I’m Going Off about Therapy Part Deux

Okay so where were we?

(in case you have just joined us please make sure to read the first going off about therapy post too in order to get the full effect.)

I was just talking about whether or not therapy can help you to not experience the pain of Bipolar disorder.

I am reminded of this piece I wrote in which I talked about how Bipolar may get worse but YOU can get better. And I think that this is where therapy earns its keep.

Therapy can help make US stronger and better in our Fight Against Bipolar Disorder.

But as for the intensely internal indescribable pain of Bipolar…

I do not believe that therapy can make that “go away”


I do not like when therapists tell us that they can help us “Manage” Bipolar….

I know what they MEAN

They mean they can give us tools and skills and ideas to help keep us in check…to help keep us away from the break down…to help keep us out of the hospital perhaps….

They can help us “manage” the more external, observable parts of Bipolar.

So sure.  They aren’t lying.

But when the desperate suffering Bipolar hears those words they feel like…


is on the way


okay now i’m sad.

because it isn’t

you know that.


“Managing Bipolar”

is not the same as

relieving the pain.




I really hate typing shit like that.

i feel like I do it all the time.

Maybe I should blog about aprons…or emus or something where you don’t have to say things like that all the time.


But let’s get into my big beef with therapy for Bipolar…(yep we have not actually mentioned it yet)

I think therapy can be EXTREMELY triggering

bad therapy is worse than no therapy

But Good therapy can also be DAMAGING at the wrong time

I think the wrong therapy at the wrong time can put a person in danger


Therapy can get into some deep shit

therapy can stir stuff up

therapy can open stuff up


And while for normal people that is probably almost always a good thing….

For Bipolars……

that therapist better look both ways before crossing that street.


Because if there is any whiff of “mood” or “episode” around then there is always the risk of triggering and exacerbating it….

Actually with a Bipolar isn’t there ALWAYS the risk of triggering and knocking off balance….??



There is a fine balance here.

Because on one hand hashing through old gross emotional shit can desensitize triggers like your mother or whatever….VERY important. Extremely helpful.

However, talking about all of that old gross emotional shit about your mother may also



AND who on earth thinks it is a GOOD idea to talk about this stuff when you ARE depressed?

To make it worse….unfortunately most of us go when we are feeling depressed because we want HELP.

And it seems like a good idea to you and the therapist  to talk about some shitty shit in your life in order to “process it” or “get it out” or whatever whatever whatever

but that shit is for NORMAL PEOPLE

That is what normal people do with their NORMAL PERSON FEELINGS


That shit can fuck US up. WORSE.


I have NEVER had a therapist who seemed to have this idea in their heads.  NEVER.


Maybe just maybe WE need DIFFERENT therapists than the ones that also serve the normal people and their normal person “feelings”


Where oh where are the therapists who actually specialize in Bipolar?

And I don’t just mean they list it as an “area of interest” or whatever the fuck

I mean isn’t there anyone out there who is putting…

Bipolar First!

(I was in such an impulsive rush when I set up this site and my mind told me Bipolar first was a good name and I wasn’t sure I believed it but it keeps being relevant. Because seriously.  I would like SOMEONE to put Bipolar First….because WE all HAVE to…whoa this is getting a little post within a post…let’s come back to this later.)



You need to protect yourself from bad therapy.

Be really clear…

I am depressed…I need help…I am afraid that talking about my deep emotional stuff will make me feel more depressed.  What else can you do for me?


And always…”I am Bipolar.  I live my life on the edge of break down.  I want to work on myself so I can be stronger in my fight but I need you to remember that every thing that comes up has the potential to trigger me…..and please please please don’t stir everything up and then send me out the door triggered…Bipolar….flammable.”


How many of you have ever gone to therapy with the hope of feeling better and then after it got into your car feeling WORSE?

Do you see how dangerous that could be in the wrong moment?


at the




You know the time I am talking about.


And it isn’t like we can’t ACT like it is okay…

“oh are we done oh yeah okay I will think about what you said good point see you next week thanks……”

walks to car…

gets in….

starts to shake……


If I was a therapist I think I would honestly stay away from Bipolar people.  Out of respect and an acknowledgment of my own inadequacy.

I guess if i had to I would only work on “skills”…..

I know that is not fair because the Bipolar people need therapists too.

It isn’t our fault that we are volatile.

I really am just saying that to wham home my point about how careful I think therapists and Bipolars need to be in therapy and how

No One Ever Talks About This Like This.



