Denial: I’m not Bipolar, Doctor

DenialYou’re wrong, Doctor ! I’m not bipolar!

How can you say that to me?  You just met me – how can you possibly know??!!

I’m just depressed and I get agitated and anxious and hyper – sometimes but everyone gets moody ! It s normal to have moods. You re pathologizing me!

No other doctor has ever told me I have bipolar, I’m not crazy… I’m not psychotic…Are you telling me I’m schizophrenic?!

You don t know what you re talking about!

I’m sure if I go to another psychologist they won’t tell me that!

My psychiatrist / doctor / mother / father / husband / wife/ partner  doesn’t agree with your diagnosis!

Ever feel this way?

Ever tell your treating professional that you doubted their diagnosis of you as having bipolar?

Ever wonder if they’re right but you just can t bring yourself to admit it because you don t like the psychiatric label?

Ever return to that very same doctor days, weeks, months, years later stating that they were right and you should’ve listened to them?

Just recently I received an email from a patient I treated 15 years ago in San Francisco who told me she spent the last 15 years suffering horrible symptoms and went on to describe in some notable detail her life s challenges and the course she took. She thanked me for having been insistent and on target with her – wishing she had listened to me at the time, which could have potentially enabled her a different life course?

Yes , there is a stigma attached to the diagnosis of bipolar. I work in the US as well as abroad with patients in person or via video conferencing and quite familiar with the various stigmas attached to the diagnosis of bipolar – topic for another upcoming blog post.

I welcome comments on this topic of your initial reactions to your diagnosis of bipolar and what enabled you to ultimately accept the diagnosis. I also welcome you sharing your experiences of not having accepted the diagnosis initially and how it affected your life. I welcome your experiences of dealing with the stigma associated with the diagnosis and if you in fact reveal to others you have bipolar. I look forward to your comments very much. Thank you.

Suzanne A. Black, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist