I wrote this a few years ago as my first blog post for International Bipolar Foundation. They have updated their servers, so only a few of my more recent ones remained, but, I did want to give credit to the original posting of this.
Gosh I hope not. In the last few years, the headlines in newspapers and magazines have been flooded with reports of celebrities having bipolar disorder, criminals having bipolar disorder, even headlines of missing persons who have bipolar disorder. There was Britney Spears and her head shaving debacle; Charlie Sheen and his “winning” brigade, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Demi Lovato speaking candidly, and then came Casey Anthony. Is the media beginning to make having bipolar disorder glamorous or is it desensitizing us to what the disorder really is by declaring erratic behavior by individuals to indicate bipolar disorder? Should we make way for the fall trend and expect to see more use of the term “bipolar disorder” on the red carpet? Let’s take a peek at what bipolar disorder can really look like.
If you have ever wondered where Hell is, Hell is right here. Right here in my office, in my house, it’s where ever I go. I can’t escape it. Hell is not a pit of fire with the Devil waiting at the door. Hell is feeling like you are sinking into quicksand and unable to breathe. Every life line you were holding onto is slowly breaking and you are sinking farther and farther, and suddenly, you just explode. You can’t control it. Yet even though just moments ago you were sinking, you kept your “game face” on and pretended it was ok so nobody knew. Then you explode and the highs are no longer just slightly higher than normal, they are so high you feel invincible. You say things you don’t mean to say, do things you don’t mean to do. You desperately want to crawl out of your skin, or peel it off, because you are so uncomfortable inside it physically hurts you, and there is nothing anyone can do to make it go away. Minutes later, you fall to the ground and fall so low you can’t stop sobbing like a little girl while at the same time wishing that someone, anyone, was there to hold you and tell you it’s going to be ok. But, you are alone, as you always feel. Your mind goes out of control and starts thinking the worst thoughts imaginable. Instead of having so much energy you can’t control yourself, you are now huddled in the corner of your kitchen crying; the thought of standing up, or moving, impossible. It hurts too much to even breathe. The same thoughts that landed you in the hospital 5 years ago are racing through your mind freaking you out even more. You are scared. You are alone. You don’t know what to do. You’re sinking farther in that hole while the people who don’t know much about this type of thing get mad at you and turn their backs. You feel even worse now because you let them into your life but then turned around and hurt them. You didn’t mean to, or want to, but your body and mind were out of control, so now you keep thinking tragic thought after tragic thought. Suddenly you hear a song, or maybe a tv show, and instantly, you can move again and are laughing. Another minute passes and you want to punch yourself because you can’t handle the up/down/up/down anymore. Why is it going so fast??? Why won’t it stop?? WHY CAN’T I BE NORMAL???? Then, there I am, 29 years old with my parents sitting at my house for the night baby-sitting. Yup. The doctor prescribed baby-sitters. I can’t be left alone.
Does this sound glamorous? What about the latest trend? It’s so easy to jump on the bandwagon. Everyone wants and desires to fit in. It’s also easy to slap a label on when looking for an excuse, or rationalization for something when no other valid reason seems to exist. Sure, today it might seem like having bipolar disorder is the way to get yourself in the spotlight, but tomorrow, when the cameras and spotlights have refocused, those with bipolar disorder will still be riding their roller coaster looking for ways to live each day keeping the mood swings at bay and battling the stigmas. Those with the trendy label, will be left with a label and stigma that can be easily undone with a press release. Sometimes I wish life was as easy as a press release.