AND if you are seeing a therapist for “skills” I would want to make sure they understood that the skills are helpful but they are not going to stop the pain.


just get everybody on board from the get go

and while you’re at it

tell the friends and fam

all those loved ones who are so relieved that you are “getting help”..

because now you’ll get “better”




once after unleashing some suffering pain filled bipolar “rant” email on a friend…

she actually insinuated that it didn’t seem like I was using all of the “skills”………..


little did she know that that kind of ranting IS a skill we use to help “Manage” the pain.

Loved ones have to be aware that they don’t KNOW SHIT

(she is actually a very nice person and has since become more aware.)



As for skills…..

Let’s talk about help from Bipolars versus help from Therapists……

(I am going to do these as little dialogues… based off of real situations.  I am also not interested in boring myself typing out what the therapist reaction would be and you are probably more than capable of improvising that part on your own.

okay so…

example number 1

Bipolar person- “This agitation is just killing me.  I just feel like i need to peel my skin off. It starts every night and I can’t stand it.  What can I do?”

Therapist says- therapist stuff

Fellow Bipolar says- “Turn on your clothes dryer and then press your forehead down on it so that it vibrates your skull”


Example number 2

Bipolar person- “Around 4:00 for like no reason at all I just feel so helpless and angry and frustrated.  I feel like there is this thing inside me and I just CANNOT stand it.  It drives me crazy and I want to explode.”

Therapist says- therapist stuff

Fellow Bipolar says- “Put cheap dishes into pillow cases and keep them handy and then when you feel that coming on throw one down the stairs.”


Bipolar person- “I am so depressed.  I feel so helpless and the thought intrusions are so bad.  I have no idea why but I can’t stop thinking about smashing chairs on the concrete steps.

Therapist says- ____________    Therapist thinks- “holy shit”

Fellow Bipolar says – “Why don’t you snap chopsticks or pencils in half.  Maybe you just need to hear splintering wood.”


Bipolar person says- “I just don’t know what to do with myself.  I am afraid of myself.  Afraid of my own hands.  I feel so out of it…I just want to drink or SOMEthing.

Therapist says- therapist stuff.

Fellow Bipolar says- “squeeze ice cubes as hard as you can until you wear yourself out.”



I think you get it.

No therapist is going to tell you those things.

And if they are it is because they have a friend who is Bipolar who told them that things like that worked for them.

And then you should probably say …

“So should I just make this check out to your friend then….?……Do you think you could give me her email?…..”


They can’t help us like that.

They don’t get it.

It’s not their fault.


They go to school…they learn about all of this stuff……they think they know all of this stuff….

and then one day a Bipolar walks in and sits down on the couch

and guess fucking what?

This shit is DIFFERENT  than the couple who was just sitting there because he is having an affair….

different from the woman with the panic attacks and the aging mother

different from the man whose father thinks he is a failure…..

different even from the person struggling with intense anxiety…

and yeah still VERY different from the depressed guy who was sitting there earlier….

Because this is Bipolar

and Bipolar is different

and everything about it makes everything about us and everything about how we live our lives


We simply don’t participate in the world in the same way.  Whether we feel like we are “defined” by our “illness” or not…it doesn’t matter.

Bipolar drags you through “experiences” in your life that cannot help but shape you and all of the tiny little particles of back and forth interaction with the world through whatever channel whether it is physical or emotional or intellectual or spiritual…there is some sort of other in there that is not going away and it makes us different.

mAYbe not even cRAzy…..just different.

(and awesome)


So yeah maybe some day you will be able to Google…”Bipolar therapy” and get therapists who ONLY deal with Bipolar.




The number one reason why I think the Bipolar handbook tells us we need to have a therapist is that it is good to have a mental health professional keep tabs on you.  The Pdoc is one but most of us don’t seem to get to see them that often.

Enter therapist.

A person who gets to know you and just sort of keeps an eye on you.

Maybe it can save you in the end.


That would have been a poignant ending


instead I have to add that I have not ever really had one who was good at sussing out my real emotional state.

As we talked about before I have often had to CONVINCE these people that I am depressed or manic or anxious.


In fact one time I was super buzzy manic….sittin’ on the sofa having a little session….distractedly thinking about how when I left I was going to find some cigarettes and somebody to go out drinking with me…..

and the therapist actually said to me at THAT moment…

“Sometimes I forget you have Bipolar Disorder because you are just so together.”



Maybe I will leave it there instead.





Add Yours
  1. lolabipola

    Oscar’s for both of us! Or maybe all of us? Yeah, likely all of us… I think we get so good at hiding our shit precisely because nobody fucking understands it!!! Or maybe they just don’t see it because they don’t understand it?

