly BP, BP with personality disorder, just personality disorder or plain selfish meaness. Let's reason on the matter. ALL of us non-BP humans, who have various chronic and/or serious health issues, especially when extreme pain is involved, can when confronted with additional overwhelming problems such as finances, family issues and the like, react like a wounded animal. We can strike out at those we love the most. Just look a the Bible account of Job. He withstood the loss of his beloved children, wealth, etc, and yet never said a negative comment about God. But as soon as Satan was allowed to cause such tremendous physical pain, this righteous man began to say such things as: God didn't care if he remained faithful or not, God destroys the innocent with the wicked alike. (Job 9:22) Be patient non religious people, because the abused caregivers will soon see the point they were making & Natasha's. Job 6:1-3,7:11,16 says Job was in so much anguish his "words have been wild talk". Was there a reason for his wild talk? Absolutely. Was it an excuse? NO.Job chap 32-41 shows how GOD corrects Job's thinking. And he humbly accepts the counsel & repents. HE DOES NOT USE THE FACT HE WAS IN HORRIBLE PAIN, HAD BEEN EMOTIONALLY TRAUMATIZED by the LOSS of his CHILDREN, went from rags to riches, & was FALSELY ACCUSED of wrong doing, nor did he have any human to comfort him. There in lies the difference between the BP person who as Tiffany stated is "self-aware' and those Natasha & Ladyrider68, Feb 2, 2015 described as "bad seeds" who use their illness as an excuse for poor behavior". I feel it is A GRAVE INJUSTICE to TRULY BP SUFFERERS, to be labeled by the 7 myths mentioned in Natasha's list. The one's who choose to act badly. Who refuse to acknowledge, apologize, or accept kind correction. Those who use their BP (if they truly are ) as sn excuse for bad behavior, are truly hurting innocent people, including not only the true BP sufferers, but the loving, caring people who have to endure such abuse. Just look at what such behavior has resulted in. Caregivers have been so traumatized, that they totally misinterpreted NATASHA'S blog. She plainly said "I'm sure there sre bipolar's who have displayed these 7 traits, but it is NOT a symptom of bipolar." THEY are either borderline personality disorder which means as the person grew up they developed this behavior because of environment or in my unexpert opinion, were NEVER taught self-control. Whether this was because of lack of parental guidance, or other environmental factors. This is who the person is on the inside, their core personality. Look @ the link Natasha gave. Excellent! These are the symptoms so many of you described. This is what I have seen in the "not do sweet friend". This is what is so sad, if it is personality disorder or a combination of the two, and it has been misdiagnosed, then our loved ones WILL NOT get better. The link showed the different treatments for
BP which is a chemical imbalance of the brain, & thus carefully monitored medication can help the BP sufferer live a fulfilled life w/family & friends. The personality disorder individual needs therapy. They NEED 2 b re-trained on how 2 behave or they will lose those who love them the most. To just say "oh well, they can't help it". Will cause the person to get worse, they will become more uncontrollable, and more alienated from the world around them. Of course, like Job, they MUST accept the help in order to correct their thinking. I originally Googled this: how do you know the difference between a person who is bp or just mean and selfish? Of all the sites that popped up, Natasha's quote was the one that made me think "jackpot" finally someone who recognizes the difference between BP & someone choosing to act in a bad way, whether they know it or not. So, thank you Natasha & those who realized what she was saying. I hope that all those who have been traumatized & abused by those they love will look at the personality disorder link, and see you were right to find this behavior unacceptable. Yes, at times BP sufferers can behave like the list, as all humans can, when undergoing overwhelming stress. But, continual abusive behavior is NOT a symptom of bp. I hope all of you caregivers can heal & find true happiness, love, and peace. To those who may be suffering from borderline personality disorder, and truly didn't realize it, go to the link and get help.?

