What does Bipolar look like?


I’m curious if you would be brave enough to share with me your first impressions of someone with Bipolar. Whether you knew them first and later discovered their mental illness? Or, for example, if you heard someone at work, who you hardly knew, has Bipolar Disorder. Your initial reaction.


As for me, some *family* called me crazy and pill-popper, and that’s just the stuff I know. The other folks I’ve told were attendees at the same church as myself (some years back) and *coincidentally?* these folks no longer wanted to be my friend and outright began ignoring me. As well, some stopped their children hanging out at my home and having fun with my son. My son and the kids didn’t understand. I was devastated. I’ve had the most painful things said to me from church-attendees.

Do you have good or bad stories to share? Would you care to share a photo – display the faces of Bipolar?

(I promise I will monitor and moderate replies, so that there is no cruelty and slandering.)


  1. I’ll give you a couple of examples.
    The first was a young woman in her early 20’s. I was registering her as a bride at the store where I worked…you know, going around and selecting bridal gifts for her registry.

    Somehow, I really don’t remember , I said I was bipolar. She said she was too. We both looked at each other and burst out laughing. I think it was a reaction to fact you never an tell .

    The most recent one is the lady who is watching my little dog while I recover from my auto accident.
    I’ve been paying her to watch Roscoe. She came over one night , bringing Roscoe with her. Roscoe was all happy to see me , then like 2 seconds later he ran across the room and jumped into her lap.

    Well that made me cry. Oh, I’m happy he is bonding to her, but it made me miss him so much.

    The point is , I explained to her I was bipolar and this accident had triggered a depressive episode.

    She told me she was bipolar also.

    Ok…this really surprised me because she runs her own business and is raising her 2 kids alone.

    She told me she went off her meds a few months ago because she had gained so much weight. She is using intense exercise and diet to manage her bipolar.

    I always have doubts about someone who says they are bipolar, but not medicated…..I hope she does well.

    Personally most of the time I tell people that I am bipolar , they are usually shocked .

    All they see is an attractive woman with a bright smile, …… we hide our sadness so well

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ve had similar reactions with people I have met. I’m very open about the bipolar (now) and people seem to flock towards me or in my direction. We bond over the diagnosis.
      When I was first diagnosed people commented how it made sense because I was either really ok or really not ok.
      I’ve luckily not had horrible experiences after people found out I was bipolar (that I know of).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t tell people I have bipolar disorder. Even at work they just think I’m on disability for something, but don’t know what it is. There is a woman at work who, I believe is bipolar, because she has had to take time off twice now for a “brain chemistry disorder”, her words not mine. She is a nice, hardworking woman and doesn’t “look” bipolar. LOL

    I’ve had bad experiences in my life due to my bipolar illness, but the worse is the loss of my best friend. I guess she just couldn’t handle my illness and stopped calling or answering my calls. It hurt a lot. I’m sure just about every bipolar person has had this experience. I don’t blame her. She just didn’t know how to be there for me and did the best she could do.

    I’m like Debbie who posted above. I look normal and act normal, no one would ever guess I am bipolar. LOL

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I too have sadly lost friends as result of my illness. It hurts my heart so much because it’s something that is in me and I can only do so much to control it.
      What have you done to help mend your heart after the loss of your friendships? I’m having trouble moving past the loss personally.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Some days I’m able to forgive myself for my part in the loss, and some days not. I think when I’m struggling with the depression side of things, I tend to replay in my mind…wish for a different outcome. It’s sad. You’re right.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. When I read your post it reminded me of the book I’ve been working on for many years. It is really rough and kind-of hard to follow in parts. It is stories from my life. The title is “Before You Knew, Did I Look Crazy To You?” As it contains real life events involving family and friends, I haven’t considered adding it to my blog – A Sense of Healing. I just reread what I have written so far(just under 11,000 words), and think I may dig into my journals that Ive kept since 1983, and work on the book some more. I’m rambling I know.

    Basically many people used to seem surprised I have bipolar disorder and I often wondered what folks with Bipolar were supposed to look like? To me, since my diagnosis in 1989, I have seen so many different folks with Bipolar, I know there is no one “look”

    These days, I am much less comfortable in social situations, as recent manic episodes have really taken their toll on me. I am pretty open about my diagnosis, though am a bit more selective in who I associate with.

    While I can’t post it online, I am open to sharing my story with photos privately if you ever want to read it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Exactly what does a person with bipolar look like ? me you the priest down the road who would know but boy do they care when they find out it ‘ like your contagious or something, lightning bolts are going to shoot out of your eyes if they make eye contact with you or something and infect them. I have struggled with this since childhood basically forever for me though I never had a name for it until a major blue when i snapped and could not take it any longer then after i was placed in a secure unit for a month or two they finally gave it a name they could not believe i had survived for 49 years without coming on the radar. I am so happy to find this site and like minded individuals though I am not happy so many people are suffering many in silence it took a serious incident for me to get the help i needed . I was on the worst journey my behaviour was getting so erratic and dangerous the risks I was taking were huge , I can honestly say that without my beautiful family I probably would not have survived this long . You know the thing I find the hardest is finding the motivation and controlling my recklessness and of course slowing myself down when I get excited about an idea i tend to dive in without a lifejacket everytime .
    Thankyou and keep up the good work and to all the other guys on here your awesome!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly right, Paul. What does a Person with Bipolar look like? I hope someone without BP will come forward and share. I’m glad you’re chatting here with us, Paul. Thanks for sharing. I know we’ve felt your frustrations.


