Bi-polarized Perceptions Part 1: Other People

Bipolar can have a fundamental effect on my perceptions of other people. One reason why bipolar is called bi-polar, is that the person with this disorder can view a person as ALL good or ALL bad – one end of the pole or the polar opposite. This was especially true for me after my first manic/psychotic episode and diagnosis. My perceptions were fundamentally distorted.

I viewed my dad an angel, my mom as vile, myself largely despicable, a girl I was obsessed with as perfect, my aunt as a betrayer… There may have been a small piece of truth in my perceptions, but bipolar caused me to magnify these fragments of perceptions to the point that small piece was all I saw in that person. It WAS the big picture – missing the forest through the trees, so to speak. The reality is that all these people are good, not perfect, and that I wasn’t innocent, either.

It’s hard to have healthy, balanced perceptions when my mind wants to focus on one small take of somebody. It’s also very hard on other loved ones when this happens. It’s toxic to relationships. It destroys my self-image and self-perspectives.

Cognitive-behavioral-therapy (CBT), medications, and education about bipolar all helped me overcome this problem. The steps I took in the CBT I received were:

1. Draw something abstract about someone that seems distorted – say, what I feel and think when I see that girl

2. Process thoughts and feelings in writing using my picture(s) as inspiration

3. Write down a list of thoughts and feelings balanced

4. Make it a habit to think of the balanced picture of the person.

When I thought about that girl, for instance, my mind wanted to race about how wonderful and perfect she was. Instead, I “changed the train tracks” of my thinking by flipping a switch and forced myself to have healthy and accurate perceptions about her that I spent a long time processing in writings and drawings before. When she comes up, my mind can rest.

Flipping the switch that changes my mind’s train tracks is a hard skill to develop, and it starts small. Once  I could do that, changing the train tracks of my thinking became easier, and avoided a lot of train wrecks in my thinking and decisions I made.

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theothersid3

I am a male, mid thirties, diagnosed with severe bipolar I in 2004. It's a small part of my life, now. I love to write on my blog, where I am known simply as theothersid3. I have a special interest in bipolar, spirituality, philosophy, and recovery. During the day/night, I work in a factory. I spend time outside writing in my journals about many things. Some day, I hope I can help a lot of people who struggle with severe bipolar and their loved ones through what I write. This is an anonymous blog, and I'm reaching out to the world when I can, to strive for this goal of mine. My wife has enabled me to strive farther than I thought I ever could. I love you!

3 thoughts on “Bi-polarized Perceptions Part 1: Other People”

  1. I was the opposite. I viewed everyone in the negative.

    Where previously I detested personal ‘infatuations’ no I seek them out.

    My perspective is that those people who make me feel that my world is a better, brighter place are people who unwittingly give me happiness.

    I do not latch on to them personally but I do value them a great deal for the happiness of life that I get from seeing that life need not be misery and unhappiness.

    They are light in the dark to me and I do like to bask in the happiness that their light gives me.

    1. Thanks for your reply. I will describe in my next post what negatively polarized perceptions of other people and things were like. I only described the positive perceptions I experienced to keep the post a readable length. It’s possible to have some people be positive and others negative.

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