    I must say, I think my GP is pretty switched on. I went to see him just before I was diagnosed – granted, I did say to him, “I think I have bipolar” so that might have made him more open to seeing “the signs” – I actually thought I was pretty under control at the time, but the next time I went to see him, he said, “Well, you’re looking and sounding more stable.” – I cocked my head to one side and said, “Oh really? Why do you say that?” – he refers to his notes and says, “The last time I saw you, you were talking very fast and tangentially, but now your speech is slower and normal” – fancy that. Slower speech. When I’m feeling a bit depressed… Hmmmm

    Liked by 1 person

  2. darie73

    Surprisingly the Doctor with the biggest influence on me and the most compassionate is my Hematologist/Oncologist. He was the first Doctor to ever encourage me to learn all I can about my diagnosis and to advocate for myself. No one else has ever done that. I have been discouraged from doing it. When I ask questions some Doctors have even gotten annoyed. As far as “skills” go I forget them as soon as I learn them. I only remember one about picturing a stop sign. My twin sister had to give a family history to a Neurologist/Psychiatrist. When she got to the part about my being Bipolar and having Conversion Disorder the Doctor stopped her. He had tears in his eyes. He said to her “Your sister must suffer so much. I wouldn’t wish her situation on anyone.” Do you think this changed my sister’s attitude toward me? Nope. Sometimes you can’t win.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bipolarfirst

      Nodding. It seems like most of the time. We can’t win. We can only stay here and strong.

      They’ll never get it.

      They can only become aware that they will never get it and gain compassion. and in order to do that that have to

      want to.

      And people do not like having to reevaluate their beliefs. uh uh.

      I like your comment. The doctor that meant the most to me in terms of processing it and everything was my dermatologist. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. AndrewS

    I just find therapy boring. The only good thing I ever got and dropped in my pocket and rubbed in my hand until it shone like a semi-precious stone was: try to correct your extreme thinking and intense emotional responsiveness to EVERYTHING when dealing with mundane affairs and muggles because: you need a roof, food, not to be 100% isolated, not to be drinking whiskey under a bridge (my specialty), cuz it leads to psyche wards and morgues and detox centers and to my other specialty, waking up shoeless in the leaf litter you tend to find around dumpsters. It was good, sound advice and I have consciously heeded it. Otherwise, idk, my ego gets in the way, I think I’m more intelligently aware of all my complex, churning emotions than anyone else, and more probing of them, and my shifting, ambivalent relation to them sharper and more finely slanted. (Maybe because they’re mine?) Mostly, during the rare times I was forced to go, was just me monologuing about my withering misery and how much it sucked. Also, practically speaking, an hour of talking is umsatisfying. None of this is to knock therapy. I think therapy for isolated people is really terrific, a gleam of vital human warmth in the really primal and quite lethal anguish of loneliness, and I think therapy for trauma-based suffering, something like borderline, is probably essential. But speaking personally, for my variant of this endlessly variegated bipolar business, therapy is three liquid capsules of valproic acid three times a day, which in a mere three days lifted my doom cloud and obsessive grief rumination/apoplectic emotional stasis to the extent that I can sit still in the present for long periods of time and live fairly raptly in the alternate dimension of my imagination. Really, the one time I liked going to therapy was during the most intense period of that post-divorce grief meltdown, when no one around me wanted to hear about it anymore, and it was a place I could go and say, I’m sad, and she would say, It takes time, and I would reply, I’m still sad, and she would say, It takes time, and there was a certain soothing monotony in our flow of banal repetition. It was like talking to a decent friend who wasnt bored of my dolor because I’m paying them to not to be, or plausibly pretend. I will stop before this become its own blog post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bipolarfirst

      Don’t blame yourself!!!!

      No way. I hope you read all of this comments and saw how you are so not alone.

      Therapy is no simple, sure fire, single shot, thing.

      And you are in the RIGHT place here in the Bipolar internet community. You will learn tons from all of these people.

      I never really started processing this Bipolar stuff until I got out of therapy and onto the internet.


  4. Screaming Jean

    Oh my god I love this post, so fucking true, every damn thing you said to me. I loved the examples, I recently got in touch with a girl I was in college with (before my manic periods started) and she was bipolar, I was talking to her a lot recently and as your examples give. Me to doctor ‘The only thing helping to calm me at the moment is 1 valium in the evening, nothing else works and I feel I am losing my mind’ Doctor ‘oh no we cannot continue with those, way too addictive.’ then friend who understands ‘I’ll get the same drug dealer I use for my valium to get you some to take every now and then you feel panicky, they did the same thing to me.’

    But like you say, these people, therapists, psych docs etc, they start out life completely normal, holding down normal jobs, getting married, having children, no real health worries, they go into the study of mental health for whatever reason and they are taught things, they read things and take it all in and soon become doctors to treat us. But when one of US, walk through the door and sit down, they ain’t got a fucking scooby doo what to say apart from spew out book taught bullshit.

    Liked by 1 person

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