I’ve been sharing my current life journey with all two million of you, my loyal and awesome followers. That journey has had so many ups and downs recently that Six Flags contacted me and asked me to to be a consultant when they build their next major roller coaster. I told them, “no, sorry, I’m already strapped for time helping someone else build elevators for the world’s next tallest building.”
Hm. I’ll give that joke a solid 7 out of 10.
Listen, friends. I feel I need to say something pretty clearly before I write even one more blog post about… Anything…
Sharing my mental health journey is NOT an invitation to diagnose me.
I have no doubt, after writing and sharing just a few posts about my own experience with bipolar disorder, that there is a very good reason such a stigma exists and why so many people don’t like talking about it.
It was truly amazing to me just how fast other people started telling me what was actually wrong with me and what they felt I needed to start doing differently now that they had the tiny bit of information I shared. People started comparing me to the people in their own lives who have bipolar disorder and to the hurtful things those people once did. Some people went as far as to tell me that I don’t have bipolar disorder at all, and that I have something else much different or much worse, and then they told me what disorder they knew I “actually have.”
As bad as all that was, it wasn’t the worst of it. The worst part so far was that after just a few short posts about it, people have started saying things like, “you did that because you are bipolar” or “you said that because you have bipolar disorder.”
For example, last night I blogged about how I used to be a truly romantic person. One comment that quickly came in was a person telling me those were always the times when my manic episodes were starting-up and bla bla bla bla bla. I keep getting messages the last few days telling me that different behaviors I have, or different stories I’ve told, or different personality traits that are part of me are all this and such or something else with bipolar disorder.
One person even wrote to me and told me to be very careful the next time I start feeling truly happy because it means I’m probably about to go on a big bipolar swing.
No wonder people don’t like to talk about it. No wonder there’s such a stigma.
How do I make this clear?
Sharing my journey is NOT an invitation to the world to start diagnosing everything I do as part of my mental illness.
It’s just not.
There are four main types of bipolar disorder and their symptoms can vary quite drastically. First of all, wrap your head around that factoid if you think you understand my struggle simply because someone else in your life was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Our journeys were different, our minds were different, our experiences were different. Even with some overlap, I guarantee our experiences were hardly the same at all.
Secondly, don’t forget that I’m a fucking human and that even though I have a disorder that can affect me from time to time, I still get to have the human experience in normal ways just like everyone else. I get to be sad or discouraged without being clinically depressed. I get to experience joy or be happy without being shoved into a manic box. I get to have all the other human emotions and experiences, too.
Sorry if it disappoints you, but what I write is for my own understanding. What I go through is my own journey. What I share is for everyone to discuss the topic as a whole, and not to discuss me as an individual. I love when you all comment. I need you all to comment. It’s how I know my work means something. It’s what keeps me going. And the discussions that take place in the comments are so good. Please don’t ever stop commenting. Just be supportive. Or discuss the topic I’m writing about and how it pertains to you. Or join in on other people’s important additions to the discussion.
Just don’t fucking tell me that you know better than I do and better than the medical professionals in my life do. While what you think *may* be valid, it probably isn’t as right as you think it is, and there is never a time when I want to hear it.
That may sound super douchey, but ask yourself something honestly. Would you ever want me to diagnose you from afar, with very little actual knowledge of what your life is? Would you want me to assign your every action and every thought you share to a mental illness in some way? Or would you just want me to say, “hey, you’ve got this and I’ve got your back. Thank you for sharing. It has helped me understand you and all this a little better.”
The world needs to be safer for people with mental illness to be real about it. It will only benefit all of mankind if people who suffer from mental illnesses (which is most of us in one way or another) can discuss their experiences openly instead of spending their lives trying to hide them from others because of… Well… Because of all this.
The mind is a tricky place for even the best of us sometimes. The quicker we all realize that mental struggle is just part of life for everyone sometimes, the more understanding and productive the discussion will naturally become.
So… I’ll never diagnose you. Don’t diagnose me. Can we just agree to that right now?
Dan Pearce | Dan Pearce Was Here