I hate stigma. It makes me feel as if I’m nothing or dangerous. I’ll explain. My husband and I record a lot of TV shows. For one of the TV shows, we hadn’t yet watched any of the episodes, so some days we watch multiple episodes back to back. It’s this show that started last year, Secrets and Lies (heads up, spoiler alerts). I was all good with it, until close to the end of the first season. They find psychiatric medications in the woman’s house, Risperdone and Lithium. Then the guy that found the meds looks them up and of course it shows only the negative information about bipolar disorder. It shows information about psychosis and how individuals can go into violent rages when their meds are not level or when they’re off medication.
Maybe there are some people who do go into violent rages when struggling with medication, but that’s not how it goes for everyone. Every person is different and I don’t like it when TV or movies show individuals with bipolar with the most extreme effects. There are probably a lot of people out there that don’t realize that they are only showing the most extreme circumstances. There are people out there that know nothing about bipolar disorder until they see it shown on TV and in movies. It’s stuff like this that gives bipolar disorder and other mental health disorders a bad name.
I looked up the word stigma to see what it says and I found that it says, ‘a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.’ When bipolar disorder is shown on TV or in movies, it is usually shown in a disgraceful manner. I wonder if this will ever change.
I’ve been hearing it more and more often lately, people using the word bipolar improperly. In fact, it’s not just improper; it’s disrespectful and ignorant. One of the worst examples I personally heard was when someone said to me in a conversation, ‘I was so angry yesterday, I went bipolar on him.’ All I could do was think, how could someone even say that, especially when they know that I am bipolar. I didn’t even respond. I was so offended that I couldn’t react. There was another person, not diagnosed with bipolar disorder, that I was talking to, and I asked her how she was feeling. Her response also shocked me, she said, ‘I feel bipolar. I’ve been somewhat moody lately.’ These are just two of the many examples that I’ve heard. I can’t believe that people could say these things. I was so completely offended, insulted, and angry.
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health illness. Bipolar disorder affects many millions of people worldwide. It has caused a lot of these people to go on disability due to their symptoms; I am one of those individuals. Sadly, many people diagnosed with bipolar disorder or other mental health disorders end up taking their own lives. Bipolar disorder, along with every other mental health disorder, is not something to joke about. I would have thought that it’s common sense not to use the word bipolar to describe anything, but apparently most people don’t have common sense. I strongly feel that people need to be properly educated on the seriousness of mental health disorders. People also need to learn to respect others.
We need to work on the mental health stigma using education and experience. I admit that I need to work on it too. I believe that a lot of people are not purposefully disrespectful, they are simply uninformed of the truth. When someone says something that is disgraceful to me, instead of telling that person how I feel, I hold it all in. I’m not good at expressing how I feel without having time to think it through. I’m also afraid to upset anyone, but what about my feelings? Expressing myself is something I’m working on, and maybe one day I’ll get better at it. Hopefully, everyone will get better about it. I’m not sure if we will ever live in a world without stigma, but it can’t hurt to try.