Friday, September 21, 2007

Mood Watch - 40

Plainly this blog interests me a lot less than it used to. I maintain my professional blog with a fair degree of regularity — in part because whenever I attend conferences, visit archives, etc., I invariably meet readers who appreciate the blog and tell me so. I feel therefore as if I’m performing a useful service.

With this blog, however, I feel very differently. I’m not sure I’m performing a useful service even to myself. True, on the positive side I have this year encountered at least ten individuals with bipolar disorder or similar conditions. It’s not that hard. A few have contacted me after reading the piece I did a year ago for Inside Higher Ed. But most contacts have occurred after I drop into a conversation the fact that I have bipolar disorder. The opportunity occurs more often than one would think. When I do so, invariably I am approached afterward, rather furtively, by some individual who also has bipolar disorder. Without exception they have kept the condition a closely guarded secret. They’re afraid. They worry what their families will think, their friends, employers, lovers. Often the conversations they strike up with me mark the first time they have spoken openly about the disorder. They are full of questions — what medications I take, what strategies I employ to lead a (more or less) “normal” life, etc.

But mostly they wonder how it is that I have the courage or foolhardiness to treat the condition as if it were an illness like any other. Don’t people look at me funny? Aren’t my colleagues skittish about dealing with me? Have they not written me off as anyone who could produce work of consequence? And in truth, I am morally convinced that some people regard me as the ghost of a once promising historian.

Too bad. I’m convinced that in being open about the disorder I have made the right decision. It enables me to draw upon the support of friends. It helps me to grow in a spiritual sense: I feel more at home with myself; and I can look at my increasingly middle-aged face in the mirror and believe that I possess at least a smidgin of courage and intgrity. But much more importantly, it gives me the chance to talk to people who are similarly circumstanced. Most of them have hidden their disorder to such a degree that, regardless of what statistics may say, they simply cannot believe that there are others like them — still less that this and similar disorders are as common as dirt.

Anyway, as to my mood itself: Overall it has been surprisingly good for the past several months. And I notice that the occasional bad spells correlate strongly to circumstances. Fortunately I’ve enjoyed considerable success in distancing myself psychologically from those circumstances. I’ve truly been amazed by what a difference that has made. In my opinion it has been a greater factor than any of the several medications in my arsenal.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.