I've been writing about bipolar for 20 years. Yes, this is my 20th anniversary. And since 2000, I have been writing about bipolar disorder professionally. I suppose that means I'm old. It also means that I have written a lot. I've written over 700 blog articles for HealthyPlace in the last 13 years. I've done about the same on my own blog. On top of those 1400 posts, I've written hundreds and hundreds of articles on the main part of HealthyPlace and elsewhere (not all about bipolar disorder). The grand total is unknown, but it's at least 2000, anyway. And the question I get asked a lot is, how can you write about bipolar disorder so much? How can you do that for 20 years?
Understanding Mental Illness
At this time of year, we might think about how to change various aspects of our lives. We might want to change our looks, habits, or many other things. These changes are often expressed in the form of new year's resolutions. And as most of us have witnessed, new year's resolutions rarely last past the year being new. I think this, in part, is because we don't think about how to change and what's required to change. And in many cases, change begins with one simple idea: not changing has to be more painful than changing.
The word "neurodivergent" is flung around social media and is now very politically correct. For example, it's supposedly okay to call a person "neurodivergent," whereas calling them "mentally ill" will get you social media-canceled. But if people insist on using the term neurodivergent, then let's at least know what it means and how to use it properly.
I'm tired of explaining bipolar disorder to people. I realize this is a terrible sentiment to one who actually does this for a living, but it's one I've found myself thinking about at times. In some respects, explaining bipolar disorder and mental illness in general to people is extremely rewarding; in other ways, though, it's just a slog. Having the same conversation over and over again about mental illness with someone who has no clue is exhausting.
In our society, people are shamed for not having a positive outlook. In fact, I just read a comment on LinkedIn that said, "Maintaining a positive outlook, ALWAYS, is so very important. Always look for that silver lining. Trust me, in the end, everything is exactly where it should be." And that sums up how many people feel about a positive outlook: it's critical, and something's wrong with you and your line of thinking if you don't have a positive outlook.
Recently, a report by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that every adult under 65 be screened for anxiety by their primary care doctors (family doctors). When I first saw the headline, my initial response was, "Well, that's stupid. You go to the doctor when you're sick, and people know when they're sick." But, upon second thought, I realized this was wrong. Screening for anxiety in general doctor's appointments does make sense.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and so the question arises: no matter what we do, can we prevent all suicides? I think even the most ardent suicide-prevention groups would admit that we can't prevent all suicides. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that people often decide to end their life mere moments before they do it, and it's hard to get to those people in those moments. Nonetheless, can we still chip away at the number of suicides? Can we really prevent most suicides? (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
I can't stop crying. It's because of personal loss and depression; I know this. But it seems that all the knowledge in the world doesn't help. It seems like I just manage to right the ship, and then I find myself in a pool of brackish water again. Not everyone with depression reacts this way, but I cry far more than my fair share. No matter what I do, I just can't stop crying.
Recently a friend ruined my mental health. Well, a friend combined with preexisting bipolar disorder, ruined my mental health. I don't believe in blaming people for mental health problems, per se; but, sometimes people do things that are so damaging, a change in mental health really is pretty much their fault. So, what do you do when a friend ruins your mental health?
I can't stop insulting myself. I'm depressed, and that's one of the things that I do when I'm depressed. The insults I say at myself are unbelievably harsh and things I would never say to anyone else. But even though I know that it's the depression, and even though I know that it's negative and harmful, I just can't stop insulting myself.