As opinionated as I am, I have been given a reputation of being judgmental and unforgiving when it comes to criticism and first impressions. I have carried the “bully” I was born as on through elementary, college and into my professional life. I enjoyed picking on people’s flaws. Oblivious to the fact that they were a bit too scared to point out mine. Excessively hyper people went down in my book as infants with a license to annoy. I saw depressed specks of life, commonly referred to as the touchy kind, as indoor plants. Keeping still, in a corner of the room, and able to survive without sunlight are traits often seen in plant-like depressives.
Now my favorite, were the people with mood swings. I didn’t need to watch them, comprehend the things they said or even be in the same room. The answer was simple. I said they were “pms-ing”. You can surely imagine how creative I became when my amateur psych evaluation had to be done on a male with mood swings! All that changed when recently, I learned of a mental disorder called bipolar disease, or Manic Depression.
At first glance I couldn’t grip why being manic could be so bad. I mean you have the will power of Superman, feel the genius of Einstein and don’t need to sleep. I don’t even have a hyperbole to match the lacking need for sleep! The thing that really caught my attention, was the great sex people had in a manic state! Reckless, fun, in the moment, jubilant, full of life and damn right sexy is how I would describe a manic person. I for one would definitely fall in love with the person described above. I am so attracted to my description, I have decided to name the described person, Maria. Assume I married Maria in Vegas. (Please remember I asked you to “assume”. I am a happily married man who does not want trouble!)After a few amazing, furniture breaking, yelp inducing, memorable and sweaty adventures in every square inch of a cheap motel would I realize the secret life she lived. The life of agonizing mental pain, suicide attempts, guilt, fatigue and constant exhaustion. While reading about this opposite side of the disease most patients face, my sweet Maria’s face melted away.
Stephen Fry, a popular comedian in late 80’s and 90’s, had admitted to four suicide attempts by the age of seventeen. Robbie Williams, the pop icon, found the high way to hell in the form of booze and drugs. Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia as she is most often fantasized about, has admitted to excessive drinking and an intentional overdose of cocaine. Catherine Zeta-Jones has been known to check into a Mental Rehabilitation center after Michael Douglas’s cancer recovery (I still think she was depressed about him surviving!). Vincent Van Gogh, the legendary painter of the Starry Night, is said to have be in extreme mania to paint as he did. Unfortunately, he was in his extreme depression when he killed himself.
You might think you are extremely fortunate that there isn’t a manic depressive in your life. But are you sure? You would only have seen the partying, socialite manic forms. Neither of us would know when they are depressed, under the bed covers nibbling on a million dollars worth of pills in an attempt to end their misery! According to a recent survey, there are nearly three million bipolar patients in the United Kingdom. The United States has nearly six million! It’s almost as if you have to be a manic depressive to be called an American!
I guess being manic depressive is almost like being a homosexual man, in a Super bowl winning football team. Being tackled by a gay man would not bode well in the locker room. There is an unavoidable stigma attached to it, one which I used to verbally abuse too! But in no way does a man’s sexual preference affect his ability to blitz the opposition back to the measly town they came from. Manic depressives should undoubtedly come out.
To hell with the uninformed, misguided, inbred, intolerant world! You are God’s creation and undoubtedly deserve to live a fulfilling life. For one, you are the life of the party. And secondly, for your own safety, keep friends and family informed of how to help you incase of an emergency. If not for yourself, if not for me, if not for your family… Do it for Maria.