Sunday, July 19, 2009

Manic Depression Didn’t Kill Your Dog

For the past couple of days I've dipped into blogs maintained by people with bipolar disorder and, as I've done so, have constantly tinkered with the blogroll. Blogrolls become useless if the lists are indiscriminate (which most of them are). I try to limit mine to ten or twelve. I just added ... salted lithium, which is maintained by "Gabriel," a Canadian journalist who describes himself as being in his fourth year of recovery after eighteen years of dealing with undiagnosed bipolar disorder, which he prefers to call by its traditional name, manic depression. It's one of the better blogs I've read so far. This is one of the better posts:
Manic Depression didn’t kill your dog. Manic depression didn’t rape you. Manic Depression never picked up a gun. People are not their cancer and you are not “A Manic Depressive”, you “Have manic depression”.

You are not your disease. It’s a trap that we all fall into eventually. After I was diagnosed I was “A Manic Depressive” for the better part of eighteen years. Being “A Manic Depressive” gave me excuses that could easily explain why I was who I was. I would tell people “I am A Manic Depressive” and they’d be uncomfortable for a little while and that was it. The reaction was there was no reaction because people have no idea what A Manic Depressive does, or have any idea what Manic Depression does to us.

But it was an excuse I could offer — from one ignorant to another, and it worked because calling yourself “A Manic Depressive” or “A BiPolar” sounds like it should mean something Important. Unlike most diseases manic depression has been romanticized, captured in paint and in song, so people — including us — do not fear manic depression. So the people around us do not fear for us. So the people who care about us, the people who care for us, just shrug their shoulders and give no reaction because those people have no idea what manic depression even means… because I had no idea what manic depression meant for the first eighteen years.

For too long we’ve deluded ourselves into believing manic depression was either something to be perversely proud of or something to be desperately ashamed of… but the mystique is a lie, it’s just a fucking disease. Why do we have such a hard time convincing ourselves and others about the horrible effects this disease has on us when there are a million fucking web sites and blogs about Manic Depression and every Pharmaceutical company sells an anti-depressant or a mood stabilizer, and there’s certainly no shortage of websites dedicated to selling the pills or telling us why those pills are evil… so, with all of this information so available, why is this disease so misunderstood?

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