Bipolar 2 From Inside and Out

“You’re crazy. I never said that.”

“That’s not the way it happened. You’re crazy.”

“No one believes you. You’re crazy.”

“You’re crazy. You’re just overreacting.”

What do these statements have in common? Obviously, they involve one person telling another that she or he is crazy.

More subtly though, the speaker is saying that the other’s perceptions and feelings are invalid, untrue – wrong.

And that’s gaslighting.

Gaslighting describes a mind game that emotional abusers use to control their victims. (Gaslight is also an old movie, in which a husband uses the technique to try to convince his wife that she is insane. The victim of gaslighting is usually a woman and the perpetrator usually a man. Of course this is not always true. Either sex can be the gaslighter and either sex the gaslightee.)

But what does gaslighting have to do with bipolar disorder? Someone who is in the depressive phase of bipolar – especially one who is undiagnosed – is especially susceptible to gaslighting. The very nature of depression leaves a person wondering, “Am I insane?” To have another person reinforcing that only strengthens the idea.

Back when I was undiagnosed and in the middle of a major depressive episode, I had an experience of being gaslit. My grasp on reality was not entirely firm at the time, both because of the depression and because I was physically, socially, and emotionally cut off from the outside world, family and most friends. This isolation left the gaslighter, Rex, in a position of control.

I endured everyday denials of reality, like those mentioned above, but the most obvious one – the one that made me aware that I was being gaslit –happened when I suggested that we go for couples counseling. Rex asked if I was sure I wanted to, as he and the therapist could declare me a danger to self and others and have me put away. That, of course, was not true and I knew it wasn’t, which gave me my first clue that something was amiss.

When we got to the couple’s sessions, Rex tenderly held my hand and spoke of how concerned he was about me and how much he wanted to help me get better. In other words, he was saying that I was the crazy one, and that he wasn’t. That is the very basis of gaslighting – to make the other person seem or possibly even become crazy.

Once a person recognizes the gaslighting for what it is, she can begin learning to trust her own perceptions again. For a person in the grips of depression or mania, this will not be easy. I know it wasn’t for me.

It took a long time and a lot of healing before I could recognize what had happened, how my circumstances had been controlled, how my perceptions had been invalidated – how I had been gaslit. That was a vast revelation. It was like turning the tube of a kaleidoscope and seeing a different pattern come into focus. The elements that made up my life may have been the same, but the new perspective changed everything.

Having someone outside the situation who can validate your perceptions is an important tool in recovery. Sometimes a friend or family member can perform this function, but mental health professionals who have been trained in the process are often more successful. They are the people we often turn to to tell us we are not crazy, that our feelings are valid, and that being the mind game of gaslighting has affected us.

Getting help for the depression or bipolar disorder is also an important step in escaping the effects of gaslighting. With proper therapy and/or medication, a person’s thinking becomes more clear, accurate, and trusted. Turning off the gaslight is like turning on a much more powerful kind of light – one that illuminates your life, improves your clarity of vision, and begins to break through the gloom and despair.

And that light is more powerful than gaslight.

Comments on: "Who’s Crazy Now? A Guide to Gaslighting" (12)

  1. My mother used to do that to me from time to time. I would talk to her about something she said or did to me or around me and she would tell me that it never happened. She did this when I was a kid and even after I was an adult. That left me questioning my own state of mind because I was taught to believe my mother never lied. It took a long time for me to finally realize what game she was playing and even then I sometimes felt confused and disappointed when she pulled it again. She was so adamant that I wonder sometimes if perhaps she actually believed the lies.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is such a prominent feature of abusers, and I never knew the origins. Such an interesting read on an interesting topic. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Missie Houze said:

    Thank you for this information I have been searching for over 18 mos for a similar experience to mine. Along with my gaslighting abuse he has added gang stalking to reach an even higher level of false confirmation of my instability. I don’t have anyone who completely believes my theories even my Doctor’s are considering the thought of misdiagnosing my disorder to find a disorder that defines my statements more believable. At a loss and very close to becoming a zombie to my life..Thank you again

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Barry Kerby said:

    It’s NOT most commonly used against women. It’s just that women are more encouraged to seek counseling, and more women do. That skews the data.


  5. “that’s not the way it happened”…I lost track of how many times I got to the point of confusion that I apologized for things I didn’t even do. The isolation definitely made the whole situation worse, much of the isolating was caused by him.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reality seeker said:

    Ever consider that the spouse of a bipolar might actually be witnessing detached or unstable behavior from the bipolar and when they bring this to the bipolar’s attention out of love and concern, the bipolar’s accuses the non-bipolar spouse of gaslighting? Which is actually gaslighting by the bipolar. Delusional denial is very often a bipolar behavoir.
    Ask yourself why accusations of gaslighting are a thousand times more likely from a bipolar than from the rest of the non-bipolar population


    • Interesting perspective. I’d like to know where you got that statistic about accusations being a thousand times more likely than from the general population.


      • I would like to now as well because I had to REALLY dig in the internet to comes across your blog about being bipolar and being gaslighted by someone. For most it’s easier to blame a Bipolar person because they don’t really understand what bipolar is. I was diagnosed layer in life, 32. Post pardon depression brought it out into full manias than before I had my last child. I’m medication intolerant and had ETCs in 2004. I think Reality Thinker needs to do WAY more research and less commenting.


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