I know mental illness isn’t something you have to shout from the rooftops about. But I talk openly with folks about depression and anxiety because it matters. It’s cathartic in a way. Yet for all my #endthestigma talk, there is a certain level of shame I have associated with my very recent DX.
And no not the kind that everyone calls you because you like, “totes flipped on a bitch” at the club once. Or the one where you wanted Chipotle but ironically went with Qdoba because you’re SO bipolar like that.
This one sends you to soaring to celestial heights. The Moon herself envies how high you are! You falsely believe you can do anything, withstand anything, you possess super human, unshakeable confidence in everything you think to do. Learn 6 languages in a week? Of course! You’re a genius. Fly a plane? SURE! You learn to fear “feeling good” because it’s too good of a good thing. And it ends, because it always does. It crash lands you into the black pits of hell that is your mind. You can’t get out of bed for days. You cry and then cry BECAUSE you’re crying and you
It’s quite carefully outlined in DSM IV. The clinical analysis anyway. A plethora of medical experts have written about this. Google is your friend! But let’s face it, who of the gen pop actually reads that thing? How many people know it exists to even reference it when trying to gain an understanding of mental health of any sort? Most people rely on pop culture and anecdotes to guide their reactions and expectations in dealing with mental illness. It doesn’t shock me anymore because I’ve lived that all my life. Imagine all of a sudden your interactions feature you: a land mine encased in glass that Captain Random Useless and Wholely Incorrect Knowledge About Mental Illness has been handed and tasked with carrying across a sheet of thin ice. In their eyes you’re damaged, dangerous and scary stuff they’d just as soon rid themselves of or avoid altogether. Your relationships in every sector play out like a game of hot potato. Sometimes just parting your lips to speak about what you’re going through produces, packages and doles of heaps of shame. So you’re silent. Just as well; your participation in the narrative isn’t unnecessary because even as an expert on YOU who would listen to a Crazy Girl?
It’s one thing to say you’re depressed or have anxiety (not that those DXs don’t have their share of stigmas attached). But bipolar? If I’m honest with myself, and I try to be, someone ELSE can be bipolar and I’d defend their right to exist without stigmatization to the death. I correct the misusage of the term wherever I hear it in an effort to humanize those who suffer. On some “rage against the dying of the light” type shit.
But for someone ELSE…
I have suffered in this brain for some time now. I know what it is to feel the pits of hell only to rocket up to the stars, I know crash landings. That doesn’t scares me at all. It’s the labeling, and what people have been taught to do with it. It’s the spirit crushing reality that seven letters and a number connected to me may cause even those who love me to leave me to suffer alone. Who’s going to be MY “rage against the dying of the light” person when so precious few “get it” at all?
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