Anonymous Survivor
January, 14 2016 at 7:37 am

Bipolar disorder is a spectrum disorder with generally 4 levels. The 4th level is at a psychotic level. Clearly, Miss Natasha, you are on the lower spectrum and admit you've never known someone that has all 7 "myths". I can confirm that these "myths" are indeed FACT. I met and married someone in the manic "happy" phase of his high level bipolar disorder. What happened next was pure HELL. I didn't understand what it REALLY is and can be. I have since educated many people including coworkers so they can better understand. It has not been easy as it is talking about a very personal thing, but I feel that people need to know more and know the truth.
If you research into it enough, you will find out how spouses suffer having to deal with it. At the high end, almost all of the marriages fail. Even after the divorce, I did my best to get him psychiatric help and on medication so that he could function somewhat normally at work. See more below...
It is TRUE that:
Are liars (and VERY good at it. You have to be really sharp to understand this.)
Cheat on their partners (in ways you don't want to know).
Manipulative (Masters Degree in this one.)
Bipolars are “spoiled teenagers” (not necessarily true, but maybe this is the final step to being totally psychotic.)
Feel it’s “all about them” (And don't you forget it. A death in your family can be distracted by a small splinter and how they are discomforted. They don't like to hear about others pain at all.)
Are angry and violent (Not going to go there. Be prepared)
Highest Bipolar disorder and personality disorder exist together.
In addition:
Substance abusers: alcohol and/or drugs
Self-grandiose themselves to the point of irrationality
When in the manic high, they pretend to be the most loving, caring people, but more often than not it's a hidden agenda to get what they want.
Quit or get fired from jobs VERY frequently when in the low phase due to anger or substance abuse on the job.
Are very sneaky.
Will blame things on you in a heartbeat when they have done something wrong.
If people can understand this and not deny it, please help them to understand what they have and try to get them help. The ex did read a book I gave him on the spectrum of bipolar disorder, and he was unsettled a bit because for the first time, he said this and I quote, "It was like looking into a mirror." They need proper psychiatric therapy with someone who KNOWS and is specialized in bipolar disorder. Also, then need to be treated with the proper medication for their needs. And they need to be educated about the disorder to understand what they have. They may not fully realize what they have and need to know that someone can understand and help.
Relationships don't work at this level. Learning to control themselves is a lifelong struggle and being involved in it can tear the other person apart. A neighbor ex-cop told me after my divorce, I was "lucky to come out of it with all my fingers and toes." He'd seen worse.
I got out early and life for me is now pretty darn good! But I had to educate myself to heal from it and I learned to make decisions by being more aware of things.
Best wishes!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 2 2020 at 6:01 pm

I totally agree with you. My mother had bipolar. Unknowingly I have ended up in relationship with several who also had BP.. I do have several friends who also have BP. Only one manages it well and she has admitted to all but the spoiled teenager.
My mother was manipulative and vicious. Two of my partners.. The only two that I have ever experienced any abuse with had bipolar. I have survived emotional, spiritual, psychological, and physical abuse with those two partners only. And as far as agreements ever went.. They were out the window as soon as it no longer fit their desires.
I stayed thinking that one day they would manage their disorders. I now have ptsd flashbacks, nightmares, and so much more that I have to undo.
I feel for the pain and suffering that anyone with bipolar lives with. But from a distance only.

September, 22 2015 at 5:30 pm

I'm sorry. I disagree entirely. These behaviors are very commonly displayed by bipolar individuals. It is not a coincidence that these personality traits are common amongst individuals with bipolar, they are in fact traits of individuals diagnosed with bipolar.
Sure, sometimes manageable, but often times not and the disease is progressive.
These are the exact traits that make this sickness so exhausting for one thay suffers bipolar as well as anyone thay attempts to have a relationship with someone with bipolar.

September, 21 2015 at 4:48 am

I am bipolar. When I was younger I did do many of those things. Was it because I was bipolar? No, it was because I wouldn't get professional help and instead self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. You know what can cause those symptoms? Drugs and alcohol. Once I got off them, the anger stopped. The cheating stopped. The selfishness stopped. The lying and manipulating stopped. It took 5 more years after getting clean to get treated correctly, but I did it. During those 5 years I met my husband who I have been faithful too for 13 years. The only violence since then has been once hitting a wall, mad because a friend was killed. So maybe the symptoms are showing up in people who are bipolarbecauae of a related 3rd thing, not the bipolar itself

September, 13 2015 at 11:32 am

Myth? Sure they are myths....not. Had 2 marriages both with bipolar men, of course didn't know until a year or so after married. They BOTH DID ALL 7 MYTHS!!! so not myths to me. Try being in a relationship with someone with bipolar and you tell me if its a myth. Never again.

April, 16 2015 at 12:39 pm

Adrienne, if your personality isn't borderline you don't have borderline personality disorder, it's part of the diagnosis of the disease. If you agree that "Bipolar symptoms change a person’s mood, thought processes, goals, passions, etc" you are acknowledging that the illness is not a bipolar persons personality,as they are acting out of character when unwell. You are basically disagreeing with yourself.

