The other day I discovered a link to the Time article “Me and My Bipolar Disorder” by Andrea Sachs. I was excited to see that it was a Q & A with Marya Hornbacher, author of Madness: A Bipolar Life. A little while ago, I bought her book to add to the pile of books I have acquired about Bipolar Disorder. I hadn’t yet read her memoir, but it is in the pile of memoirs I plan on reading near the end of my research for a future book.
This Q & A was going to give me a faster look into Hornbacher’s life, which also made me more envious of her. Why? She managed to be a published writer, and she was actually able to help people with bipolar disorder fight the Stigma nationally through Time Magazine. Well, so I thought.
I read the article and found speed bump after speed bump. Ouch! That hurt! My green monster surfaced when I reached the end.
Okay. Breathe. Just BREATHE! You’re taking this far too personally and you are probably overreacting. You’re just jealous and taking this all out of context.
I put the article away, but I was still furious and throwing myself into a hypomanic state. I even showed it to my therapist when I saw her, who didn’t think it was as bad after skimming it quickly.
Why did the Q & A bother me so much?
I was expecting an activist against the Stigma and someone to foster more understanding.
My therapist again explained to me that I am not the norm when it comes to bipolar disorder. She stresses that I hit the nail on the head when I told her that twins have an unnatural level of intuition that other people do not have. We learned to communicate and read each other without using normal means. Because I can do this with both my sisters, I am also able to use the same intuitive skills on my own self.
Okay. So I’m even more different than different. Go me!
So, let’s go back to the article. What upset me so much? It has been a couple of days now, so I should be able to do this rationally now. Right?
Problem #1: She lumps all bipolars in one messy, ugly package.
Problem #2: She connects eating disorders and substance abuse with her bipolar disorder and blames them on her bipolar disorder. (I know people do this, but is it really healthy?)
Problem #3: She also describes rapid cycling bipolar as the norm for those that are bipolar.
Problem #4: I wonder if she was right when she says that “Many suicides are accidental. There’s a death wish, but it’s fairly vague. It’s different than actually trying to die.” Because people are going to take that as truth, I am really bothered by the possibility that it will generate the public to belittle the hardships of severe depression.
Problem #5: She wants to be cured because she believes some people in society view us as “helpless, hopeless, and freakish.” Okay. This doesn’t sound completely wrong here, but the context of the whole article rubs me the wrong way and makes me feel like she agrees that we are this way and we need a “cure.” She seems to be fueling these views people have about bipolar people in general, rather than helping to eliminate the Stigma. Due to some loaded questions, I suspect the writer had a lot to do with the overall connotation of the article and wrote the article to emphasize bipolar people as “helpless, hopeless, and freakish” to appease an objective or an editor.
So, how does this article change people’s opinion about bipolar disorder? It doesn’t. It actually fuels the stigma, in my opinion. Those that are bipolar and their loved ones need to work hard to stop this Stigma. Furthermore, if we allow ourselves to be labeled, we always will be.
I’m still angry, but not as much. Thanks for letting me vent. You should have heard me a few days ago!
These articles and memoirs can help open people’s eyes, but be responsible, respectful, and clear about your experience with the disorder. Do NOT tell the world we are “mostly” or “all” a certain way when you can’t speak about us as a whole.
Read the article and let me know what you think. Am I being too harsh? Am I the one in the wrong here? Am I so very different?