Last night on Channel 4, a documentary called Being Bipolar went out on the air. Now, I’ll own up — I didn’t watch it (I wanted to mention that in case anyone, especially Dyane at ‘Birth of a New Brain’, thought I had!). I had, a bit over a year ago, been in discussion with one production company about potentially being on a documentary of this sort for Channel 4, and of course, asking me to spread the word via The Bipolar Blogger Network about it. I chose not to participate and was too incensed to respond when I received an email with the following:
‘We are particularly interested in those with bipolar 1 and rapid cycling – we feel this is underrepresented in the media.’
Considering that everyone not bipolar seems to think that we’re all Bipolar Classic™®, and going mad at the drop of a dime (I’m looking at you, Catherine Black of Black Box), I was too pissed off to actually respond, or keep track of things. The production ended up with another company that, as far as I can tell, has no relation to the original company.
Not that it matters — it’s Channel 4. Any credibility they had went out the window with Benefits Street, Immigration Street, and who knows what else (but especially those two). So really, colour me not surprised that they put out something that seems lazily cast — Swan Films picked a psychotherapist named Philippa Perry, whose husband they had previously done not one, but two documentaries on. She is apparently a notorious pill-shamer and anti-med, and was reported by many to insist that all bipolar stems from childhood trauma in spite of several scientists saying otherwise, AND the three people in the documentary saying otherwise. I’m sorry, but giving someone with an agenda a ticket to ‘explore’ something is just vile and unrepresentative.
Here are a few articles I spotted this morning written by people with bipolar on the subject of the show. They are a lot nicer than I would be in their shoes (as evidenced by my opinion here, ha ha):
Being Bipolar: A Dangerous View on the Illness
Being Bipolar – living with mental illness has its ups and downs
Now, I’ve made it clear in the past that I am not going to go off my meds unless I have a dead good reason (like pregnancy, which I am done and done with now). Why? Because they make my life amazingly liveable by comparison to unmedicated. I don’t rapid cycle anymore, and my emotions have both a ceiling and a floor that is pretty acceptable (though I might ask to tweak my dose up a tiny bit). And while my childhood was really not ideal, insisting that therapy will fix everything and that bipolar only exists in the face of childhood trauma, or the implication that one cannot be successful AND bipolar… well. I’m glad other people watched it so I won’t have to waste my time.
‘But it gets people talking!’
This seems to be the clarion call of Channel 4 for every vile piece of shit they put out. ‘It gets people talking’ — apparently, that makes it okay to misrepresent people, because then people are talking about the thing. I disagree with that sentiment. I think that yes, people talking about a thing is good, but it has to have a good foundation to work off of. Misrepresentations and one-sided presentation do not give a good foundation, unless you’re looking to build the Leaning Tower of Pisa or something.
But anyways, that’s just my take on it. Have any of you decided to watch it? If you did, what did you think. I would love to find out that I’m being unfair and that there’s actually something worthwhile to be gleaned, but I’m just so… not… believing it at this point.
Hope everyone out there is doing well.