One recent afternoon, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when a headline caught my eye. The summary indicated that the TV show Homeland should stop romanticizing the main character’s bipolar disorder, or treating it like some kind of superpower.
(There will more on Homeland, bipolar disorder and finding ignorance everywhere in my upcoming first podcast!)
I’d like to respectfully disagree with that opinion. I don’t watch the show, but I’ve read about its depiction of bipolar disorder. The fact is, I don’t know what defines the bipolar experience.
I know what defines MY bipolar experience.
And yes, #bipolarismysuperpower. It’s how I’m going to change the world.
My brain has some screwed up wiring. It makes me different. It makes me unique. It makes me miserable and melancholy and exuberant and excited. And yes, sometimes, it makes me want to die.
But it also gives me empathy. It lets me reach out to people when they are in pain. To walk their path beside them without judgment or assumptions. To give them a soft place to land when the only option in their mind is to jump.
I’m not afraid to talk about things most people could never say to their families – the allure of suicide, dealing with hypersexuality, being stuck in a manic loop, or feeling so depressed that you’ll take every stimulant you can get your hands on to trigger mania instead.
These concepts are embarrassing. Humiliating. Shame-inducing. Thoughts and actions taking place while in the throes of an episode are sometimes so far removed from who you actually are, hiding them is the only way to maintain any kind of life.
And I understand that. Intimately. I’ve watched the look on the face of someone I love change from concern to fear to horror as they watched me come undone.
But I am no longer afraid to speak up. And if you can’t find your voice, I will gladly turn up the volume. I know that what I’m doing (going public with this train wreck) is simply not an option for most people. But you are not alone. WE are not alone.
If I write one thing that can be used to start an awkward conversation, that helps someone make sense of the (literal) madness, or provides a tiny light in someone’s darkness, it’s worth it.
I am many things. Like many mutants before me, I am learning how to harness what makes me unusual and to use what makes me different to change lives.
So yeah, bipolar is my superpower. Anyone know where I can get a kickass cape?