Daily Archives: May 4, 2012

Research Explores the Positives of Bipolar Disorder

Well look at that! Some people in the medical field have finally caught on and began researching what I’ve heard dozens of folks with bipolar disorder saying since the moment I started learning about it.

It appears that some researchers (in Lancaster, England) have interviewed 10 people (between the ages of 24 and 57) diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and the study reported that these people had all identified things that they considered “positive” attributes or abilities derived from having bipolar disorder.

Shocked? I’m not.

“Participants described a wide range of experiences and internal states that they believed they felt to a far greater intensity than those without the condition. These included increased perceptual sensitivity, creativity, focus and clarity of thought.”

The article goes on to explain that some people have also derived positive experiences from the depression they experienced, including greater empathy for the suffering of others.

This quote, by Dr. Fiona Lobban (who led the study) was the most conclusive and well spoken portion of the article:

“It is really important that we learn more about the positives of bipolar as focusing only on negative aspects paints a very biased picture that perpetuates the view of bipolar as a wholly negative experience. If we fail to explore the positives of bipolar we also fail to understand the ambivalence of some people towards treatment.”

Personally, there is no question in my mind that there are positive aspect that are often associated with bipolar disorder. Now, having said that, I genuinely don’t know (and don’t think anyone does) if those aspects are caused by the disorder, already within us but enhanced by the disorder, or things we experience coincidentally. It seems like this study was really just to explore the fact that positive aspects do exist in regard to bipolar disorder, but did not conclude much more.

There is a long list of positive things I’ve heard associated with bipolar disorder, and though the frustration associated with “episodic living” can very easily blot out our perception of those positives from time to time, I would encourage you (if bipolar) to consider if you feel you’ve gained anything positive from living with this disorder. A few common themes I’ve heard are:

Resiliency
Creativity
Greater Focus
Greater Productivity
Empathy
Greater Spirituality
Greater Sensory Experiences
Strategic Prowess

Would eradication of bipolar disorder mean the eradication of these things in our lives? I feel like that is something people are contending with every day when they are confronted with the idea of taking pharmaceuticals. Personally, I don’t think it is that simple. If bipolar disorder was magically removed from my life tomorrow, I can’t imagine it making me any less empathetic. Or creative. But what do I know? I’m just a chick sitting at a computer.

For most of us it is seen as both a gift and a curse, however corny that may sound.   Some days a little more gift, others a little more curse.

You can read the full article here…