There are countless stigmas and stereotypes associated with different forms of mental illness. Even after all of the research and everything we know about mental health, we still haven’t come far since the days of mental asylums, shock therapy and sending those with mental disorders off to never be seen again. Thankfully, our methods of help are much more humane (as far as I know), but society’s view of people with mental disorders hasn’t much changed.
Picture, if you will, the images from movies such as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “American Psycho,” “Silence of the Lambs,” and “Girl, Interrupted.” These movies portray people with mental illness as being homicidal maniacs, seductresses, or egocentric jerks who have extremely destructive tendencies. But according to Psychiatric Times, “In actuality (with certain exceptions, e.g., substance-induced psychoses), individuals with mental disorders are not more likely to commit violent crimes than is the general population.”
You probably know at least one person suffering from a mental illness, and maybe more. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults suffers from a mental illness. The fact of the matter is, you most likely don’t even realize it most days. And there may be people in your life who you would never even guess are suffering from mental illness, but suffer silently perhaps without diagnosis or with the proper medications that help them seem healthy to outsiders.
I am one of those people. In 2013 I was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder. I haven’t spoken about it much because of the negative perceptions it often carries with it, and most people who have met me wouldn’t know that I deal with it on a daily basis. But for years, I have been dealing with bouts of hypomania — a less severe form of mania — and depression.
I am coming out of “hiding” now, so to say, because I think it is important that everyone understands that while this illness can be crippling at times, it is possible to live what is viewed as a “normal” life as well. I want to share my stories with others who have dealt with bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses, to help give them hope. I want to be understood when I am going through a depressive or hypomanic episode — with bipolar II, I tend to have more depressive episodes than hypomanic episodes.
I want the stigmas of mental illness to be lifted, and for society to understand that these are illnesses, and they need to be treated. That the people who suffer from them aren’t just looking for attention and aren’t just making it all up. They really are suffering from an illness of their mind that they can’t just turn on and off, similar to how someone with high blood pressure can’t just make their blood pressure lower.
I want to start blogging about my every day experiences with bipolar disorder to shed some light on what it is like to live with a mental illness that makes me not want to get out of bed some days and not able to sleep some nights. It is my hope that this will help those without mental illness get a better idea of what is going on inside the head of someone with one, and show those with mental illnesses that we are all in this together.
May your days and nights be filled with light and happiness. ❤