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I'm really not 100% sure what I think of this guy or his article but I do appreciate you sharing it, if for no other reason than introducing topic of dealing with peoples insensitivity in their comments~~or the major misconceptions about bipolar even within the community of people suffering from it.

I would say that I think at some point or another any of us could do with a (gently delivered?) reminder that we CAN deal with the issues at hand instead of just giving into self-doubt and self pity: a good majority of the time that same sentiment still just feels hurtful and judgmental. It all depends on our mindset at the time we receive these comments. I took from this article only thoughts making the best out of awkwardly delivered "advice" (not necessarily an avocation for handing them out.)***While I CHOSE to avoid being too critical of this article in my original post I was also struck by how someone claiming to be bipolar could be so 'flip' about it. There are some points in our recovery that we are able to make a choice to change perspective to some degree, and MANY places in recovery that it isn't even an option to make that simplest self-adjustment. If it were only a matter of deciding to be better, who would choose to stay as they were?? The one point I do agree with is how it is easy to say "But i am ill, this happened..and this....no one understands me" and let our diagnosis control instead of us taking a hands on role in leading our own recovery.

I guess even backhanded advise can be beneficial, depending on the perspective you choose to place it in. Certainly, I still would not feel comfortable saying these types of comments as a general practice though, having been on the receiving end before.:( ...Maybe a polite way of saying " I don't wanna dish out what I can't (don't wanna) take"!!

Edited by DahliMOMMA
adding an additional thought or two.
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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Dahlimomma,

I agree with you. The article that JT referred you to is not helpful. JT, you should be ashamed of yourself. What is going on with you?


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There was something both deeply disturbing and challenging about this article. It challenges those with a severe and persistent mental illness to never accept their lot, to pull themselves up by their bootstraps-- which needs to be said and heard no matter how irritating it is.HOWEVER, it largely ignores the realities we face daily and how one needs to work to this point and not simply jump into it day one.

By way of example, there have been a series of studies that concluded that people in general have limited capacity for extended self control/self regulation and that constant self control can lead to exhaustion and emotional depletion--thereby, hindering our ability to perform at capacity later (which is when we become discouraged and feel most defeated). Secondly, therapy is designed to bring about change, clients often do experience change fatigue, which can limit the potential for growth if done too quickly.

The easiest analogy is that of a body-builder where at the start (when you're puny, out of shape or completely obese) the body can only do so much before lactic acid buildup that causes that burn sensation, and soreness (not caused by lactic acid buildup) takes over (our emotional depletion point). However, over time, soreness begins to decrease and lactic acid buildup begins to be less evident as your body is more efficient at reducing it's effects on the muscle being pushed.

In a similar vein, simply "pulling yourself up by the bootstraps" ignores the very real fact that one doesn't simply do this, but must, like a bodybuilder, work at it very slowly, deliberately and mindfully before results will be seen. Starting day one of bodybuilding by bench-pressing 450lbs. will lead to immediate failure and possible damage to the muscle tissue. The trick is knowing how and when to train yourself for those moments when you do have to pull yourself up by the bootstrap (i.e., starting at 100lbs and moving slowly to 400lbs over several months or years)--- and this is where time, excellent therapy, homework and self help are most effective. In this way, getting out of bed may be all one can do the first few weeks, then bathing daily can take another 2-3 weeks, then leaving the house can take another few weeks, then driving to the store can take another few weeks-- in the end, just going from leaving the bedroom to going shopping can take 1-3 months: this is not an overnight success as the author would suggest. And in the process, if one has a negative experience, the cycle may need to be restarted several times.

In a nutshell, while the author is right at the extreme side, his failure to explain the process or even touch on it, can lead to failure, helplessness and hopelessness-- all stressors that can lead to relapse.

my 2 cents,


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Tom Wootton is a controversial figure. It's interesting to read reviews of his bookThe Bipolar Advantage on the Amazon.com page. Critics say that he must experience more mania than depression, unlike the opposite which is more common, and also that he quite possibly does not get the severe mania which renders one totally unable to function. I think he over-glamorises bipolar. Nothing wrong with accentuating the positive, but he proselytises it. Nothing wrong with harnessing the advantages BP gives you, I do (increased creativity and sharpness especially) but he ignores the reality that BP also wreaks havoc. It's not glamorous.

And I don't agree that my diagnosis was somehow saying I had to accept mediocrity. My diagnosis described why I was experiencing what I did and suggested a different treatment approach. It didn't tell me I was less than I was before. And as David said, we can't just leap directly to getting over it, that just makes you feel lonelier and invalidates your experience.

Personally, I think he's cultish. Plus, of course, this is how he earns his money.

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