April, 16 2015 at 6:13 am

Hi there,
I came to this website to read about myths of bipolar because my ex left me in a manic episode and I've been learning more about it.
Sounds to me like you're in denial. Mania DOES present, quite often, as manipulative, deceitful, and unempathetic. A person with bipolar wouldn't be able to see that thought, because they experience it internally and are unable to see it from the outside, objectively.
One more thing. What you said about a borderline's symptoms being their baseline? That's rubbish. I have borderline, and most of the time, people don't even know I'm sick. My symptoms only present when I'm triggered, and that only happens privately. My personality is not Borderline. I have personality flaws that meet the criteria for BPD but that is not who I am 100% of the time. Bipolar symptoms change a person's mood, thought processes, goals, passions, etc. Bipolar is more a part of you than borderline is a part of me. Borderline can go into remission with treatment. Bipolar cannot.
Do more research before you spew nonsense about disorders you know nothing about.

February, 2 2015 at 7:20 am

I found this quite interesting and agree. I'm not BP, but I'm a child of a BP mother and a mother of a BP child. I've lived with this disease and I'm amazed at those who use their illness to justify their actions. Which from my experience is how people get the idea that it is a symptom and determine to use the word "ALL". It has a lot to do with who that person is INSIDE. My mother and daughter deal with their illness and try very hard to live normal lives. They both are very loving and caring when they are on their medications, which they've both done very good to take them the last few years. When they make a mistake just like the rest of us that have a conscious and try to be a good person, they take responsibility for their actions. They apologize after they loose control and they are very remorseful. They don't use their illness as a "cop out". I say that because I have a step son whose mother is also BP. She has 1-5 on your list of myths covered and I am stating it's a choice and her personality not her illness. My mother loves me very much. She has sacrificed and more than shown me her love. She wasn't selfish, manipulative, thoughtless, and etc. She would loose control and other symptoms revealed but when she recovered there was apologies and true sincere remorse. Even at a young age I learned that stress and other things would affect who she was because she had difficulty during these times. I learned how to avoid trying to trigger her illness as I put it and I learned to stay out of radar detection. We ALL have our imperfections and illnesses, but what determines who we are inside is US. A mother or anyone who would use their illness against their child or anyone as a manipulating weapon threatening to commit suicide including a much longer list of crutches, manipulations, and deceit based on illness as their excuse is truly revealing who they truly are inside. That is not BP because my Mom never lost her loving mother instincts nor has my daughter lost her loving daughter instincts on a non-stop basis along with other relatives who are also BP, yet I do have relatives as I call "bad seeds" who do use their illness to the fullest as an excuse to behave poorly.

December, 6 2014 at 6:10 am

Thank you, it's difficult to live with any disorder. But to not be understood or to be shunned because of it is horrible. We have come so far in science, women's rights, gay rights, equality for races, But man do people still have a problem with mental illnesses. No one should have to feel ashamed for something they can't control, or be persecuted for the ignorance of others.

October, 17 2014 at 4:42 am

I both agree and disagree. While the specific symptoms of bipolar do not include cheating, lying, etc., these characteristics are much more likely to come up as a result of bipolar's actual symptoms. For example, when a person has grandiose thoughts, that person is much more likely to manipulate, lie, etc. to pursue their "goal". During a manic episode, the laws of both society and nature don't always apply. When a person with bipolar is pleasure-seeking, they are more likely to drain the accounts, engage in dangerous behaviour or seek sexual affairs. These behaviours will likely result in manipulation, cheating, lying, and so on. The guilt of such subsequent behaviours piles on, resulting in deeper episodes of depression.
Because of bipolar's often-erratic manic side, I do believe that there's a valid reason why these people are accused of all sorts of bad behaviour, but that we can't assume that if a person has the disorder, they will automatically conduct themselves in these ways. They aren't bad people - these impulses are extreme and very hard to control. But their actions often do hurt others (and themselves) and the faster help is received, the better.
As for the stats, I simply don't believe them. If a group of 1000 people are asked if they've considered an affair, it's silly to assume that the results apply to the total population. Often times, stats are achieved through biased means to "get a point across" - for example, a group of divorcees are asked whether they've cheated. Well, when you're unhappy, you're more likely to cheat, whether you're dealing with a mental illness or not. So I don't think stats apply at all.
In reference to the BPD comparison, I totally agree. Bipolar is a mental illness. BPD is a personality disorder. There are similarities, but careful assessment of the patient will ensure a proper diagnosis. Treating bipolar patients is difficult initially, due to denial factors, but treating BPD is much more challenging in the long run. Because of this, we as therapists are advised to set a limit on how many BPD patients we can treat at any given time.

