Bipolar is not SEXY

To many, this may seem glaringly obvious. But, alas, this seems to be a somewhat common misconception about The Illness.

Take, for example, just about any young adult novel with a bipolar theme. And there are many. One of the denizens you may meet is the manic pixie dream girl or MPDG. The term was coined by critic Nathan Rabin to describe Kirsten Dunst’s character in the film “Elizabethtown.” The MPDG was a pop culture stereotype long before it got its moniker over a decade ago. Because I read more than I watch, my exposure to this erratic little charmer has mostly been literary. Whether you meet her on the page or screen, please be aware that this crappy character trope is insulting to me as a woman and as a person living with mental illness. For a lot of reasons. Chiefly, my illness is too serious to be written off as quirky. Also, my diagnosis is not a mechanism for some dude to use to discover how to embrace life/be a better person/fall in love or some other b.s. like that. Down with MPDGs!

Then there is the whole bipolar/creativity connection. There is a segment of the populace that feeds this notion that we’re brooding, broken, complex artists needing rescuing. Like I’m some Deeply Troubled emotional fixer-upper. It’s all so romantic!

Except it’s not.

Bipolar disorder destroys. People, families, careers, dreams, relationships, the list goes on. Does that sound harsh? That’s because it is harsh. Not a romantic notion, not a character trope, not a stereotype and certainly not a punchline. It’s a very harsh reality for millions of people every minute of every day. Let’s do us all a favor and recognize this illness for what it is. Let’s commend those fighting the battle inside themselves because it is a battle. Let’s reach out to those who support patients with bipolar because they know exactly how un-glamorous and how tedious it is. I pray and pray that it won’t take any more lives, but the fact of the matter is that bipolar disorder can be as terminal as cancer. So please, PLEASE, for the sake of the struggle, don’t take it lightly. You could save a life!


In praise of Big Pharma

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

I’m not even being facetious here. I heart my meds! While I know this subject can be controversial, just give me a few minutes to explain myself.

Big Pharmaceutical Companies have fairly been described as greedy, heartless, soulless, money-making monoliths, representative of all that is wrong with the American business world. At least that is how I’ve described them. But let me just testify to the positive role pharmaceuticals have played in my bipolar journey.

I’ve been on some type of psychotropic medicine since 2000. Side effects have ranged from tremors and Mohave desert mouth to TREMENDOUS weight gain and narcolepsy and many other effects ranging in severity from inconvenient to completely life-altering.

I know what you’re thinking: “That sounds FANTASTIC! Who wouldn’t want to pop those meds??” Lemme just say the road has not been easy or fun or slimming. I will also say, though, that all these meds have afforded me one more desirable “side effect.”

I’m not dead!

Life, by far, is my favorite side effect. There are so many reasons I’m thrilled to be breathing, but I won’t bore you with those details right now.

I take my meds everyday, three times a day, because I’ve reached a point in life where I enjoy being alive. At least most days. And the meds help SO MUCH!

If you happen to be experiencing the living hell that med adjustment can be, please don’t give up on it. Take your damn meds! God made them for a purpose , just like he made you for a purpose. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by getting all gassy about life being gumdrops and unicorns. Trying to live with mental illness really, really sucks. I mean, A LOT. Like, if you haven’t done it, you really haven’t got a freaking clue about the magnitude of the Suck. But I’ll wax eloquent about that another day.

TAKE YOUR MEDS. If you don’t brush your teeth or wash your hair; if you have bowls of almond milk molding in your kitchen; if you can’t get out of bed today; prop yourself up on a pillow for 30 seconds and TAKE YOUR DAMN MEDS. If you won’t do it for your own sake, do it for your parents or your hamster or your shrink or your friendly local librarian, all of whom will miss you if you die because you went off your damn meds and killed yourself.

Happy doctor prescribed medicating!

I brushed my teeth twice today.

Thanks for joining me! You may be asking yourself, who would want to win at bipolar disorder, right? Well, once you have been gifted a lifetime membership into this fraternal order, you might as well seize those proverbial lemons and make some lithium-laced lemonade! Brace yourself, kids, it’s a bumpy ride!

Here I am with Captain Traddles, one of my two trusty therapy kittehs. He’s been my constant companion these fourteen years. If you decide you are going to have bipolar (that’s how it works, right?) may I suggest getting a pet, especially if you live solo. The Captain and his brother, Griffie, don’t care if I’m having a mood episode or not. There’s no judgment there, just constant demands for attention and food. So motivating! It helps shift my focus from myself to have two little gentlemen at home relying on my opposable thumbs. Incidentally, they also don’t care if I don’t shower for five days, just if I fail to scoop and add fresh litter.

I’ve been cohabiting with my Official Diagnosis of Bipolar I for 17 years, but the magic began years before I could smack a label on it. I haven’t been particularly shy about my struggle and, thankfully, I have always had the support of my family, faithful friends and my bosses. This has definitely helped me to be ‘out’ with it and I realize how very fortunate I am to be so surrounded by love and encouragement. It can be an isolating illness for many and I am grateful for every person who has ever forced their affection on me, even when I was not particularly receptive. It has quite literally saved my life many times over.

I hope to use this blog to have a teensy weensy little platform to share my experiences living with a mental illness and maybe deliver a few laughs and a little punch of hope now and again. Thanks for reading!