When many of us come out to people or try to tell doctors how we are struggling at the moment their first response is to tell us that we look so “normal” that they never would have guessed it.
As if Bipolar needs to LOOK really crazy.
What are they imagining when they think of Bipolar?
If a normally dressed, showered person who can speak rationally doesn’t seem Bipolar then what is this Bipolar they expect to see?
It is an invisible illness after all. Inside our brains not on our foreheads.
Look up pictures of Catherine Zeta Jones, Melody Moezzi, Patty Duke, Kay Jamison, Therese Borchard, Demi Lovato….
Do they look like women you would cross to other side of the street for?
Oh no look at that crazy lady!
If they were in the line behind you at the grocery store would you get all anxious that they were going to do something unstable.
No one would.
But that is not the general public’s idea of Bipolar disorder.
We often say we feel like we need to convince doctors that we are having difficulties with our illness. Almost like we need to play a part. Don a costume. Make sure we act really depressed or anxious or manic otherwise they will dismiss us too. Like they forget Bipolar is inside us.
We can’t really be suffering if we got dressed appropriately.
we sure can
I guess Bipolar is supposed to look a certain way.
We may feel caught between having to show our crazy to the docs in order to convince them we need help and hiding our crazy from the public in order to hide the fact that we have Bipolar disorder.
And at home with loved ones if we are crying for help we must make sure we continue to look sick. Like a kid staying home from school. You may start to feel better once in awhile and want to sit up and play with your toys or books. But you feel pressure to act sick so people will take your illness seriously and not send you out into the real world while you still feel so fragile.
Damned if we do. Damned if we don’t.
If the public holds a view of us that does not include non scary “normal” looking people…then what are they seeing in their mind’s eye when they hear the word Bipolar?
How can we change their perceptions?
Can we change their perceptions?
Is it by standing up one by one in our surprisingly normal looking humanness and declaring
“This is what Bipolar looks like”
I think that is probably what it may take.
Too bad we risk too much if we do that.