Coming to Terms
I am very vocal and open about being Bipolar. The result is a number of interactions with people that I never would have had otherwise. I’ve been privy to many tales of the suicides and catastrophes mostly from family members that watched it from outside. Periodically I will cross paths with someone who normally fires something along these lines at me, “I don’t believe you. People with problems like that don’t expose them to the world.”
To those people I respond thusly- I care as much about your society‘s rules as society cares about me.
I went through what I went through for years by myself because I told no one about the disturbing thoughts and actions. I kept them bottled up because I thought everyone had the exact same kind of problems. My own family never knew about my suicide attempts as a teenager until I was almost 30. Why? I never told a soul. It was an unwell thought process that took me down a dark road that I thought I was supposed to be able to handle on my own.
Why exactly should I, or any other mentally ill person, be ashamed of the hand dealt to us? Am I less of a person because I can still vividly recall eating out of a dumpster to survive or the acrid stench of crack smoke and excrement wafting through the husk of an apartment complex where I played my first round of Russian Roulette? Am I not entitled to happiness or an opinion because I struggled with drug and alcohol bingeing to cope? Or is it something else entirely?
I’m not ashamed of who I am or what I did in my darkest moments. Of course, I have regrets. I’m not “happy” that I’m Bipolar nor do I think I’m special because of it. However, I am happy that all of that negative experience is actually useful. All around you, people are fighting the exact same battles. By being open about it, I hope to reach those people. The twenty people whining because I make them uncomfortable or am “too negative” are not my concern. My concern is the one person sitting by themselves in the corner of the room.
This society is an overly politically correct mechanism of conformity. Don’t say these certain words or you might hurt someone’s feelings. Don’t think this. Don’t voice that opinion. Oddly enough, though I’m a fat white man, I still do come from a minority. A minority that very few people give a damn about.
For thousands of years, we the mentally ill have been trampled underfoot, exploited, abused, executed, imprisoned in asylums by our own families, strapped to beds, experimented on, and utterly screwed over by nation after nation. When was the last time you heard anyone crusading about protecting the feelings of we the nuts by pushing to change use of words like “crazy” or “that’s insane!”? As a side note, I do think the label Psychotic-American would do wonders for our image.
Despite the past two paragraph rant, I want to be very clear. I do not feel that pushing that style of agenda will do a damned thing for the mentally ill community. It is insulting and degrading to the people that suffered to preserve our First Amendment rights. Someone is ALWAYS underfoot. I challenge you to find one point in history where everyone got along and respected each other. There is none, and there never will be.
That thought process is integral to my approach to living with and coping with the Disorder. I will never be integral to this society and the normals milling about through their day. No matter what I do, I’ll still always be “the Bipolar guy” to people that think it makes me less of a person. So why should I play by those rules or care about seeking that acceptance?
I came to the realization that the only way I would ever be happy was to find what was right for me. I don’t like being Bipolar; the medication, doctors appointments, blood tests, and therapy. I do like the knowledge I’ve gathered because of it. It is truly invaluable. Ultimately, it led me to discover what did make me happy- helping people with real problems find some peace of their own. That’s damned difficult to do when no one wants to show too much.