Once I was handed a diagnosis of Bipolar, I decided to run with it here. I’m the only one of my many friends with it who is trying to talk about it openly, and really, I cannot blame my other friends for shooshing up. Many of them are in the States; they are unable to pay for care, and know that they risk losing their jobs for being ‘unstable’. It’s a lose-lose situation, and it’s easier to plaster on a fake smile and try to pretend that there’s nothing wrong.
There’s also the problem that there is a lot of misconceptions about mental health. OCD folks aren’t all about the scrubbing, Bipolar folks aren’t axe-murderers, and neither are schizophrenics. Having said that, the Bipolar is out to kill its host one way or the other; something a friend sent me likened it to being in a relationship with the love of your life who just happens to brutalize you enough for you to end up in hospital once in awhile. The best times are more sublime than anything one could envision, while the worst are the stuff of nightmares. That’s why mental conditions are referred to as invisible illnesses – so much of the suffering and scarring is internal. Therefore, people try to scale based on their own experiences of sadness or their own moments of mercurial temperament. They temper it with the misconceptions-as-‘fact’, and risk saying the absolutely worst things by way of encouragement.
And yet, I can link all these things, and share my experiences as candidly as I wish, but the likelihood is that I am preaching to the choir. Even if my entire modus operandi is to be a passionate advocate for mental health awareness, the people who probably need to hear it the most (either to help them love others better, or to get help for themselves) will probably ignore it, or just think I’m being whiny. It’s frustrating, and I know it’s not just frustrating for me. for example, my friend Jezebelle over at If Then Else linked me to this earlier today:
I want to tell you all about my struggles. But I don’t really know how
I agree with him – it’s much easier to talk about these things when they are broadcast out into the aether. After all, the meatspace rules of socializing make sharing our actual feelings to be… not exactly appropriate, I guess is the right word. The convention is to ask how someone is doing; an actual answer is not expected. And because so many of us seem to be ‘getting by’, it’s then presumed that the internal struggle cannot possibly be as bad as portrayed. But that could also be a fallacy that the mentally well hang onto to justify their opinions. I don’t really know; I’ve tried hard to be compassionate for the genuinely suffering my entire life. The Golden Rule has always been a maxim I have subscribed to, so…
So there, a bit of food for thought for the day. 🙂