Jeremy Gesell
July, 24 2014 at 10:26 am

My wife blames her lying, cheating, stealing, and drug use on being bipolar. Are you saying this is an excuse?

May, 5 2014 at 2:51 pm

As a very self aware person with bipolar disorder, I have to add that many people in these comments are missing the point of this article completely.
The entire point was that the core characteristics of bipolar disorder don't include the aforementioned myths. A person can certainly possess unsavory traits, but it does not stem from the mental illness itself.
Just because you knew one, two or a handful of people with bipolar disorder doesn't mean you can make broad assumptions about the disease.
Think of it this way, if a drug company produced a new drug designed to treat heart problems and tested it on 2 or even 10 out of 314 million (current US population) and then claimed it to be safe for everyone, would you trust it? Of course not! The FDA requires a few thousand or more.
So just because you knew 2 out of the 5.7 million Americans with bipolar disorder doesn't mean that the unsavory traits they may have ALSO had are directly related to the disorder.
US Population from 2012 Census
FDA Drug Testing:
Mental Health Number:…

March, 17 2014 at 4:10 pm

I'LL START BY IM MARRIED TO A BIPOLAR AND YES IN THE BEING IT WAS SO HARD TO try to support and many times I walked away but im in the medical field I really love him and it take a lot of support the right dr and for that person to want to compermise to get help with those low and paranoid patterns two people can be happy its take a lot of work at the being. In a 9 yr relation with my husband I love him more today then say 9 yrs ago to little girls have made us and take his meds faithful and amitts when he has miss a few day his behaviour does change we have an understanding. So it can be just another part of life

mum to bunny
February, 3 2014 at 2:57 am

This is exactly the problem I have with Bipolar. It’s all “me, me, me and my illness”. The lack of accountability. The sense of entitlement. “Look at me, I’m ill, you should all support me and care about me”. And I’m speaking from a personal experience… No matter what I did I never had a "thank you"... just abuse and violence.

Bipolar hell
January, 25 2014 at 7:05 pm

Nathasha, i believe you are a bipolar and it has become some sort of a shame for you and you feel you need to disprove the whole established symptoms so that your world will become a bit more acceptable?? right?? You should be more responsible than post half baked articles like this because you have no idea what terrible lives people have to live living with people with bipolar who lie and manipulate and end up destroying innocent young lives. Maybe who knows, you would like to believe in earnest that you are not as bad as the extreme cases you may like to establish but that doesnt negate the fact that there are thousands or even millions of bipolar out there who are going to read your self centred article and disengage themselves from seeking treatment. But i personally know one bipolar mom from a family of 11 who have managed to lie and manipulate her symptoms so well and give excuses that unless you look closer you will never see it, she ended up destroying the whole family. So good, i will forward you article to her so she can still keep at it and who know destroy a few other lives with your article to prove her 'sanity' but trust me if she comes across your article she will use it to her highest possible advantage. Next time just print a few t-shirt, 'hey, im bipolar, but im not the lying kind' , that be more convenient for you and others. tqvm, well done, what a try

January, 23 2014 at 1:46 am

hi sheila,i see what you are talking about in a friend of mine,i know her for two years she told be she had bi-polar , but recently told me she was diagnosed with bpd, so i believe they can have both illneses,very hard to deal with for us and them,good luck to you.

Sheila crone
January, 21 2014 at 6:02 pm

My 62 yr. old sister has been diagnosed as having bipolar II. As a child she was always seeking male attention, finding situations where she could create jealousy in her sisters and making impulsive decisions that usually harmed her. Throughout the years, I have paid her and her husband out of serious situations, but all they can do is criticize the care I gave: a car, medical care, shelter, etc. She became extremely religious and gave all her money to a church that she has watched fail. She has attempted suicide three times. Her and her husband love to criticize fat people and preachers of other denominations. They are retirement age now and broke through their bad financial decisions. After all this, she finds ways to manipulate others into thinking I'm doing things to hurt her. She pretends to love me me oh so much, but can change in a heartbeat to criticize me, my daughter and husband. I stay away as much as possible, but she IS my sister and is ill. Does this sound more like borderline disorder than bipolar II?

