Maybe we shouldn’t call it “Self Harm”…Maybe we should call it “Bipolar is Trying to Kill Me”

(This is not actually a post about cutting.)



This is a post about Bipolar and destruction and the reverse of the natural state.

I bring it up as “self harm”

I feel that “self harm” is another one of those things that we are SO judged for.

Just another thing that isn’t how it sounds…


I just think that it conjures up for people the idea of crazy people being stupid for attention.

Like they are thinking what kind of sicko would “WANT” to do that to themselves?


And to be fair it does sound really fucking weird.

and ya know what

it FEELS really fucking weird to think like this!


I think this concept though is SO misunderstood by us and them and I think it goes way beyond cutting.

Way beyond “self harm”

In fact I don’t actually even think it is oNE concept at all.


First I want to point out that complete override of the natural human brain  thought processes thing again.

That Bipolar does this to us…that this happens in our brains.

We human animals are supposed to WANT to survive.

We are supposed to want to avoid pain

and we are supposed to want to avoid situations which would put us at risk for these things….


Bipolar flip flops these things into themselves.

It is a wonder that these Bipolar genes have survived.  You would think this would be kind of an evolutionary deal breaker.


The first kind of self harm I think of is kind of the run of the mill understanding of it….

It is that need to get something external to counter the internal…

to produce rather than be acted upon…

to be active rather than passive in the face of it..

to do SOMEthing ANYthing to release some of whatever the hell it is that is inside.


In this way self harm for me occupies the same plane as art……

I know right

I will say right now that I have no experience with cutting and therefore am not going to touch it.

As I said though…these ideas go beyond it…..

There are other forms of “harm”.

I feel like I am being compelled here to share shit in order to make my point better.


This is complicated and not as simple as just this.  But for me…purging is a form of THIS kind of self harm.

It is an embarrassingly obvious attempt to get something out.

I mean seriously…

For me there was never binging.

Just this genius idea.


And as I said…I feel purging and painting live in the same place in me.

Go figure.

I have not purged in a decade.

I have a lot of paintings.


Art is a purge.

What can I say?


And all of this writing we do seems to be as well….

Get it OUT!

Get it on paper…

get it onto the screen

get it into some else’s ears…




But Okay….That is one way to look at self harm….

as this sort of “expression”…

as an attempt to gain some “control’….

an attempt to match something on the outside to something on this inside…


But what about the other “Self Harm”…?

The one that is actually Bipolar wanting to kill you.

The one that has nothing to do with you and your control and your feelings and your trying…

This is the one that is all about Bipolar trying to break you.


Bipolar wants to destroy us but it wants to make it look as if it was done by our OWN hand.


It does not feel like YOU “want” to hurt yourself……

It feels like there is something other in you that wants you dead.


And that is the weirdest feeling EVER.


Am I right or am I right?


And not only does it want you dead but it also wants you to destroy….














on the way


And I don’t know that Bipolar gives a fuck HOW you do that.

Bipolar is a very creative beast in this regard and is willing to offer up all kinds of fabulous suggestions.

And the deeper you get

and the more pain that you feel

the harder and harder it becomes to realize what is happening…


the harder and harder it gets to


that it is happening.


Score for Bipolar.


Because once the invasion has spread to your WILL….

you waver in your ability to fight.

And that

is EXactly

what Bipolar




The term “self destruct” comes to mind.

But I don’t like it.

It implies somehow that there is something in the SELF that wants to destroy and be destroyed.

And this is so far from the truth of it.


It is not the SELF that wants to destruct and it is not the SELF that wants to harm.


The ways in which Bipolar can do this to us are myriad and individual.

and sometimes not the expected or the obvious.


Most involve just not caring about ourselves…..

wE stop caring about eating

or about what we are eating

we lose both the ability and the will to take basic care of things…showering…refilling the soap dispenser doing the laundry (oh fuck the stupid laundry!!!)

if we suffer from other conditions in addition to the Bipolar we may lose the motivation to deal appropriately with them.

You stop thinking ANYthing through…….

Who cares?


Fuck it

become your mantras

“I’ll just stay up a little more…”

“Sure I’ll go…..”

“I’ll have another one…yeah its fine”


Hitting the door of a party with the intent to trash yourself as hard as possible.  Also very obviously fits in here.

smoking as hard as you can…(while it can be self medicating) may also fit in here.

as do other drugs

and other


risky behaviors.


