Bipolar disorder is genetic. You cannot miraculously obtain this mood disorder if it is not already in our genetic code. You are predisposed genetically, but something still has to trigger it. The trigger is from our environment and the societal pressures we all face. Not everyone that has it in their genetic code will get it either.
Unfortunately, we hate, detest, ignore, or destroy what we do not understand or believe to be “abnormal.” The word “disorder” creates its own negative meaning. We, who are bipolar, are “not” in the “normal” order of mental health. We, no matter how hard we try, still see ourselves in a negative light because we know we are NOT normal. We know we feel way too deeply and too much than “normal” people. We know we think way too much and sometimes it is too slowly or way too fast compared to the “norm.”
However, there are those of us who also think beyond the “normal” range and begin to experience grandiose thoughts and/or see things that are not really there. We, who see hallucinations and/or are delusional, have reached the psychotic, out of touch with reality, realm of severe mania. However, we can with proper treatment and medication return from the other realm. We are NOT hopeless.
Another problem we sometimes face is the ability to become extremely angry and sometimes violent. Most who do, if not all of us, do so because we feel that our person or a loved one is threatened, but how is this different from other people who are not bipolar and get angry or violent? When we are in a manic state or have a mixed episode, we feel more deeply and may come to faster or unrealistic conclusions.
Statistically, are we more violent? According to the New England Journal of Medicine in their article “Violence and Mental Illness—How Strong Is the Link?” by Dr. Richard A. Friedman, published November 16, 2006; “serious mental illness is quite rare, it actually contributes very little to the overall rate of violence in the general population; the attributed risk has been estimated to be 3 to 5%—much lower than that associated with substance abuse, for example.” See?
We, that do become violent, usually are not getting the proper medical treatment we need or are noncompliant, not wanting to follow doctor’s orders, with our treatment plan.
Even with all the research suggesting differently and having all this knowledge in their reachable grasps, people still prefer to ridicule, shun, murmur, show distaste, and/or pass over us who are knowingly bipolar. You know those types: those that tell you that it’s all in your head and that “you can get rid of it if you tried without any medication at all,” those that only see you as “crazy” and stay away from you, and those that throw away your resume or find a way to lay you off because you are too much a liability even if you are the perfect candidate for the job.
Do these people even try to look to see what you are capable of? Do they even know that we, those with bipolar or mood disorders, are the best thing that has happened to this country and the world? For as long as we can remember, we have marveled at the political charisma and advocacy of Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, the artistic visualization of Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch, the written wonders of William Faulkner and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the musical delights of Ludwig van Beethoven, all of whom have bipolar disorder. Wow!
Don’t forget the women too: Mary Wollstonecraft (Mary W. Shelley’s mother and political activist in her time), Georgia O’Keeffe (artist), Virginia Woolf and Mary Shelley (writer), Sylvia Plath (poet), Vivien Leigh (actress in Gone with the Wind). Even today, well known creative geniuses have openly declared they too have that special flair: Sting (musician), “Buzz” Aldrin (astronaut), Tim Burton and Francis Ford Coppola (directors), Carrie Fisher and Patty Duke (actresses), Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller (actors), DMX (rapper & actor). However, what about the young Midwestern girl who was just diagnosed as bipolar? Is she another creative genius that will be overlooked or traumatized because she doesn’t have the means to be close to the artistic community? Should she be ignored?
If only we who are bipolar were given the encouragement and support we need to take our creative aspirations to the next level; we might be able to take the “box” we all live in and work with daily, study it, and then truly find the outside of the box that will solve many of our problems today. Teachers and bosses always say “think outside the box.” Well, why won’t you let us try and give us the power to flurish?
Speaking of boxes…shouldn’t teachers and bosses define the box first before expecting us to step outside the box?
So, my homework assignment for you is to describe “the box” and write your description in the comment box. Also, if you would rather critique this blog, go ahead.