December, 4 2013 at 10:25 am

I just have to say, there are hundreds of thousands of ppl without bi polar that are liers cheaters, munipulators, stop the stigma,everyone has moods, feeling, depression, anxiety, feeling sorry,selfish , ect ect ect just because of bi polar does not make a person a bad person, ppl are just to lazy to understand and want to see things as negitive, i prefere to think positive and to make it as pleasant as possible for the ppl that are dealing with this mental illness, not always easy but neither are so called (normal) ppl , smh

December, 4 2013 at 12:03 am

Myths? I think you are making excuses. Sure, not all people are the same and that goes for bipolar people as well. Beings tried to one had been the hardest thing I have and will have ever done in my life. These may not be true for you, in your mind, because most people with bipolar are deluded into thinking nothing is wrong with them. These "myths" are not even widespread. I wish I knew these things before I got I to a relationship with my wife. There is a reason why 90% of relationships containing a person with bipolar MENTAL DISORDER fail.

October, 12 2013 at 12:58 am

This is about the term 'manipulative' that is often applied to people with bipolar disorder.
Now, we people with bipolar disorder are typically very emotional, and experience a range of emotions that others do not pick up on.
Let's take a bipolar child, in the playground. She's just witnessed a minor bullying incident between to of the girls in her class, and she doesn't know what to do. Should she befriend the girl who was picked on and face being picked on by the other one? The existential dilemma she is facing has reduced her to tears. The teacher sees her crying. The bipolar girl can't give away what happened, and she cries still further.
The teacher is exasperated. The girl seems to be crying for no reason, and it happens often. She just seems to want the teacher's attention all the time. The teacher has deduced the girl's behaviour as manipulative, since the teacher cannot see the reason why the girl is crying and the girl is not explaining.
People with bipolar disorder will often seem to affect people emotionally and the person sees no reason why. Nobody can see the pain and anguish in our heads, the dysfunction of the brain that prevents us from doing what we need to do.
If you are mentally healthy you need to have enough imagination to understand that there are things beyond your comprehension relating to the mental illness.

