Ran into an interesting, if rather disturbing scenario at work today. My relative happens to be in the same nursing facility where I’m employed, rehabbing after an accident at home, and she has this roommate who is one of the most loud, sloppy, demanding, and opinionated people I’ve ever met. I mean, she’s got an opinion on EVERYTHING, and if you don’t believe it, just ask her how she likes the weather, what she thinks about Baltimore’s chances of winning the Super Bowl again this year, or when she believes the Zombie Apocalypse will happen.
Today after I was off duty, I went down the hall to say good-bye to my relative and ran smack into an animated discussion between the roommate and the medication aide about her cousin with—of all things—bipolar disorder. Turns out the med aide has a teenager with the condition as well, and the venting continued for some time after I entered the room.
“I tell you, this chick is CRAZY,” Roomie was going on. “She doesn’t take her meds, she drives like a complete idiot, and you just never know when she’s going to go off—why, one time she even threw a phone book at me!”
It was on the tip of my tongue to reply that if I was related to her I’d probably do more than throw a phone book, but as this is considered bad form, I kept my mouth shut. In the meantime my relative was looking at me intently, just waiting for me to put in my fifty cents’ worth because a) I rarely waste an opportunity to educate people on mental illness, and b) I’m currently hypomanic and don’t really give a crap if I get a little out of line. But somehow, this didn’t seem to be the time or place and I managed to hold my tongue.
The med aide, for her part, maintained a modicum of class as she talked about the difficulties she was having with her son, who apparently inherited BP from his father—her ex—and is resistant to taking his medications. But Roomie kept ranting on about her crazy cousin and the offenses she’s committed during her “maniac” phases (Lord, give me strength!) and it occurred to me that some people are not only ignorant of mental health issues, they’re downright STUPID…..and you can’t fix stupid even if you were to throw the whole damn DSM-V at them.
This is one of those things that a lot of folks without a mental illness never think about when they say hurtful things about us “crazy people”. That woman will never know that she was talking shit in front of an actual bipolar person, because I didn’t behave in the stereotypical manner she would’ve expected. Oh yeah, I could’ve told her a few things, but I also would’ve wound up out of work (again) and I don’t WANT to wind up out of work again. Losing my last job to bipolar was bad enough.
And that’s the truth……from the nice nurse who works down the hall.