Is Tom Sullivan right? Is bipolar disorder a fad? Are there people on disability who shouldn’t be?

deldis3Tom Sullivan, a Fox news contributor, stated that he thinks that bipolar disorder ” is the latest fad” and that “we all have good days and we all have bad and I don’t consider that an illness. And I don’t consider it a disability.” Story

He added that bipolar disorder is “something made up by the mental health business just to be able to give people prescriptions and keep them coming in, and keeping you — paying them money.”

deldis2I agree that many of the people who are on disability shouldn’t be entitled to benefits. I also strongly believe that pharmaceutical companies are preying on people with mental illnesses and many people are over medicated.  Many doctors get kick backs by prescribing their medications.

I actually also believe that bipolar disorder has become somewhat of a fad and that people are being diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a catch all for people who are struggling in any way.  I also think that some celebrities announce they have a mental illness for publicity reasons.

By misdiagnosing people as having bipolar disorder when they are depressed occasionally or might have slight mood swings, hurts the people who truly do have bipolar disorder  and should be getting disability benefits.  It bothers me when someone tells me that they have bipolar disorder when they have never have had a manic episode and/ or been hospitalized. Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness yet so many people who say they have bipolar disorder are not seriously ill.

Although I think Tom Sullivan was wrong in clumping everyone with mental illnesses as scam artists and part of the latest fad, I do understand why he would come to this conclusion.  There are many people out there who are told by their doctors or have diagnosed themselves with bipolar disorder who simply do not have it.  They may struggle with depression or have slight mood swings, but they do not have bipolar disorder.

There are mild forms of bipolar disorder like Cyclothymia  and Bipolar II Disorder.  I don’t think that these should qualify people  to get on disability easily.

People with bipolar disorder do not get hospitalized for mania because they want to.  They don’t deal with the mistreatment of patients at psychiatric facilities to get on a disability.  They do not choose to have a mental illness that is so debilitating.  They don’t take medications that have serious side effects because they want to either.  I doubt anyone with a  serious mental illness would ever wish their illness on anyone.  I would think that most do not want to be on disability either.

Bipolar disorder has become the latest fad in many ways. However, Tom Sullivan needs to learn more about serious mental illnesses along with many people in the media. By doing so, they could help people rather than contributing to the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness. They could educate people where to get help and let them know it is okay to seek help.

To learn more about bipolar disorder go the National Institute of Mental Health

About Michelle Clark Bipolar Bandit

I am a strong advocate for the mentally ill and have been since I was first approached by a lawyer in a psychiatric facility as a teenager. He wanted me to help him fight how the mentally ill are mistreated. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 17 after a full blown manic episode. Before that, I suffered from debilitating depression for 4 years. My goals are to help others by sharing my story and providing tips to deal with mania and depression. I often write blogs related to advocating for people like myself. I want to encourage, inspire, and educate those with #bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses and also include inspirational #quotes. I founded the group Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses and the page Mental Health Advocates United and have several social media sites that are related to bipolar disorder and/or advocacy. If you are an advocate or would like to be, I hope you join our FB group: Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses
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6 Responses to Is Tom Sullivan right? Is bipolar disorder a fad? Are there people on disability who shouldn’t be?

  1. Laiyla Lane says:

    Reblogged this on The Random Ramblings of Laiyla Lane and commented:
    I wish Bipolar Disorder was just a fad and I didn’t bloody have it. I don’t know who Tom Sullivan is but he sounds like a right muppet if you ask me!

  2. Rebekah says:

    Why does it bother you if they’ve never been hospitalized? I’ve never been hospitalized but I have it. I mean I’m not trying to get on disability because of it, is that the distinction? I have bipolar 2 which I would argue is not mild. Sure the ups aren’t quiet as high but they can be destructive nonetheless. I’ve wrecked relationships, blew money i needed, got into ridiculous situations, flunked classes, lost scholarships gotten dizzy because the thoughts were coming so fast, was convinced that all my friends were lying to me and that I needed to get away from them, been so paranoid that I’m scared to open the door in the morning or so anxious that I visit the bathroom like 5 times in an hour.

