A conversation today brought up a topic that made me really uncomfortable. I didn’t know the person well, and they began to go quickly from an opinion about someone’s lack of mental health to a diagnosis. His diatribe went something like this:
“My dad’s neighbor, he’s crazy. I mean really crazy. He’s psychotic, bipolar, schizophrenic.”
Really? Another educated person from a nice family maligning me unawares? My eyes rolled skyward. He didn’t notice. My internal monologue was running. “Do I come out of the mental health closet? Do I say I have bipolar? Do I not? Do I?” I do not.
Spiffy rejoiners came to me six hours after the fact.
What if I said, “So you know a lot about mental health. How can you tell if you’re talking to someone with bipolar?” (leading question…) “Is it the way their face looks? (I’d wait for their answers) “The way they stand? What they say? Do they say the sky is green? Do they talk a mile a minute? Do they have grandiose illusions? Suicidal ideation?”
Or I could simply say, “Bipolar, you mean like me?”
I want to educate people. I’ve passed for regular vanilla long enough. Time for the big reveal that I am pineapple mango surprise.
I’m going to think of funny quips that sum up symptoms, to let people know what they are. I’m going to be as brave as the people who’ve marched for civil rights. Next time I’ll say:
“Bipolar, like me.”
and let the chips fall where they may.
Happy Manic Monday! –Rebecca