  5. The first time I encountered someone I knew had bipolar was when I had a medication-induced psyhcotic reaction. My emotions and behaviors were all over the map. Though not a danger to myself or others, I knew without treatment I would escalate and be at risk. I voluntarily admitted myself to a psych hospital.

    There was mixed response when I got out. I served as a pastor and there some who left the church out of fear of me losing control. Overall, though, I was welcomed back with open arms.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. As invisible illnesses go, I’d say it’s impossible to know from the exterior what bipolar looks like, even from someone’s behavior. So much of the pain and anguish is internal and unthinkable to someone who does not have the experience. With that said, I think bipolar has many faces (more than just two!)- a spectrum of faces- and that might be why it’s so hard to pin one image, or stereotype down. Someone who is hospitalized with a psychotic episode with suicidal thoughts (aka. someone who is “in the deep end”), they will look like a ghost- limping about seemingly soullessly, not responsive to human interaction– from personal experience. Someone who has “recovered” and is “high functioning”, meaning, is able to go to work and can do normal people things on a regular basis, bipolar is not at all visible for the outsider. There is also when someone with bipolar is having a depressive episode, or a manic one. Then there is variance, individuality, in all of us. Some of us have rapid cycling bipolar, which has much more frequent lows and highs, making it more risky to suicide, and others, who are just fine after getting on the right pills. I’m very sorry about what you are going through at church– I’ve gotten many bad reactions from those who are ignorant, including my own family members and my closest friends (who are no longer my friends). When these thoughts get me down, I remind myself that all relationships come to an end, sooner or later, and these ones just were meant to end early. I hope things get better for you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Brilliant idea here. (And not dissimilar from my blog hahaha, not that that makes me biased, your blog’s just genuinely really cool!) Anyone who wants to drop me an email about a positive story with mental health please do, and I’d love to make a post about it. (Obviously sharing and crediting your page!) I have bipolar myself, and it’s my biggest worry about the condition, that it affects those around me. It takes time I reckon for people to come to terms with it, just as it does for those actually with the diagnosis, and people have got to be given time to adjust and learn in order to support in the best ways they can. Big love for this X

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bipolar looks like me. A mom of four beautiful children, who works fulltime and is in college fulltime. Who takes a cocktail of medication and goes to therapy every week, to cope and deal with it. But succeeds at looking like she doesn’t have bipolar. No one would ever know that I have it.

    It is funny that people think bipolar has a specific look. Like you should be able to spot someone with bipolar as you are walking down the street.. “Jane move to the right, that person has bipolar.Quick! And don’t stare!”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think Bipolar looks like everyone else. It really upsets me that there is this sort of stereotype for people with bipolar or mental illness. I personally have told only a certain amount of people. The reason for that is that I don’t want their rude reaction to trigger my anger (she hulk status) then I think they would run for the hills lol. Right now due to a bad episode I had, I am currently bald, maybe I look like bipolar right now. Stop judging us and let us be, trust me we have more than enough on our plate every single day. Stay strong!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Gosh this is such a great question that you raise! Thank you!

    I’ve really been thinking about it, after having read your blog, and in fact I think people view me as being less ‘mental’ (a word that has been levelled at me) now that they know I live with bipolar.

    I was only diagnosed in 2009, so was 35, and life pre meds and treatment was utterly chaotic. The hypomania followed by the horrendous lows just left people feeling as though they didn’t know me at all. And that I was ‘mental’!
    I’m now 44 and it’s only in the last 6 months that I’ve truly opened up about living with bipolar.

    There’s certainly a small group of people who step away from me, thinking they’ll catch something from me, then treat me with kid gloves after that, thinking I’m unstable.

    Largely though, I think people have felt reassured that I’m now on an even keel and that my mood swings are far less extreme than they once were; but also they sort of feel that I’m pretty normal and lead a good life, so living with a mental illness doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a freak.
    I’m not sure if that makes sense, but you’ve really got me thinking!

    Thank you for making me think about something so relevent to me.

    Keep well. x

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh blimey I’m so sorry, one more thing. I think the fact that I don’t look like ‘that mad woman at the end of the road’ (a cruel label given to an old lady near me when I was a little girl) sometimes confuses people and they think I can’t be mentally ill. That perhaps I’m perfectly fine but just want a ‘trendy’ illness! If only they knew… I’ll sign off now! You can see you’ve really struck a chord with me though!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was told that people with Bipolar are crazy and dangerous but that depression is ok and normal. I responded by handing my sick certificate in a sealed envelope confirming I have Bipolar, said its a pity I’m not depressed and left. I would have paid good money to see their faces…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Unfortunately I had to go back and see them the next day. My wind swept Einstein hairstyle look did NOT help the raised eyebrows I was met with. I looked at them calmly, sat down , smoothed my hair and said: what were you saying about Bipolar again?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. They didn’t. They um’d and ah’d but didn’t say anything TO ME. Now instead of seeing their pointed looks, I make pointed statements. Call them out on their stigma. It’s not always easy to do and sometimes it hurts – but THEY are wrong!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow. I work for a health oriented organisation. Clearly this says nothing about levels of awareness let alone humanity!! We have to flex our bipolar biceps when we can!!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Everyone has something. So, most of the time, I’d say we look like everybody else. We’re not that special 😯. Then, there are times when everyone’s “something” just has you down and defeated, or conversely, irritable and agitated. Again, we’re not that special.
    Bipolar is a gift. Our creativity, intelligence, empathy and resilience enable us to do many good things. I say, learn all you can about the “disorder” dimension. How to address it and prevent it. Then, go out into the world and do good things!

    Liked by 1 person

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