Inspired by Marci: http://mm172001.wordpress.com/, I am going to write a series of posts based around the 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge. The prompts can all be found by clicking on the link. Like I did with the Self-Harm Challenge, I will only post answers I think might be interesting or relevant in some way, but I will be using the prompts every day to give me an idea of what to write. Thanks for reading.
Day 1: What is/are your mental illness(es)? Explain it a little.
‘Cause you’re hot then you’re cold
You’re yes then you’re no
You’re in then you’re out
You’re up then you’re down
I have Bipolar II. Bipolar is different for each person, so my own experiences can’t be taken as true for everyone. For me, it means periods of relatively normal mood interspersed with frequent, intense “lows” and less frequent, less intense “highs”. The highs mostly last a few days or a couple of weeks; the lows can last a lot longer and even when I’m not in a depressive episode, I can experience symptoms ofdepression.http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/bipolardisorder.aspx Here is a reliable source of information on the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Take a look.
I take medication to control my mood: a mood stabiliser, an anti-depressant and an anti-psychotic, and these are mostly quite helpful, though I can still experience some symptoms of lows and highs while on them:
Bipolar is an illness. And it saddens me when people casually bandy the word about to describe the perfectly normal, sometimes painful, ups and downs of every day life.
“OMG I was so happy yesterday and now I just feel like s***. I’m so bipolar!”
“I fancied her last week but this week I just can’t be bothered. I’m so bipolar!”
“Oh my god he’s so up and down, I swear he’s bipolar or something.”
NO. Contrary to the stereotypes implied in the way that people use the word bipolar, I am not unreliable. I am not fickle, and outside of my mood swings I am not especially unstable as a person. I don’t change my mind about people in a split second. I don’t fall in and out of love. I don’t “change my mind like a girl changes clothes” (Katy Perry again).
Bipolar, as you will see if you read the leaflet linked above, is a diagnosable mental illness with a set of symptoms for both (hypo)mania and depression. It isn’t just the fact that it’s being joked about that bothers me. It’s the fact that people actually use these stereotypes as diagnostic criteria and end up self-diagnosing as bipolar in the same way that people abuse the term OCD. If you genuinely think you might have bipolar, or any other mental illness, read up on it, see a doctor, and take their advice. It’s the same as self-diagnosing with anything else: why do it?