The Tribe Has Spoken

……and they did it really loud. And really, really quickly.

As I discussed in my post from a few days ago, I was called to jury duty (again) and had to fill out an online response to confirm dates of service and answer some questions of a rather personal nature.

True to form, I waited till the last possible minute to do this. I knew it was going to take some time to answer that mental-illness question, and I wanted to be honest without overplaying it. I also figured I was going to need a letter from my pdoc confirming that I am, indeed, street-rat crazy, which is another reason why I delayed……I still hadn’t figured out how to ask for it without making him think I was trying to get out of jury duty. Which I wasn’t—well, maybe a little—but that’s beside the point.

I needn’t have worried. The dismissal was in my E-mail box before 2 PM, and I’d sent my response in around 2 AM. They didn’t even ask for a doctor’s note. The jury manager must’ve taken one look at the words bipolar disorder and said something along the lines of “oh HELL no!” I’d gone into some detail about my issues with attention and memory, but the way mental illness itself is still stigmatized, I probably could’ve saved myself the trouble.

I’m not sure how to feel about that.

It’s not like I’m unhappy about not having to serve. But I wasn’t so much asking to get out of it as answering their question honestly, and the reaction was so swift it actually shocked me. Which is pretty hard to do…..if being a nurse doesn’t make you jaded and hard to shock, NOTHING does.

A friend of mine texted me after I posted this news on Facebook, surprised that I wasn’t kicking and screaming about discrimination because being excused from jury duty based solely on an MI diagnosis is discrimination, and pretty blatant discrimination at that. But after I thought about it for a few minutes, I had to acknowledge that I don’t blame them for dismissing me.

I really wouldn’t want someone like me on the jury if I were a defendant. Or an attorney. Or a judge. The fact that I’m stable now doesn’t make me any less of a wild card, especially under the stress of sitting through a trial that at best might be boring, and at worst, triggering. Though the vast majority of jury trials are brief, and don’t involve murder and mayhem, there’s always the off chance of being seated for one like that. And frankly, even the possibility that I could hold someone’s fate in my shaky hands would be totally unfair to all concerned.

Yes, I really do take all this very seriously, even though I make jokes about falling asleep in the jury box because I’ve been dragged out of bed too early. And yes, as militant as I am about stigma and discrimination, even I know there are limits to what people with serious mental illness can (and should) do. Not those with occasional depression or anxiety that’s easily treated with a little Prozac; I know many such people, and I wouldn’t hesitate to trust any one of them with my freedom OR my life. But someone who gets as effed up in the head as I do sometimes? No way.

There. I said it. And for that matter, I don’t think we should become police officers, Navy SEALs, or President of the United States. (Of course, I don’t believe our Narcissist-in-Chief should be either, and he doesn’t have any psychiatric diagnoses that I’m aware of…..but that’s a whole ‘nother post which doesn’t belong in a MH blog.)

In the meantime, I’m out of jury service for good… least, until the municipal court decides to send me a summons. I’m sure the county and city governments don’t communicate, and it’s been two years since the lower court called me. In fact, I’m OVERdue.

To be continued……..


Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

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