In my own dorky way this can even manifest as

“What the fuck I will eat the pizza that has been sitting out for hours.  Who cares.  I just wanna die anyway.”

sigh eye roll headshake


And all of these things seem like small offerings to Bipolar

because they don’t come close to satisfying Bipolar.


We feel the constant pull….the powerful undertow of Bipolar….

pulling us toward destruction….

as if it won’t be happy…won’t rest…won’t stop

until we are face down in some gutter

or something equally repulsive and shaming.


There are so many ways Bipolar sneaks into every crevice and fills us with that most dangerous and potent combination……

Pain AND Apathy


Because it knows that when those two things are combined…

hard enough…for long enough

It has a victory at hand.


And this is where I will admit to you that my purging was ALSO a part of this second idea of Self Harm….

The Bipolar wants me to destroy myself part


Because it seems like a great way to be hurt…

a great way to damage your body

your self


and for some reason

that feels good

when you are in the throws of this horrible Bipolarness.


Yeah I said it


The awareness that you are harming yourself feels “good”…


and that is FUCKED UP guys


And people Act Like we are all Crazy and Fucked up and just not trying to “help ourselves”

or are “making it worse”

or “wanting attention”

and all of that

and it is like





I don’t “want” it at all.


I don’t want any of this.


But it is happening anyway.


Anybody know One Republic’s song Counting Stars….

“I feel something so right doing the wrong thing.

I feel something so wrong doing the right thing.

I could lie, couldn’t I, couldn’t I.

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.”

No.  we don’t ask for this.  It is another symptom of Bipolar.

Another hideous thing to deal with

to battle

to fight

to endure


to hold up against


while everyone around you

looks on





And here is the thing…

The fact that it feels good to harm yourself feels horrible.


Bipolar what have you done?



I want to whip this around and pull it together to be empowering and encouraging at the end and perhaps it is super immature but the only thing I’ve got in my mind right now is..



I mean really.

You guys understand

When you’ve been through this shit….

you know



Awareness.  it always comes back to awareness right.

This isn’t meant to be depressing.


This is supposed to shine that little light again so that maybe it can stream through that Bipolar clouded brain and you can think….

“Fuck you Bipolar maybe I WILL eat lunch….how do you like that Bitch?”

and while you’re at it maybe…

“No! you know what, Bipolar….I think two beers IS ENOUGH. So why don’t you get the hell out of here.”

and or

“Watch this, Bipolar!  I’m going to take my PRN and a shit ton of melatonin and I am GOING TO BED!”


I think that is important.


We can’t fight it if we can’t see what it is doing to us.

and over and over I think that awareness is what saves us.

…you hear that voice behind you…”You’re a loser…everything is would be better if you were dead….you can’t handle this can you…why don’t you go do………..”.

smack it away and say

“Bipolar! Get out of here you little shit!”


So yeah. “self harm”


interesting little term

a loaded little term

an inaccurate little term

people have immediate reactions to it.


ignorant reactions…


persevering in the face of ignorant judgment is sort of in our wheel house.

we rock that shit


Add Yours
  1. prideinmadness

    That One Republic lyric really stood out to to me when I first heard it.

    Self harm is so many things as you’ve pointed out. I never wanted to hurt myself but I felt so horrible that I would rather hurt myself in that way than feel the sadness, anger or anxiety. I guess it’s more of a game of “would you rather”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • bipolarfirst

      Thank you. Yes. It is so much more complicated then just one reason, one conceptual understanding.

      The other lyric too….”everything that drowns me makes me want to fly…”

      It is so weird how we hear Bipolar in songs that aren’t about Bipolar.

      Liked by 1 person

      • prideinmadness

        I think there is a lof of overlap in feelings. I remember when I first started attending a peer support group I was in a room with people who had addictions, OCD, anorexia and I was the only one with BPD. As we started talking, I realized that we all had similar feelings (ie: fear, sadness, frustration) they just showed themselves differently (ie: anger, withdrawing) or we coped with them differently (ie: cutting, using substances, restricting food).


  2. AndrewS

    Great post. Pain and apathy indeed are the devil’s brew. Throw in a little hypo agitation and Buddha himself be popping benzos. I have tried to point, out, incidentally, that bipolar wasn’t an evolutionary deal-breaker for the simple reason that bipolar hunter-gatherers — or the people naturally on our end of the psycho-mood-energetic spectrum — simply never became maladaptive to their life ways. Simple evidence for this: no recorded suicides among immediate-return hunter-gatherers (technical term, sorry, think earliest and most similar to our deep ansestors and thus most closely approximating Real People); no vernacular words for stress, worry, anxiety; I could go on. I love delving into this question. Obviously have sharp opinions few people share! But one day, when the ideology of progress has become untenable even to former Google executives scrounging in the trash heaps of imploded cites, my lonely little book self-published on Amazon will be taught in post-collapse campfire classrooms. Haha. You heard it hear first. Though, erm. It won’t be taught. The pages will be torn out to feed the fire.

