AJ Lee means nothing to me. I’m not a fan of melodramatic violence as entertainment, so I’ve never encountered her image or name before. But she does have a book coming out (Crazy is my Superpower, coincidentally). It is the story of her life from her perspective: she is bipolar. Not has, is.
These are words from her blog post announcing the arrival of her sure fire bestseller:
One day I made the choice to stop throwing myself a pity party. I chose to stand up and fight…
What was once my shameful secret was going to become my secret weapon.
When I harnessed its seemingly uncontrollable might, I realized Bipolar disorder’s powers could be used for good. My diagnosis didn’t have to be an affliction. It could simply be the gift of extraordinary emotions. When a loved one hurt, I could feel their pain with every inch of my skin through my super human ability of empathy. When I witnessed injustice, my anger was transformed into righteous indignation, and nothing could stop me from raising my voice. My passion-fueled soul convinced me to jump into life headfirst, without overthinking. When I was scared, my super-sized heart reminded me I could be invincible. When I doubted myself, my overachieving mind made me believe I was capable of flying. And when I desired something, there was not a person on earth who could hold me back. I could walk through fire if it meant making my dreams come true.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
‘My diagnosis… could simply be a gift of extraordinary emotions.’
Why yes, I woke up this morning deciding who would look after my dogs once I killed myself. That’s one fuck of a gift. Extraordinary, all right. Extraordinarily difficult to control, to understand, to convey accurately to those around you, and to reconcile with being a disorder, not a goddamn lifestyle.
‘…my super human ability of empathy.’
Ah, super human empathy. It really is a great burden to carry, being able to feel others’ pain through every inch of my skin. To have clairvoyant insight into the suffering of those around me and use my astounding Bipolar powers to soothe and heal.
‘My passion-fueled soul convinced me to jump into life headfirst, without overthinking.’
That, my dear, is what we call mania. And the life you’re jumping into headfirst, without overthinking, could destroy your marriage, throw you into bankruptcy, or into the depths of a crippling depression.
‘… my super-sized heart… my overachieving mind… I could walk through fire.’
‘My diagnosis didn’t have to be an affliction. It could simply be the gift of extraordinary emotions.’
This is flat out fucking dangerous. A diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder IS an affliction; it is an illness. Oh, and it is a gift all right. A gift of daily struggles that sometimes require superhuman strength just to keep breathing.
I know empathy, because I’ve known unspeakable pain. I have a super-sized heart, because every time I want to die, more scar tissue builds around it. I have an overachieving mind because it takes so much brain power to outsmart, outwit and outlast this extraordinary ‘gift’.
And I have walked through fire. I have danced with lightning. Not in the quest of fame and fortune. In a quest to make it to Friday.
‘And when I desired something, there was not a person on earth who could hold me back.’
That’s probably the only point on which we agree. And it has nothing to do with Bipolar Disorder.
That’s sheer force of will.
According to Lee, “That is the gift being bipolar gave me. It blessed me with a lofty imagination, an iron will, and an unbreakable belief in the impossible. I used my gift to take myself from being homeless to being an athlete and entertainer on international television. I became a woman with a mission.”
Honey, having Bipolar Disorder is not a gift. And you are not Bipolar any more than you are heart disease. Bipolar Disorder is an illness that one has, not something one is. And it is completely irresponsible to say flat out that you used the gift of Bipolar take yourself from being homeless to a tv star.
Luck. Skill. Discipline. Exploiting opportunities. Good looks. Stubbornness. All things that can propel someone to stardom.
If you were gifted an iron will or lofty imagination due to a Bipolar diagnosis, it sure sounds like I got the big ol’ Bipolar shaft. I have a mental illness. You have a handy plot device.