10 things you should never say to someone with bipolar disorder

Don’t take a leaf out of clothing store Joy’s book. I may have bipolar but it’s not what I am. And enough with the Stephen Fry comparisons


On Monday, high-street clothing store Joy was forced to make an apologyafter not only stocking a product offensive to people with bipolar disorder, but then also managing to offend people who pointed out its offensiveness. Matryoshka dolls of offence, if you will.

As part of its accessories range, Joy is selling a card bearing the message: “Don’t get mad, take lithium”.

card
 The card Joy is selling with a bipolar-related slogan. Photograph: Twitter

When challenged about marketing a product which trivialises mental illness, Joy responded on Twitter: “If you know anyone with bipolar disorder, then don’t buy it for them. PROBLEM SOLVED.”

Joy’s social media guru idiot was then asked how someone with bipolar might feel if they happened to see the card in a store. Their response: “They’ll like it one minute and hate it the next?”

Mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness called Joy’s comments“deeply offensive”, “aggressive” and “obnoxious”, while former Labour strategist and mental health campaigner Alastair Campbell saidthe comments proved a “deep ignorance about the reality of mental ill health”.

Language is an interesting thing. Our choices inspire a multitude of reactions. Language around mental health is especially difficult. In this instance, many people vowed never to set foot in a Joy store again, while other people with bipolar disorder took to Twitter to say they couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.

I can’t speak for everyone with bipolar; we are 1-3% of the world’s population after all, but here are a few pointers on what not to say to someone with the illness.

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