    Liked by 1 person

      • AndrewS

        Nah, jus those five posts are my total posts. I think what I said in “Thoughts” gives a coloring of the meadow I’m calling from. My six year obsession with all that ended three years ago, and took three years to recover from, and was a large part of what I have now taken to calling My Three Years Of Madness, so I let it a bubble out a little, but no more serious thinking on the subject! Someone else will take up the torch in time. For me, All’s well that ends well, and it ended well; so now, in the words of a dead white poet, I’m wriggling and often splatting in bed, toward fresh woods, and pastures new.

        So! I get to just be the resident crank who sometimes jabbers on, inexplicably, semi-dementedly, possibly rationally about hunter-gatherers and Real People 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. asher

    “Bipolar wants to destroy us but it wants to make it look as if it was done by our OWN hand.”

    Yes. This ^^^ right here!

    From the outside, I think people have difficulty understanding that this is best understood as part of the disease process — not a function of volition, but of the frayed wiring that makes volition an irrelevant question.

    I sometimes explain it to people who haven’t been there as being similar to an autoimmune disease: in auto-immune diseases (which range from simple allergies to crippling rheumatic disorders and beyond), the immune system — which is essential to survival; which is supposed to be there to help — turns against and sometimes even destroys the body it evolved to protect; it tries to harm or kill the host, even though the host is also itself; even though by harming the host, it’s harming itself.

    A part of one’s being turns and begins doing harm, no matter what one wants.

    Bipolar works the same way — some part of us goes haywire and turns, if you will, against its host even though by harming the host, it harms itself.

    Some of the grave danger, as you point out, lies in the fact that the survival instinct itself is involved.

    Thank you for writing about this. Words like yours are definitely words that should be heard.

    Liked by 3 people

    • AndrewS

      This is great. My ex-wife had a terrible auto-immune reaction disease when she finally reached “a safe place”. In that case, silent grief building and building, then exploding when the conditions of survival have eased a bit and warmth enters a life. But the process is, you’re right, a perfect physical analogy to what happens when the bipolar brain plunges down the rabbit hole: and makes an enemy of its own kingdom.

      Liked by 1 person

      • asher

        Many thanks, Andrew — and I hope things have improved for your wife. Auto-immune stuff can be hard to sort. Also, I love that turn of phrase, “… makes an enemy of its own kingdom.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • AndrewS

        Ex wife, but indeed they have improved, very much. She was in severe chronic pain for five years, nearly an elderly invalid, but in time she healed out of it. Now she has a nice life in Hawaii as a hospice nurse and a close circle of friends. She’s a true survivor of trauma who crossed, with a lot of grit and grace, to the other side. Our time is past, but her example still inspires:)

        Liked by 1 person

    • AndrewS

      You know, reflecting, I think your analogy could get stretched further. Think of all that unconscious psychic torment building up, even in the happiest childhoods (given that we all live on Planet Apocalypse Now), from birth to kid to teenager and young adult. A lot of unconscious psycho-energetic torment gets built, however buried, however outwardly happy one may be. Different pricks and different kicks for each of us, but maybe not such a coincidence bipolar is, so to speak, a late bloomer, and announces itself very commonly in people in their late teens and early twenties. (Even when first “bipolar II depression” put me down like a dog for two years. Personally, I think we’re all in the Dark Ages of understanding this. Because you first have to understand what a human being is before you can fathom what ails her, and him. Okay, done commenting for the night! Didn’t mean to hoard your blog! Just a good convo:)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. lolabipola

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Its an ambiguous little term that, “self-harm”. I totally get your understanding of it – its how I understand self-harm too – its not just physically cutting yourself – it involves (for me, in my own understanding of it) all of the destructive behaviours the bipolar manifests in us. I know that not only people with bipolar self-harm (I haven’t in the traditional sense, but have in others – drinking, drugs, sex), and so I agree with asher ^^^ – its that faulty wiring in our disordered brains, not matter which disorder causes it – its the wiring – not us.

    Liked by 3 people

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