I talk about bipolar disorder because it is a way for me to take control of it. I talk about it a lot. I refuse to let it make me feel like less of a person. By freely admitting that I used to hear voices, by describing the emotional highs and lows, and by doing so in a calm, rational voice, it turns the mental illness into just another fact of life, a part of who I am but not all of who I am.
I also make jokes about it, not to trivialize the condition but to show that I’m not going to allow it to take away my humor.
Not that I don’t feel the devastation that mental illness can bring, but I would rather channel that emotion into my work (usually my poetry). In personal conversation, I’ll crack a joke about how I learned that my great grandfather died in an institution from “exhaustion in the progression of psychosis,” but unless I’m with someone who knows me well enough to look past the stigma, with a family member, or with someone who reads my poetry, I try to treat it as something that sometimes happens.
Does it terrify me that I might end up that way even with today’s advances in medicine? Sure. But I don’t want someone who might be hiding the same fear to think they’re alone.
You are not alone. Don’t be ashamed of who you are or what you have inside of you. You are human, and that’s all that matters.
Aaaaand I’m done with the crazy run-ons 😉