Bipolar 2 From Inside and Out

Over a year ago, I wrote about gaslighting and bipolar disorder (https://wp.me/p4e9Hv-pm). In my post I said:

[W]hat 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.

Since then, gaslighting has become a hot topic, appearing all over the Web, so I thought I’d write about it again.

The essence of gaslighting is that someone denies your reality and substitutes his own. (Gaslighters are mostly – though not exclusively – men.)

What I believe is driving the interest in gaslighting is the “#MeToo” movement. Women everywhere are speaking up about incidents of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and even rape that they had not spoken of before. Or that they had spoken of but not been believed.

In many of these cases, gaslighting was involved. The women say, “This happened.” The men say, “It was a joke/flirting/a compliment/not that big a deal/consensual.” Until now men have denied the women’s perception of abusive reality and substituted their own innocent explanation. And, for the most part, the men’s reality has been accepted. Again and again.

Some of the high and mighty have recently been brought low by revelations of misconduct. The more we hear, the more it seems that men who achieve prominence in any field see women and especially their bodies as just another perk – like a company car or a key to the executive washroom. An audience for a dick pic. A pussy to grab.

Those are the cases that make the news. But the problem goes all the way down to the least prestigious situations. Any male in a position of power over a woman has the opportunity to exploit that relationship. Many are decent men and don’t. But many – from your local McDonald’s manager to the city bus driver to the head janitor – do. That’s millions of men and millions of women, the gaslighters and the gaslit.

Again, why discuss this in a bipolar blog? Because the very nature of our disorder makes us a little unsure of reality anyway. Perhaps this is mania and my boss is complimenting me because I really am sexually appealing. Perhaps this is depression and I deserve the degrading thing that just happened to me. Perhaps this is somewhere in between and I can’t guess what’s what.

A person unsure of her emotions is more likely to take the “bait” that the gaslighter dangles. A person unsure of her reality is more likely to accept someone else’s definition of it.

The #MeToo movement is empowering. It allows women to bring into the light the shameful things that have been hidden away. And it gives the bipolar person a more objective standard against which to measure reality. “That happened to me too! I was right that it was inappropriate!” “I saw that happen to my friend. Next time I’ll be strong enough to speak up!” “I see what’s happening. I’ll teach my daughter not to put up with that behavior. And my son not to do it.”

And it says to the bipolar person, “You have an objective reality outside your moods. You can trust your perceptions on these matters. You too have a right to live without these insults, these aggressions, this gaslighting. You can trust your feelings when you perceive that someone has stepped over that line.”

We have bipolar disorder. We are not the disorder. And it does not rule every aspect of our lives. When we perceive a situation as unprofessional, harmful, insulting, degrading, we can say so – and deserve to be believed. Just because we have a mental disorder does not make us any less worthy of decent, respectful treatment by the men in our lives, whether they be boyfriends, husbands, fathers, employers, or supervisors.

We have enough problems in our lives. We shouldn’t have to deal with gaslighting too.

 

 

Comments on: "Gaslighting and Bipolar Disorder: A Follow-Up" (7)

  1. When I was hospitalised for the first time, no diagnosis, I was extremely fragile. My ex, who I knew just wanted to break it off, used my time at the hospital as a reason. “If it’s me, we can talk about.” I was so desperate and alone and had to quit my job and school because I needed to move out of the city. But no, I was the one that was aggressive, I was the one that was lazy… Not to make this about me but she used my fragility, fear and illness as a means to remove me. Gaslighting is definitely an issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was younger, there were guys who paid attention to me because “the crazy ones are hot in bed.” This is the sickest, most twisted crap a person can do to someone who is very vulnerable. When I called them on their crap, they said that I was “imagining it,” that I was “too emotional,” or that I brought all my misery on myself. Some people are just horrible. At this point I’ll never be in a relationship again, which is absolutely my right. But there are those who insist on saying “don’t give up, you’ll find somebody.” What part of “I don’t want to” don’t these people understand?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cheryl Fontaine said:

    I’m a 73-year-old woman with bi-polar disease who is being gas-lighted by my son – as I get older I find it more and more difficult to deal with this to the point I am nearly ready to give up. The depression part is becoming so large I can no longer get a handle on it – I worked for over 37 years, have four children and managed the disease well, but no more. I now have no friends and real family is on the other side of the country. I have no advocates and I’m scared. Thanks for letting me talk about this.

    Like

  4. I adore your post, keep it coming !!

    Like

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    Like

  6. Thank you so much for this post. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and since then, everything I did, every emotion that I had, every idea that I wanted to do was me being borderline in the eyes of my ex-partner. My low moments took him to “bad places” he said, as he would absorb my sadness rather than to hold me and tell me I was going to be okay. He blocked me out in those moments saying that he needed to take care of himself, get on with his life, when I never asked him to stop doing that. I just simply wanted a partner, from time to time, to tell me to keep fighting.

    His friends saw his lows and agreed with him, that I was dragging him down. Despite being in therapy and taking medication and constantly acknowledging his reality, his feelings, apologizing if I raised my voice or was hurt by something he did or if I was going through a rough moment, I wasn’t doing enough. I was just sick. I couldn’t control my impulses.

    I always took him into consideration and apologized for my actions, and he used that, unintentionally, to not have to face his own shortcomings. Still to this day, his friends don’t believe me. They say I caused him so much pain.

    I know now that I am not crazy, that I wasn’t being abusive or manipulative. I had started to question my sanity. I will never again apologize for taking responsibility for my actions and having feelings.

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