October, 11 2013 at 8:57 pm

Interesting post Jaxon. At least you take the time to go through it, rather than just denounce it all and call names as others have in responding to it.
I can't speak for Natasha and what her reasoning is or was at the time of writing the article, but I can speak to your points at least. I'll have to quote and then write below each part.
1. "Lie, cheat, manipulative, self-centred – yes, yes, yes and yes. I know two diagnosed BPDs and they both have exhibited all of these. The major problem with BPD seems to be a lack of admission that one is actually doing these things. As you put it yourself when discussing lying, you lie because you think others can’t take it. That doesn’t mean you’re not lying; it means you think there’s a valid reason for you doing it. But that doesn’t make it OK to other people or for other people."
First, we have to be careful about the acronyms or abbreviated terms we use. BPD could mean bipolar disorder which I'm assuming is what you mean by it, but it's also meant borderline personality disorder. I think I've actually seen it to mean the latter more frequently, but I can't be 100% sure on that.
Second, you introduce a whole other element, which is your perception of the lack of one's admission to any of those faults as being a symptom itself of bipolar disorder. But, if you reread Natasha's post, it's clear what's she's saying. She's saying that lying is not a symptom of bipolar. That's true. Lying (and manipulation, because in my mind anyway, it falls under the same category) are more symptomatic of personality disorders, and particularly often, borderline personality disorder. She, THEN, says that have stated lying is not a symptom of bipolar, she "admits" that she finds it difficult as an individual to always be forthcoming to people, particularly when suicide is on her mind. But you completely manipulate and turn her words all around (as later also, "like discussing your suicidal ideation to make your lying more valid"). No, actually, that's not what she said at all. You missed it.
You DO have a good point when you say this though, extracted from its application: "As you put it yourself when discussing lying, you lie because you think others can’t take it. That doesn’t mean you’re not lying; it means you think there’s a valid reason for you doing it. But that doesn’t make it OK to other people or for other people."
I don't know if she said she did lie (as a regular habit, as we all have one occasion or other), my interpretation was that it was more of a withholding. But regardless, what you write is a good point. My only hiccup was with the last sentence, because other people don't get to determine what I share with them. That's my choice.
2. "You’ve used the same reasoning to somehow debunk the ‘myth’ that BPDs cheat. Well, everyone cheats, you say, and it’s part of our nature, so you can’t really blame that, but, hey … I don’t even know what kind of reasoning you’re using here. It goes all over the place."
I think I'm going to disagree completely here. First, Natasha was not trying to "debunk the 'myth' that BPDs [edit-bipolars, or people with bipolar disorder] cheat." She was simply trying to demonstrate that people can't blame the cheating on the bipolar itself, and often only on the bipolar . . . whichever way it goes. She also does not state that everyone cheats, she gives a statistic of 30-60% (I assume of the total population?) in marriages that do cheat. Now I don't recall what percentage of the population is diagnosed with bipolar, and of those, what percentage are in marriages . . . and which country we're even talking about here, because Natasha is Canadian. I'm American. I don't know what anyone else is (or that it matters), but I do know these statistics are usually done by country. From what I have read and understood in general about bipolar disorder, the number in marriages is probably lower in comparsion to those not in marriages or even in any relationship. All that being side, it would just lower the odds, not increase them. But to move back to the main point, because I got a little sidetracked, of course people with bipolar cheat, as do people without bipolar (and even people without a mental illness in the relationship at all! Gosh, I'm shocked).
Bottomline is that the bipolar is not to blame, necessarily, for the cheating. And that is the premise for the rest of the article, really. Maybe Natasha didn't say it the greatest way, I don't know, but that is the main point. Simply because someone has bipolar disorder does not mean that he or she is going to be a chronic liar, cheater, manipulater, selfish, or also have borderline personality disorder.
In fact, if you're facing (which it sounds like you are or have) all of those problem behaviors chronically and the person has bipolar disorder, it could mean a couple things: a)they're not stable on medication and/or b)they also have borderline personality disorder, of which those other traits are all symptoms. It could be either way, or neither, but I can guarantee it's not all attributable to the bipolar itself.
It's difficult. For both parties, the one with bipolar and the one without. And yeah, sometimes the person with bipolar IS selfish. However, as someone who has bipolar I, and adhd and ocd, but who does not cheat, lie, intentionally manipulate, or be overtly selfish, I can say that my significant needs growing up (over which I had no choosing) required so much of my parents' efforts that I was perceived as being extremely selfish and was greatly resented by my older sister, which I didn't know until just the last year or two. I don't that's necessarily restricted to childhood. And I'm not saying it's always the case, it's not. Nothing is ever always the case. It's just a perspective to conider, because people do need different things, to different degrees and at different times. And we often don't know how to ask for it, if we're lucky enough to be able to identify it.
Aside from your relatively logical post, I pick on a lot of pain and hurt in your life that has, unfortunately, been at least in part, caused by the bipolar itself, and then of course by the individuals and how they handle themselves. I'm sorry that that's the case for you; it doesn't surprise me. Bipolar disorder and any other accompanying disorders, personality or not, wreak havoc on people's lives whether you're the one with the disorder or not. Just as the person with the disorder didn't choose to have it, so too, the people in our lives didn't choose to have to live it with it, particularly if it's by relation. But even if it's not, and we were chosen by someone, that other person chose us, not the bipolar. And while it may be easy to separate the two sometimes, many times it's not.
I hope that you're able to find the peace and healing that you need. We all need it from time to time, for different reasons, etc etc. So don't be afraid to take that extra step for yourself, whatever it looks like. Be selfish in that regard, and don't let anyone convince you otherwise. That's your choice, not theirs, and it's not always an easy one. Good luck and take care,

October, 11 2013 at 6:35 pm

Jaxon, i whole heartedly.agree with you. Its ashame.we ever.gad to cross path with self unaware bipolars

Jaxon Roma
August, 22 2013 at 4:10 am

Lie, cheat, manipulative, self-centred - yes, yes, yes and yes. I know two diagnosed BPDs and they both have exhibited all of these. The major problem with BPD seems to be a lack of admission that one is actually doing these things. As you put it yourself when discussing lying, you lie because you think others can't take it. That doesn't mean you're not lying; it means you think there's a valid reason for you doing it. But that doesn't make it OK to other people or for other people.
You've used the same reasoning to somehow debunk the 'myth' that BPDs cheat. Well, everyone cheats, you say, and it's part of our nature, so you can't really blame that, but, hey ... I don't even know what kind of reasoning you're using here. It goes all over the place.
Manipulation and self-centredness ... These are major issues and, again, the problem seems to be a lack of ability to see them. Perhaps, like the 'hey, I don't lie, but I find it impossible to tell the truth' you have a different view of it that somehow makes these things OK to you. Like discussing your suicidal ideation to make your lying more valid.
The problem I've had with living with a BPD (and closely related to another BPD) is that their own personal issues have been regularly made to be my problems. In fact, their problems are always seen as worse than my problems, and therein lies the self-centredness. There is no understanding or acceptance that other people can have their own problems that need to be considered and respected by others.
Gratitude is scarce for anything I've done and anything I continue to offer, regardless of money, time or emotional investment in a situation. Generally, I am perceived as not doing enough and yet I don't owe this person anything at all. I am giving of my own free will.
I don't know you. I don't mean to criticise you and I certainly don't mean to categorise you in a small basket according to my restricted experience. But if you're going to debunk 'myths', you at least need one or more clear arguments, and unfortunately I can just hear reasons why these things are actually OK to you.

August, 8 2013 at 2:35 pm

I can say for a fact that lying, cheating and manipulating are a part of bipolar disorder. Having been surrounded by bipolars my whole life, that is something they all have in common. They lack empathy, remorse and compassion. Everything is everyone else's fault, and they are NEVER, EVER sorry for anything they do. Nothing but lip service. They don't ever change, and use being bipolar as an excuse for their behavior, or their meds aren't correct. All BS. I've never been so disgusted by the behavior as I have been by the lying, cheating and manipulating bipolars I have had the misfortune of having in my life.

June, 26 2013 at 2:16 pm

"Lying is not remotely a symptom of bipolar disorder. It does tend to be found with some personality disorders, however. That being said, I will admit it’s almost impossible to be honest about how I feel with people as they don’t want to know about it. My obfuscation is to prevent the other person from knowing how horrible I feel. If you’d like to know about the blood-dripping suicidal ideation, I’ll tell you, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to know."
Nice use of the word obfuscation. I think that is a more accurate wording than when I talked about lying to everyone about being bipolar on a different post. Its more dishonesty by omission than out right lying. To me, it is saving them from the harsh reality and saving me the discomfort of sharing it and the pity or awkwardness that might follow, which I would sooner avoid.
Plus, I find that I couldn't possibly effectively and sufficiently relay what it is I'm going through were I to try.
In regards to the rest of the list, my response would be, to no more a degree than the general population.

May, 15 2013 at 1:43 pm

Selfish? No, that's not a myth. Some of the most selfish people I've ever met in my life, and lucky me, two of them are my parents. Their timing was good, they lived the Boomer years, they had all you could ask for, but that didn't stop them being miserable and violent to their kids. Now they're off gallivanting around the globe through retirement. Their parents, who knew what work was, helped them -- do they help their grandchildren? Hell naw. Do they help a disabled grandson? Their single-mom daughter? Ever offer to help with childcare, ever think oh hey, maybe these kids'll have to go to college someday, how lovely it'd be if they didn't start their lives deep in debt, if someone helped them? If someone chipped in for childcare, anything?
Selfish as the day is long. And at the end of this they email me and whine that I don't do things for them and send photos when they suddenly look bad because they don't have any of the grandkids. They can burn in hell, both of them. Hope they have long painful illnesses that take them right to the end.

January, 28 2013 at 10:02 pm

I came across this site. I find it odd that this list is myths because I have known a couple bipolars that match everyone.
Including self medicate with drugs

January, 28 2013 at 5:04 am

Thank you for this great article. I was recently diagnosed with bipolar II. I went undignosed for many years. I was however diagnosed many years ago with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I am 42 and had a total hysterectomy 2 weeks ago. Ive been searching for opinions, but not finding much. Maybe you can help. Will surgical menopause make me totally batshit crazy, or maybe help the symptoms???

January, 27 2013 at 4:32 pm

Hi there Monique - I asked my hubby to answer this for me because he's had to deal with my reckless spending in the past. I don't know about your fiance but for me the reckless spending was due at first to mania and hypomania, and impulsivity, and later due to depression and need for a quick fix on junk food (I put on 20kg also at that time).
Hubby says it sounds like you need some support in managing with your fiance's bipolar because it's not easy - a good counsellor might help you best. He says he can't really give a good response because he doesn't know you and your husband well, and every one is different. He has to understand me really well and my bipolar in order to give the right kind of encouragement. There's not much use getting angry about it - better to try to get the best communication possible and work through it together. (I've lost those 20kg now).
My advice is only to say that while I don't know your fiance at all, the reason I would be covering up my spending is due to embarassment or fear of disappointing my husband. I don't like to admit when I need some help or that I'm not coping as well as I thought.

January, 27 2013 at 3:49 am

hi there. my fiance has been diagnosed with bipolar. most of the time, we manage quite well. he is loving and kind, and also works hard to be better than he is. the big problem we have is there are times where he gets secretive about spending, and lies about it and other things. when i force him to own up, it is discovered that he has spent large amounts of money on junk food and the like. the lies and the abuse of money are very damaging. i know you say they are not part of bipolar, but as he doesn't behave this way most of the time, i'm inclined to seriously wonder . . . .

Natasha Tracy
September, 20 2010 at 9:28 am

Hi Kelly,
Well said.
- Natasha

Kelly Ray
September, 19 2010 at 5:49 pm

If you look down the list, it could probably apply to PMS as well...I could probably find these myths under any mental illness or personality disorder. Just goes to show you that people who don't live in the shoes of the one with the struggle will slap the most convenient stereotype on - I believe they think it saves them the time and inconvenience of having to get to know somebody for who they truly are. God forbid that might mean taking a risk.
I feel blessed, ten years after having been diagnosed bipolar and just a couple years knowing of my borderline status - that I have a gift of self-examination; I know very well how to be in tune with myself, know my triggers, know my body, spirit, mind - I can't say the same for fools that follow myths and spout off generic judgments.
I say foolishness and judging others is the mental illness that's got the world in the violent and chaotic mess it's in today.
One day at a time.

Natasha Tracy
September, 19 2010 at 11:43 am

Hi Tammy,
You can always come here to talk. That's OK with me. I hope you are getting some help with a professional to talk to as well. Therapists can not only listen to you but they can help you find sense in all the disjointedness.
You're going through a tough time, but you're completely normal. You just need to get some help.
Good luck.
- Natasha

Tammy Tony
September, 17 2010 at 8:32 pm

I have had a through trip through this affliction. Days that started like nothing could ever be a problem, afternoons that found me deep in a pitt from which I could see no escape. Day after day. My up times became clouded by what I knew was sure to follow. When I was finally diagnosed I was in the midst of an identity crisis, the doctor said that it was caused by the bipolar. I was then more confused, and afraid of the meds that were offered, what was real and what was not? I'm sorry if this all seems disjointed and pointless. It seems to mirror my life at this point. I just need to talk.

Natasha Tracy
September, 14 2010 at 5:18 pm

Hi Cat,
Great to hear a "sane" person's perspective. I think it's important that the non-bipolar folks weigh-in because really, you're the ones that are going to be dispelling those myths most convincingly.
I don't know about blessing, but I try to be helpful. Thanks.
- Natasha

Cat Wilke
September, 14 2010 at 3:03 am

as a member of the "sane" (lol - u know it's those "sane" ppl u have to worry about -- don't know when they're gonna blow) -- an observer of a wonderful husband who has bipolar disorder -- you are spot on with your article. People are people, good or bad, and having bipolar disorder doesn't make them bad. In our relationship, I am the "bad" one compared to my husband -- at his core is a decent, sweet, naive and innocent individual -- my core -well -- thanks to traumas from an alcoholic father and an incestual sibling -- i am wired and warped in a not so innocent/naive direction that only Christ can help me fight. There are so many misconceptions about bipolar disorder and I agree ppl just don't want to know the "truth" most of the time and would rather have comfy generalities to cling to so they don't have to face and truths about themselves. Keep yelling the truth about bipolar disorder --- there are Horton's out there that hear you in Whoville and eventually the ppl in the "sane" world will also hear you. God bless you Natasha -- u r a blessing to us.

Natasha Tracy
September, 13 2010 at 8:09 am

Hi Lesa,
Yeah, I still think grandiosity isn't necessarily the same thing as selfish, although it can be.
I do know how unimportant I usually feel, and I agree, it's nice for the change.
- Natasha

September, 11 2010 at 7:17 pm

Hi Natasha,
Hi Natasha - Interesting post. It resonates with me as usual. Something my therapist told me about the 'grandiosity' feeling that happens during mania/hypomania is this: people with Bipolar Disorder often have very low self esteem (symptom of depression) and during mania - the individual can feel an inflated feeling of confidence and importance. Part of the reason for this is that one can feel unimportant to oneself and to others - its a coping mechanism against the feelings of worthlessness. I definitely experienced this during my mania - for the first time in my life I felt important. Considering I have felt very unimportant for most of my life - I guess I needed it. It helped to understand it in this way.

Natasha Tracy
September, 11 2010 at 8:04 am

Hi Shannon,
Congratulations on finding something that's working for you, that's a tough thing to do. To the best of my knowledge, borderline is best treated with life-skill-type therapy, which is exactly what you're doing. I have no doubt it's hard work, but it's a step in the right direction.
I'm glad I could help. You're welcome.
- Natasha

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