I have Bipolar Disorder.
That's one of those things I say to make other people feel comfortable. I have, like I have diabetes; I have
MS; I have a socially acceptable
health condition. But I don’t. I have
Bipolar Disorder. Can I return it? It doesn’t go with these shoes. No? I guess not.
The term Bipolar Disorder was a sleight-of-hand
performed upon the American culture’s lexicon in order to retire the term manic-depressive and create a
distant-clinical approach to the disorder. Yet, I haven’t noticed this change
in terminology generating a look of relief when I say, I have Bipolar Disorder or I
am Bipolar. Saying I have sounds
and feels disingenuous as well as contagious. First off, I've said and done
enough while in a manic, depressed, or mixed state that I don’t care to add
disingenuous to my list of sins. Secondly, the idea of bipolar disorder as
catching scares the hell out of people. So, the magic trick upon the lexicon
failed. I’ve yet to hear a pop-culture reference or eavesdrop on a stranger’s
conversation that gave a positive, embracing reception to Bipolar Disorder.
him. He’s crazy. He must be bipolar,"
she hissed over her insulated cup of Starbucks.
settled, the two women move on to their next topic of conversation, the sale at
Had I only
known that diagnosis were being handed out at Starbucks, I could have saved
myself a lot of trouble and co-pays.
is I have or I am, Bipolar is just too confusing. What poles? Which pole is
which? And how can I be in two places at the same time? Will I have to wait long
to see Santa? Does this mean the equator is normal? I didn’t think normal would
be so hot. But Manic-depressive, this term is direct. It gives guidelines.
People I have some idea of what to expect.
her. She suffers from extreme emotional states. I can relate to extreme
emotional states ever since my daughters entered puberty," she sighed over
her insulated cup of Starbucks.
people want to understand, but not because they're kind. They want to know to
stay the hell away from you. Then I wonder, should I bother to tell people at
all? I have enough going on in my head without added paranoia and fear.
However, at times I find myself in a situation where I could offer up a
pathetic excuse or reveal my diagnosis. I tend to opt for the unveiling of the
ugly truth of my genetics. I always wanted to have a cause to fight for as a
teenager. So, I guess I’m fulfilling that adolescent fantasy when I stand as a
one woman activist campaigning for awareness of mental-illness. But even as I
launch into my elevator speech on what it means to have this disorder or I
break into a pre-amble about the condition as an apology for my behavior during
a mixed episode, I see that look crawl
across their face. The look that says, "Is she crazy right now?" And it is accompanied with the nearly
imperceptible lean away from the crazy.
I doubt they hear the scientific or personal information that I regale
them with as I follow them too close and jostle their elbow over a plate of
appetizers, while refusing to let the subject drop. I wait for that look of
acceptance, till they excuse themselves for the bathroom. Sometimes, I wait
patiently outside the bathroom.
If I had a
pamphlet, I could just hand it out to people and avoid the uncomfortable
lectures I feel compelled to give. A nice full-color, tri-fold pamphlet that I
could get done at FedEx/Kinko's.
Something that would list signs of impending mood swings. So many people
think it is far left or far right thing, as if it were political at all. It’s more
of an overactive appetite of sexuality, sense of superiority, self-righteous spirituality,
and despair. I guess it is a bit like politics. In any case, I’ve reduced this
complex chemical disorder in the brain into phases or episodes of 4 easy-to-understand
categories about your average Bipolar Disorder Inflicted Citizen (BDIC)
BDIC for Dummies
Manic – steer clear. Do not communicate
with this person unless you are skilled at patronizing. Resist illicit offers.
Remember, you are of sound mind. Anything that occurs during this time will be
solely your fault.
Depressed – spend all of your personal time
and money trying to cheer this person up. Never display frustration. Create a
positive environment without being overly cheerful.
Mixed – Good Luck.
simple pamphlet, I could enlighten our society about how to work and live with the