Sunday, May 13, 2018

Guest Post #9 - Mental Health Awareness Month - John - Bipolar Style


• How old were you when you began to experience symptoms of mental
illness?

• Did you have support and seek treatment immediately? If not, why?

• What would you tell your younger self knowing what you know now
about mental illness?

• What do you think are the biggest misconceptions those with mental
illness have to face?

• How do you feel about the stigma surrounding mental illness? Do you
feel we’ve taken positive steps? In your opinion, what needs to be
done in the future?

• What do you do to get through the bad days?

• Do you have any projects that you’re working on that could
benefit the mental health community?

• Please give us some of your social media screen names in case
someone wants to get a hold of you. 

_ _ _ _ 

In hindsight, I experienced feelings I now know to be Bipolar disorder
as early as 6-7 years old. I was starting grade school.

My dad was mostly away at work, and my mom just focused on my school
performance. So, when my emotions got the better of me, all the adults
chalked it up to me just being a “sensitive kid.” All of those
adults kicked me to the curb. By age 14 I was homeless. I went
undiagnosed through another 20 years of mayhem. My mom has a personality
disorder of the narcissistic nature. She was not hearing what any of the
doctors were saying. She still doesn’t fully acknowledge my condition.


The biggest misconception I experience is that many people equate mental
disease with intelligence. They think we’ve gone stupid all of a
sudden. Or maybe deaf. We have not. We hear and process everything
people say. We take mental notes and make lists of the shit-talkers.
Another misconception is that people who have never been to a
psychiatrist must be normal. There are millions of people sicker than I
am who have never seen a doctor. You could be one of them. How would you
know if you don’t see a doctor? 

Stigma is different for each person. Some people have support circles,
resources or government benefits that allow them to survive without fear
of living in a gutter. I don’t. I have lost jobs once people learned
of my Bipolar. It’s easy to say “Fuck Stigma” if you have support.
When you don’t, living with a mental illness could be similar to being
a homosexual in the 1950’s.

A quick search on Twitter shows how much stigma has actually grown for
some in the age of ignorant social media posts. Other groups, like
people with gender dysmorphia syndrome, are more accepted in today’s
society than people with manic syndrome. That’s great for shows like
Drag Race, and it also illustrates how slow society is to accept other
mental conditions. Where is Drag Race for Bipolar people? The stigma is
real. Deny it at your own peril. Unless you have a trust fund or
government benefits.

People with safety nets need to check their entitlement when it comes to
their position on stigma. If it doesn’t affect you that much, good for
you. It almost killed me. Twice. You can’t tell me to ignore it. You
can’t gaslight me into thinking it’s O.K. to be “out” in my
personal situation, in these particular times. If you want to pay all my
bills for life, you can lecture me on stigma.

Ugh. Bad days. If at all possible, I get dressed and go outdoors. The
direct sunlight and kinetic activity of the street people on the block
enliven my senses. On bad days, I try to avoid electronics. I would much
rather talk to one dirty stranger at a bus stop than a dozen sterile
pixels on my Twitter feed. Nature … animals. All those things that
don’t judge me - I try to surround myself in that. I also create;
graphic design, music, podcasts, etc. Sometimes when I think I need some
kind of input to make me feel better, it’s really an output that I
need. 

I always have projects - typical manic. I produce a monthly podcast
called Bipolar Style that’s geared toward the new people diagnosed
with Bipolar every day. The podcasts’ success led to our popular Slack
chat at BipolarParty.com where several of us met and formed a new
project called Psych.Media. That’s intended to be a central
promotional hub for producers with mental illnesses and their blogs,
podcasts, galleries, gaming, and videos. My newest podcast, Manic
Episodes, debuts in May 2018. 

I can be reached through my Twitter accounts @BipolarStyle and
@ManicEpisode or via chat at BipolarParty.com Of course, you could just
go to BipolarStyle.com 

Control Enthusiast

There are times in my life when I lose track of who I am and what I want to do with my life. It happens more than I would like to admit. I...