Disappointing Loved Ones Because My Bipolar Won't Improve

May 24, 2018 Natasha Tracy


I'm tired of disappointing my loved ones because my bipolar won't improve. I'm tired of looking at my doctor's face as I tell him that the new bipolar treatment isn't really making things better. Their disappointment becomes my disappointment. I feel disappointment in me too. Of course, When bipolar won't improve, disappointment is natural, but it's the disappointing my loved ones that twists the knife.

My Bipolar Won't Improve

This is not to say that treatment isn't helping my bipolar disorder, because it is. The issue is, we've plateaued, and not at a wellness level that I think is good enough. Many people are in this situation. Medication keeps them alive but they can never truly get out of their bipolar depression. I'm like that. I'm alive. I'm not going to kill myself. But life seems entirely pointless due to anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure). That single depression symptom really is enough to make you dread waking up in the morning.

Telling My Loved Ones My Bipolar Won't Improve

And it's really horrible having to tell people that my bipolar disorder hasn't improved. My genuine loved ones really do want to know how I am when they ask, "How are you?" and my answer is pretty much always this, "the same."

I'm the same. I'm the same mess that I was yesterday. I'm the same mess I was a week ago. I'm the same tangle-of-unfortunate-things as I was a month ago. I'm the same.

And my loved ones look at me with this look. They look at me with their own hurt and disappointment. People who love you want you to get better. People who love you don't want you to be in pain. People who love you experience their own pain because of yours. It sucks for them and it sucks for me. I hate being the source of that for people. 

Is Disappointing Others Because My Bipolar Won't Improve My Fault?

I feel like disappointing these people is my fault. I suppose I feel this more strongly because of the depression, but I feel it, nonetheless.

Of course, this is like blaming yourself because you have to tell people you have cancer. 

It's wrong on its face.

I need to place the blame where it belongs: on the bipolar disorder. 

I am not disappointing people, the bipolar disorder is. The immovable rock that is a serious mental illness is disappointing my loved ones. Chalk up another bipolar disorder casualty.

So while I'm sick of being the carrier of disappointment, it truly isn't my fault. I know that may seem unimportant to some, but this fact is important to me. Because it truly is hard to see that look on their faces. And I need some protection from my own blame for that. 

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2018, May 24). Disappointing Loved Ones Because My Bipolar Won't Improve, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Jojo reeves
June, 2 2018 at 5:05 pm

This is how I’m feeling now

June, 27 2019 at 7:18 pm

I have an adult daughter, 33yrs. She was only diagnosed with bipolar disorder last year. She is still struggling to get consistent care. Lately there have been times we've invited her over for dinner or just to stop and say hi. She only lives a mile from us but I never see her. We have had plans to get together and at the last moment she cancels, saying she is in a bad place for visiting. And Yes, it disappoints, horribly. I know that it is not her but the disorder. I don't blame her. I want her to be better able to cope but the disappointment is horribly painful. I've gotten to the point that I can't ask her to come again and have her cancel again and predictably. I think I'm going to have to try and be patient and wait for her to contact me when she is ready to have in person contact. It's just so hard to be turned away so much. I don't want her to think I've given up on her, but my asking her over doesn't seem to be the right thing for her. What do I? I feel like I'm losing my daughter. It's gone from being comfortable and dropping by to having to make an appointment to see her. I hate that it feels like she's a visitor instead of family member. The distance just keeps getting bigger. I don't know what to do.

June, 28 2019 at 8:59 am

Hi Theresa,
I can understand your disappointment and pain when your daughter is unable to visit. This is normal. None of us like being canceled on -- especially by someone we love so dearly.
But I want to tell you something that mentally ill people often say: just because we can't go, please don't stop asking.
What we mean is that we want to feel loved and wanted even if our illness keeps us from attending so often. It is for this reason that I wouldn't recommend just not asking her. That might result in further isolation for her and you don't want that. Also, if she's feeling depressed, she may read into your lack of invitations in a very negative way.
The best thing you can do is to sit down and have a real conversation about your feelings and her feelings. Tell her what's going on from your perspective and tell her that you're hurt. Ask her how she's feeling. What does she want? How can you and she come to an agreement together? Is there a comprimise you can make that will work? Can you set up a standing date where you drop by with dinner, for example? That way she gets something healthy to eat and you get to visit every week.
Right now you're trying to go by your feelings and intuit hers. That's never going to be as effective as talking to her directly.
I also highly recommend you learn more about this illness. It is complicated and requires a lot of education both for her and for you.
You can learn a lot here at HealthyPlace:
But there's also a book I wrote that I think could help a lot (not associated with HealthyPlace):
Good luck. You're at a hard spot right now, but it can get better. And remember, even if she's not saying it, your support is everything.
- Natasha Tracy

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