Are bipolar sufferers crazy or special? I think it depends on your perspective. The general public would probably lean towards “crazy” because it is easier to marginalize someone you don’t understand. It is easier to control someone who is treated as an aberration. I am afraid this view might extend to family, friends, doctors and other mental health professionals. This is because no one really understands what it means to be bipolar. How could anyone without direct experience as a sufferer?
I think this situation is responsible for most bipolar sufferers being thrown on life’s scrap heap and often prematurely. I have met a lot of other bipolar sufferers in my 28 years as a sufferer. I can say without a doubt that the majority of sufferers are very intelligent and have hidden talents. For the most part, bipolar sufferers are treated like other mental illness sufferers. They are medicated heavily and sent home to get on with their lives. Many of their friends, family and former colleagues have backed off, especially if they came face to face with a manic episode. This is the true stigma, not that by the general public or even the media. Highly intelligent people are left isolated and often unable to find work. I am convinced that many problems of bipolar sufferers are caused by a lack of meaningful activity and a feeling of not being wanted.
I believe that many bipolar sufferers have much to offer society. Society would rather they were medicated and seen but not heard. There are exceptions such as celebrities. Sufferers like Stephen Fry would argue that it is the same for them to be bipolar. They may suffer the same traits but money and fame do make life easier. While Stephen Fry is fighting off work all the time, many sufferers can’t find any kind of work. When was Stephen Fry asked for a CV or resumé. His checkered past is a badge of honor. For most bipolar sufferers it is a sign of mental illness.
Many bipolar sufferers have written their experiences in a book. Very few have sold many copies, I would wager. Publishers are only interested in celebrity authors, even if they are C-list or D-list. The book stores are filled with piles of discounted celebrity biographies. People like me find it hard to get their book discounted and it will never appear in a book store. Publishers and retailers don’t seem to want to sell books by unknown people?
The bipolar sufferer’s main support comes from other sufferers, either in support groups of on-line social network sites. At least other sufferers truly understand and listen without judging.
I asked the question “Hero or Zero?”. I would suggest that many bipolar sufferers have the potential to be heroes. Instead, they are treated as zeros and stamped “reject”. I am doing myself to be a hero but it is a constant struggle. Thanks for reading.