My Experience Only. YMMV.

Don’t forget! March 30 is World Bipolar Day!

Kopf durch die Wand

One of my friends, who is overweight, recently told me that when she was at the gym on the treadmill, a stranger came over to her and told her she was “an inspiration.”

My friend felt insulted. She was working out for herself and for her health, not to inspire anyone else or to be taken as a symbol of I-don’t-know-what – perseverance? attitude? effort? hope?

I feel sort of the same way when people say that because I am open and public with my bipolar disorder that I am “brave.”

I’m not doing this because I’m brave. I’m doing it because I’m stubborn.

I am who and what I am, and I’m willing to reveal a lot of it because, frankly, I can’t hide it and don’t want to. I’m not average or typical. Not normal, mentally or emotionally.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the concept of “normal.” Desperately wanting to appear normal, but knowing viscerally that I am not. Wondering what it’s like, but knowing that I’ll never know. Wondering what it even means, or what it means that I’m not. I haven’t found answers yet, and at this point I don’t think I’m going to. It’s probably a waste of my time to try.

So, if I’m outside the “norm,” which I am, I may as well admit it. And since writing is what I do, I write about it. I’m not doing this because I’m “brave,” I’m doing this because on some level I have to. I’m stubborn.

I’m stubborn enough these days to have made a sort of peace with the concept of “normal,” even though I still don’t understand it.

I’m stubborn enough to acknowledge my difference and give it its proper name – bipolar disorder.

I’m stubborn enough not to care when I say that and some people flinch or back away.

I’m stubborn enough to reveal things that embarrass me because they are part of me and part of what I’ve lived and lived through.

I’m stubborn enough to get tattoos proclaiming my status as “mentally ill” and using them to open conversations and educate others.

I have not come to embrace my stubbornness easily. I’ve tried to fake “normal” and hide my differences. I’ve gone to my shrink and just referred to “doctor appointments.” I’ve made Prozac jokes even though I was taking it at the time. (For this I am truly sorry, as I later learned that one of those jokes made another person afraid to admit that she took Prozac too.)

I’m not trying to be an “inspiration.” I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone else. I’m doing what I have to do for me. If someone else finds some good in it, that’s fine. But that’s not why I do it.

I am bipolar.

I am a writer.

I am stubborn.

Taken together, you get this blog.

Bipolar Me.

Comments on: "I’m Not Brave – I’m Stubborn" (5)

  1. amybalot said:

    Yeah, it’s like the concept of “inspiration porn” in places like Facebook, where they have memes of disabled people to “inspire” non-disabled people and make them feel good about themselves (while reducing the people in the photos as props rather than human beings).

    I’ve been called “brave” for various reasons which didn’t exactly make me feel great. Brave for what? For dealing with mental and physical illness? I don’t want to be patted on the back just for existing and dealing with things I have no control over. (As you said, doing things because you have to, not out of bravery.)

    I know I sometimes make people uncomfortable because they don’t like discussion of certain things, but I consider that being honest and starting discussion.

    Like

  2. Thanks for sharing this perspective, Janet. It made me aware of how I might offend too by calling someone inspirational or brave.

    Like

  3. Jo'Ann Newton said:

    I’m not brave, and not stubborn. I am simply a survivor. I am also upfront about my bipolar and that is to help take the stigna away. It’s like the only time you hear about bipolar anywhere is when someone went off their meds and caused terrible harm. What about all of us who work hard at managing their illness everyday. So I’m upfront, I’m bipolar and had it under control for the past 3 years with only occasional one day incidents.
    Thanks for listening.
    Jo’Ann

    Liked by 1 person

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