Not so fun fact… I suffer from BiPolar Mood Disorder (Type 2), and trust me, it is indeed suffering. This type is generally not as severe as cases of BiPolar Type One, but in its own way it has some symptoms just as severe: crushing depression, manically high moods wherein you feel almost uncontrollably ecstatic, an intense over-amplification of both positive and negative aspects of one’s personality, and chronic insomnia due to constantly fluctuating levels of adrenaline, among other symptoms. Thanks to modern medicine, a personalized health regimen, and a lifestyle that tends to “burn off” excess energy through creative work (being a musician, studying language, etc.), I am able to thrive regardless, though it takes a lot of daily work to keep the symptoms under control.
Oddly enough, though personal revelation is not as uncommon as it was in the past, in many ways it is still risky. People find ever newer ways to discriminate against someone who open admits they are ill. I am opening up a vulnerable spot in my psyche and public persona that people could potentially try to hurt; try to take advantage of. It is why people who are different in ways like this hide. You lose control of the narrative. People can now say, “Don’t listen to him. He’s crazy”, or “she’s mentally ill. Make sure she is not hired for this job” and such things. So when people say “we need to talk openly about mental illness”, they almost always are not mentally ill people themselves, as they wouldn’t say such a thing knowing the covert negative kick-back that almost inevitably comes. It is the Christmas Effect. People will give everyone (each other) BUT Jesus a present on December 25th, though it is his birthday. People who don’t have illnesses love to talk about those illnesses on official days or during official months. They run for cancer, wear pink for breast cancer, wear various ribbons for various illnesses, and so on. Honesty, instead of a ribbon for BiPolar or a 5 kilometer fun run, how about listening to the stories of BiPolar people, or hiring one or two for jobs they are qualified for?
But I am not complaining. I have been extremely lucky overall in my past and current situation: supportive family and friends, great physicians and psychiatrists, and fantastic counsellors for the things that require rethinking rather than analysis and medication. I am BiPolar. I am not “proud” of it. It is not fun, nor am I happy to have this illness. But I am indeed proud of the progress I have made in Life despite my own mind trying to destroy its potential, deny itself its own future, and undermine any chance of success or happiness.
I am jazz saxophonist/drummer and ethnomusicologist Daniel Schnee… and I’m BiPolar. I am here, and you don’t have to cheer. I’m just politely asking you to get used to it…