  3. Kate says:

    I agree with a lot of what you said, including the fact that there are quite a few individuals who could be capable of working but milk benefits for all their worth so they do not have to work to make a living. I appreciate your opinion on bipolar disorder and your advocacy for those who are seriously mentally ill getting the benefits that they are due as they are not fit for work. But I feel like I need to comment on one thing that you said, and I admit now that I am probably being nit picky but it is the fact that I feel like this concept should be clarified that is making me want to say something.

    You stated,

    “Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness yet so many people who say they have bipolar disorder are not seriously ill.”

    As someone who works primarily with individuals who are diagnosed with mood disorders and anxiety disorders I have to say that “illness” no matter the diagnoses falls on a spectrum. Some people may have bipolar disorder or generalized anxiety disorder and have learned the coping skills they need to get along in life with or without medication. They are fully functioning members of society. While others may be self medicating their symptoms and barely able to function as they are stuck in mania or depression; and yet still may not be considered “seriously ill.” I understand that you are trying to root out those who have read a magazine story or listened to a podcast and thought, “wow, I was totally super excited the other night, and my mind was running and I came up with all these awesome ideas.” self diagnosing themselves as having symptoms of bipolar disorder, and I respect that. But at the same time I want to make sure that you are aware that it is inaccurate to lump all those who have bipolar disorder as “seriously mentally ill.” As a side note, those who self diagnose will most likely never get benefits. A diagnoses needs to come from a psychiatric provider and proper documentation of the severity of the illness needs to be provided to SSI or DES.

    Additionally, Bipolar II can be just as debilitating as Bipolar I. While it states that a hypomanic episode may be less sever then a manic episode the fact that the moods rapidly cycle can cause more instability in the individuals life. So put simply, rather then experiencing mania for months at a time and then depression for months at a time an individual with symptoms of hypomania can go from euphoria, and feelings of personal grandiosity right down to debilitating depression where the idea of living, let alone just getting out of bed is a huge task. This change in mood can occur in the matter of a few days. This rapid cycle can go on and on if not monitored with medication. In your source for Bipolar II it states, “type II presents more frequent depressive episodes and shorter intervals of well-being.” Meaning that individuals with Bipolar II do not experience life at baseline very often if symptoms are not treated. I would argue that due to this inability to function at base line and the rapid fluctuations in mood and instability in functioning could mean that an individual with symptoms of Bipolar II, could be more so debilitating depending on the individual and their personal coping skills.

    In regards to Cyclothymia I am not as knowledgeable in this mood disorder and I attribute that to the fact that while I work with individuals everyday who experience symptoms from every section of the DSM I do not recall working with any individuals who were diagnosed with Cyclothymia, which could be attributed to the fact that, “Cyclothymia frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated. Most people’s symptoms are mild enough that they do not seek mental health treatment.” (Webmd site listed in your post). Which ideally would mean that individuals who actually experience symptoms of Cyclothymia do not request any sort of SSI or government benefits unless of course they have a dual diagnoses which results in the individual being unable to function in every day life; then this individual, I would hope would receive benefits.

    As I stated prior to my lengthy diatribe, I appreciate your overall message, that individuals who do not require assistance should not be receiving assistance; unfortunately it is not that black and white or that simple. Behavioral health is a messy field of study and work because there is nothing more complicated then the human brain, and when you add genetics, socio-cultural external stimuli and whatever else has effected that individual you get many many people with many many varying levels of functionality.


    • Thanks for your encouraging words. I understand that it is not black and white. I have considered what you said and have edited my blog as I had not conveyed what I meant correctly. However, there are people who say they have bipolar disorder who do not have it. They simply do not understand the illness and the term is used loosely.

  4. debra says:

    I suffer from bipolar disorder among others. Being diagnosed and rediagnosed multiple times and dealing with the stigma, allergic reactions to medication, failed work attempts. Trying to live without medication. Trying exercise, trying changes in diet, trying meditation, trying prayer….Trying anything and everything to be well and stay well. I have been brutalized, humiliated, abandoned, abused, left homeless, jobless, without family, almost died….BUT I WILL NOT GIVE UP.
    I would not wish mental illness on my worst enemy either. I don’t accept having to be without family or friends or work or success. With the grace of God and lots of love and support I WILL LIVE A FULFILLING LIFE. I intend to learn everything I need to and try every tool I can find to help myself and others. Bipolarity is not a fad. It is not fashionable. It is devastating and it kills.

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