Prologue: Read this article and you will find yourself amidst these three choices: becoming open-minded, in agreement, or taking offense. You pick.
This is definitely one of those times when i feel ashamed to be human. You may know someone who has bipolar disorder, may even be someone who does, and this article is my version of a global apology to all those who have been pushed aside and given not love, but mere passing glances and a roll of the eyes, simply because of a thing called bipolar disorder.
i asked my good friend Ben to help me in writing this article, and he is whom i will basically be writing about. Bipolar disorder, (or manic-depressive illness, whichever floats your boat), manifests itself differently in different bodies and minds, but you will hopefully get the gist of things.
Ben, who, in addition to being a beautiful person, has bipolar disorder. He is one of the kindest people whom i have had the pleasure of meeting, and over time, has become almost like a big brother to me.
Life is unfair and cruel, and Ben is a living example of that. These are his exact words from our little “interview” for this article:
i: tell me how you feel when you’re manic or depressed
B: “things feel hazy…like you’re walking through a fog, sort of…you start getting paranoid, things seem hopeless, you feel as if everything good has been taken away from you…”
i: do you ever get really hyper?
B: “sometimes; i get panic attacks too…you get kinda pale, everything feels like it’s closing in…you almost feel like you’re going to burst…sometimes you cry for no reason…don’t want to be bothered by people, feel like you wanna die…”
i: have you ever tried to commit suicide? or thought about it?
B: “i’ve thought about it before…i overdosed on pills once…and thought about drinking to make myself feel better.”
i: doesn’t it make you angry when other people say they’re depressed, and you know they have no clue what depression is?
B: “i feel sorry for anyone who is ever depressed.”
He is an extraordinary abstract artist…lover of animals and as humane and kind as a human can possibly be without delving into something much more fragile and shining and beautiful…and supernatural.
Which brings me back to the first statement i made…my first intention when i started this article was to bash people who have mocked and ridiculed the unfortunate many with bipolar disorder. But as i wrote more and more about Ben and his gentle personality, the guiltier i felt about the upcoming words i would have penned, and i thought to myself…wouldn’t that defeat the whole purpose of this article? Hasn’t Ben taught me anything?
And i’m happy to say that he has..although i do find it annoying to hear a 12-year old groaning and moaning about bad breakups and freshly slit wrists and dying of love, it’s even worse to hear that from an adult when they should have shed at least their outermost layer of ignorance by then.
i truly love and admire and respect my friend Ben..he experiences intense depression and confusion…even some episodes lasting up to 2 weeks as his mind runs rampant without his permission. Bipolar disorder has drastically changed his life, and will continue to do so, but he somehow finds the time to shine.
Suggested reading: An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel