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  • Writer's pictureRaveena Kay

5 positive traits for those with Bipolar disorder- it's not JUST creativity!

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

#mentalhealth #mentalstrength #bipolardisorder #mentalillness #empowerment #breakingthestigma

After reading "Finding the Positive Side of Bipolar disorder" by Elizabeth Forbes, here are strengths people have when being diagnosed with bipolar disorder (BPD). A study reviewed 81 research articles and found that people with BPD have a strong association with five qualities: spirituality, empathy, creativity, realism, and resilience.

Disclaimer: People with BPD should still follow their treatment plan. BPD still causes a lot of distress on relationships, work and other occupations when not treated properly. This article talks more about how the experience of someone with BPD creates strong-minded leaders/individuals.

1. People with BPD are spiritual. People with BPD tend to be spiritual due to their manic experiences that bring them closer to religion. They also may become more spiritual after their episodes as a way to comfort potential relapses that are out of their control. According to the article, an interviewee states that during deep depressive episodes she can't feel hope; however, faith reassures her that this period will end. Thus, she states:

"I feel a common bond and energy with all of humanity.… I feel God has challenged me with this illness so I would develop empathy for others and not take anything I do have for granted.”

2. They have a balance of being realistic and optimistic. Research into “positive cognitive bias” shows that people without a mental illness tend to overestimate both their own capabilities and their control over the environment, as well as interpret events with an overly optimistic lens. People with BPD experience "depressive realism" which helps them to assess situations more clearly while also "having the greater flexibility of mind and high tolerance for risk that go along with hypomania".

3. People with BPD are leaders/innovators. The author Ghamei, who is a psychiatrist at the Moods Disorder Program at Tufts wrote a book called A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links between Leadership and Mental Illness. He states that leaders with depression or BPD are better equipped for times of crisis. This is probably because they've experienced personal crises all their life! There is an example of a guy who believes his traits of BPD type 1 gave him the right traits for sales. He states,“If you leverage it properly and don’t go overboard, it’s amazing the things you can do.” He believes he has better problem-solving and communication skills due to his disorder. He also feels that he was able to manage a lot more tasks due to his diagnosis. He created and runs the nonprofit BrainStorm Career Services for Psychiatric Disability, a subsidiary of DBSA Colorado Inc., while holding down a day job. Nice job Steve.

4. They are resilient. According to the article, "Ghaemi summarizes the psychological view of resilience as an interaction between temperament and adversity. In conversation, he points to research that suggests having a hyperthymic temperament (aka: increased energy and productivity. short sleep patterns. vividness, activity extroversion) provides insulation against post-traumatic stress disorder". So basically, people with BPD experience trauma while in depressive and manic episodes; however, a lot of people with BPD are extremely relieved after hearing their diagnosis because they know it isn't their fault. Once they are able to find the right medications and therapy treatments, they have greater insight into their experience and are better able to understand others.

“I’ve been in the deepest pits that I have ever been in, some of them dug by myself, and I can climb out of them,” he says. “I also know that the next thought is just a feeling. If I am suffering a depression, it’s just depression. It’s not really based in anything other than maybe some chemistry.”- Tazz

5. They are empathetic. This is because they have gone through extreme despair and extreme euphoria so they understand all spectrums of emotions. They are the loyal friends/family members that will listen attentively and advise only when appropriate. They're the people that will listen, observe, and understand strangers and acquaintances at a greater depth than a person without a mental illness. They're empathy creates amazing healers, leaders, business people, comrades, partners, and family members.

So there you go! The positive traits that are NOT just creativity. One of my favorite quotes by the author, Gahemi is:

"Depression enhances empathy and realism and the mania enhances creativity and resilience … so when people have bipolar disorder, they have the full gamut of benefits”.


Raveena Kay

About the author: Raveena Kay was born and raised in a Chicago-land suburb and currently resides in Chicago. Dog-lover, occupational therapist, entrepreneur, and now novice blogger, she hopes through humor, insight, and research her blogs will foster better relationships between people, improve one’s self, and increase one’s mental strength.

Through her background in psychology, sociology, and occupational therapy she hopes to inspire others to think critically about social issues and create more social activists.

She will also use her own Punjabi-American upbringing as well as her experiences throughout her child/adulthood to hopefully reach a wide array of people who are dealing with mental health issues, family issues, identity crises, or personality hindrances in order to create a more introspective community.


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