So, I’m reading a book about a school shooting, and during the trial of the shooter, a psychiatrist is testifying after interviewing the boy. The defense attorney asks what the psychiatrist was looking for in terms of mental illness, and he states ‘bipolar and schizophrenia.’ Heh? Bipolar (I’m going to focus on this one since I have it)? Really? It’s perceived as being that dangerous it needs to be ‘looked for’ in a school shooter? I’ve had a LOT of ups and downs with this illness, and it hasn’t been a bed of roses, peeps, but I have never entertained the thought of hurting others.
After reading this I decided to peruse the web (you know, the one Al Gore invented) to see what is said about bipolar out there, because this particular illness really does have a lot of stigma attached to it. So, I googled (that’s a search engine, ma…don’t monkey with it or you’ll get confused) ‘what are some questions people have about bipolar’ and I was gobsmacked (Lord, I love that word) about the way it’s perceived. Let’s dig in, grasshoppers.
One question was: “Can bipolar people love?” (Skip over these next few words, ma) but what the fuck? Really? There’s the idea floating around that you can’t LOVE if you have bipolar? No. Not true. Here’s where I think this came from: when we’re in a manic state, everything looks wonderful and exciting, including potential partners. We might feel that initial intoxication very quickly and be giddy in the romance. Yes, some might become very promiscuous too. However, what the person feels during the manic state may not be love; we are so emotionally bombarded with energy that’s overwhelming us, we might say it’s love when it’s really just sexual infatuation. 🤩
But, you gotta remember that us bipolars are not always manic and not always depressed. There is a state in-between where we are ‘relatively’ stable called euthymia and this, at least in my case, is when I can really ‘fall in love’ (whatever the hell that means) and know that it is love. When I love someone, I love ’em whether I’m manic or depressed, and I love them hard!
Another question was: “Can people with bipolar be faithful?” Short answer? Yep. Long answer…well, here goes: when we’re manic we’re not making the best decisions and are usually very impulsive with no thought of consequences. So, during those times, yes, it’s possible. Sometimes the mania is so strong, there is no ‘you’ left inside to help mitigate what the mania is wanting you to do, but sometimes there is and that reigns you in.
However, a medicated bipolar (me!) who is on a mood stabilizer (I love Lamotrigine…if I could marry it, I would 😳), then the ups and downs are so much more calm; it’s like the roller coaster becomes a bunch of small, rolling hills and your thought processes are much more clear. You have to keep in mind though peeps that 40% of people cheat on their spouses and I can guarantee you they ain’t all bipolar!
How about this question: “Are bipolar people violent and dangerous?” Yes. I keep a roll of duct tape and some tarps in my trunk. 🙄 There are so many mental illnesses that can can cause a person to be dangerous including psychopathy, sadism, narcissism, borderline, etc. However, people with bipolar are either really really happily manic or we’re pretty down in the dumps, and neither one of these states has violence as a feature. Of course, someone with bipolar ‘could’ be dangerous, but so could anyone. Right?
Last one: “Is it safe to live with a bipolar person?” For piss sakes, yes. Hello! I raised my son very very lovingly…I adore each and everyone of my students…I’m the best dog ma around…and my house is comfy cozy with me sitting on the couch at 7:00 every night, in my jammies, watching Netflix. YIKES! Sounds horrible! Now, people who live with someone bipolar need to understand there are going to be issues, but through education, patience, and counseling, these can be handled well.
You know, when you see how stigmatized bipolar is and how it’s perceived by others, you might believe we’re just dangerous people who fool around and will bitch slap you at anytime. Nope. But, we do have some serious issues affect us that should garner some sympathy: bipolar people have a reduction in life expectancy of 9-20 years (more than a heavy smoker) and this is scary as hell to me. Particularly since I don’t have a grandbaby yet (did you read this sentence, son?). We are also at greater risk for dementia as we age, as well as seeing an increase in the severity of our depressive episodes. These things are disheartening to me and should show people that we have more fears about being bipolar than others might have regarding the myths about it.
Look, people with mental illnesses struggle. Right? So many of you reading this are battling everyday and we need support, understanding, love, patience, and encouragement from others to get through. What we don’t need is misinformation circulating about that causes yet more problems in our lives. We need to be seen as people. Individuals. Folks who are sometimes good. Sometimes naughty. Sometimes happy. Sometimes sad. We’re ma’s and pa’s and sisters and brothers and teachers and CEO’s and nurses and doctors and electricians and sales people and on and on and on. In other words, in so many ways, we’re really just like everyone else.