Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Change a Mind about Mental Illness: Bipolar

Did you know: 
1 out of 6 people have a mental illness.  
That could be your brother, mother, a friend, someone you pass on the street.

Something has been tugging on my heartstrings that I would like to shed some light on.  As I was having a conversation with some friends, someone made the comment, "I think my ex-husband is bipolar, and I'm sure some of my kids are too. They are crazy!"  This may not sound like an end of the world comment, but it took me aback.  Growing up with family members and friends who suffer from the ups and downs of dealing with bipolar makes me extra sensitive towards this topic.  Bipolar is considered a mental illness where an individual can be happy one moment and the next be completely down. Sometimes there are days or weeks where they may have a manic high (very positive, full of energy, might even tend to be more of a risk taker during this time) or a manic low (major depression).  There is not a week that goes by where I don't hear such comments from friends and strangers using the term "bipolar". Most of the time it is in a negative way... "Oh man, they must be bipolar!  You are sooo bipolar!", etc. Sometimes it's in a joking matter.  Non the less, we need to be careful what comes out of our mouth.  You never know if someone is around and it offends them.  It is rather hurtful and ignorant.  Our society has started to realize that saying such things as "What a retard! You are so retarded!" can be taken as politically incorrect and insensitive.  The same needs to go with using the word "bipolar". Everyone needs to understand that such phrases should be deemed as inappropriate and insensitive as well. 

During my 27 years of life so far, there was a huge phase growing up when "everyone is ADD or ADHD". There was a negative association attached to being ADD or ADHD.  Nowadays, I feel that the diagnosis of being bipolar has taken over society.  That's the new term doctors like to throw out there every chance they get. It's a very real mental illness.... a mental issue that affects many peoples lives and many have to manage it by taking medication.  It is a tough thing to live with day in and day out.  I had family members end up in the hospital because they were on the verge of committing suicide when they were having a major low.  It is not an easy thing to deal with. It just does not help that our society makes them out to look like fools and crazy people. They are not.  If anything, they have to work extra hard to maintain stability in their lives.  I am so proud of how far my friends and family have come while battling this mental illness. 

My biggest pet peeve pertaining to this subject is how the media portrays it.  Many of the cases people hear about on the news or through movies and tv are the absolute far end of the spectrum cases.  I remember a few years back when Britney Spears shaved her head and bashed in car windows.  A lot of people instantly went to the idea that she's got to be bipolar.  Maybe she is, maybe she's not.  All I can say is that that was an EXTREME episode.  My friends and family that struggle with being bipolar have never done anything like that.  I have seen them happy one moment and then completely depressed the next, sometimes when they are manic high they might go on a shopping spree or be highly energetic, etc.  It is nothing to the extreme that the media portrays.  Our society has a rigid view on what bipolar is all about, and has given it a negative connotation.  Based on what I have learned about it over the years, I vaguely remember hearing that there are multiple levels of bipolar.  So don't just assume that because someone is deemed bipolar that they are psycho and crazy. 

It was touching to hear actress, Glenn Close, share her personal experience pertaining to bipolar.  Her sister is bipolar and they teamed up to change minds about mental illness.  Glenn Close and her sister recently spoke in a commercial about this topic. It is very touching:


1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this. I was diagnosed with bipolar II 2 years ago, and was scared of what that diagnosis was. My doctor told me there were different layers to bipolar and that mine was a case of major depressive disorder with one manic episode in my life. I also have PTSD which triggered my BP II because of the traumatic deaths of my parents. I've been on the right medication now for 2 years, but it took 4 years to get the proper diagnosis and medication. Now I'm level headed and at ease, I have a wonderful career and I'm happy. Everything in my life is completely normal and calm; you wouldn't believe I even have the disorder. Medication and therapy works! Never be afraid of a diagnosis or getting treated for it. It's totally worth educating yourself and getting treatment.