Is Bipolar Having a Broken Brain?

May 31, 2022 Natasha Tracy

If you have bipolar disorder, do you have a broken brain? This depends on a lot of things, such as your definition of "brain" and "broken." I feel that I have a broken brain with bipolar disorder, and, more importantly, I find that perspective very helpful in battling bipolar disorder.

What Is a Broken Brain in Bipolar Disorder?

I guess the easiest way to conceptualize a broken brain is to imagine Humpty Dumpty's head after he had a big fall. That's not what I mean when I say I have a broken brain because of bipolar disorder.

According to, the fourth definition of "broken" is:1 

"not functioning properly; out of working order."

That's what I mean when I say "broken brain." I mean that my brain doesn't work properly. I mean that bipolar has broken my brain.

Why Does Having a Broken Brain in Bipolar Matter?

I find thinking of my brain as broken is actually really helpful. You see, "mental illness" tends to be really nebulous.

"You have bipolar disorder."

What does that mean? It may mean that there are chemicals in your brain that are out of whack. It may mean that there are hormones in your body running amock. It may mean that structures in your brain are abnormal. It may mean a lot of things. And because bipolar disorder affects a person very intimately, affecting how they think, feel, and act, it starts to feel like all they are is bipolar disorder. Of course, we know this isn't true. We know bipolar disorder is something that you have, not something you are. It's something that sits atop you like a blanket, not a bacteria that infects your cells.

But I will be the first to admit that it can be hard to remember this. That's why understanding that bipolar disorder attacks and breaks your brain is so critical. Remembering that can help you separate from the illness. Bipolar attacks and breaks your brain like cancer might attack and break your lungs. Even though lung cancer might affect every breath, you still differentiate from it. Even though bipolar disorder might affect your every thought, you must still differentiate from it.

So remember this: bipolar disorder breaks your brain, not you. You may feel broken from time and time, and that makes sense because your brain is such a big part of your everyday life, but it is not you. You are so far beyond a mere organ. So, think of your broken brain as a way to separate yourself from your illness. That particular break is important.


  1. Definition of broken. (2022). Www.Dictionary.Com. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2022, May 31). Is Bipolar Having a Broken Brain?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 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.

Michel Marion
July, 27 2022 at 7:03 am

I suffer from bipolar disorder because I had a tumor removed from the right frontal lobe of my brain in 1992. At the time I had 3 suicide attempts in 2 months following the surgery. Was placed in the psych ward for 30 days and finally tried don Lithium. Voila! My depression lifted. Later transitioned to Valproic Acid... a mood stabilizer. I call them my happy pills. No more depression since. I am high on life right now. I love myself and have better control of my emotions now. Happy to be alive.

Leave a reply