This is the second annual World Bipolar Day. It’s a day to raise awareness of bipolar disorders and the people who live with them. It’s also a day to educate the public in the hope of eliminating the stigma surrounding ALL mental illness. And the only way we can do that is to speak out.
The date was selected because it’s the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was diagnosed posthumously with what is believed to have been manic-depressive illness. For my part, I’m proud that people with this disorder are finally talking about it instead of hiding in a closet. Much of what our society believes about bipolar is wrong, and those of us with lived experience are the best source of information; but putting ourselves out there can still be risky for us due to discrimination in employment, loss of friendships and changes in our social status. I have experienced all three, so I know that prejudice against the mentally ill is very much alive and well in this supposedly enlightened era.
But on this World Bipolar Day, there is hope for the future. Celebrities such as Carrie Fisher and Catherine Zeta-Jones have come forward to discuss their condition in the public eye, which has helped some people with bipolar to feel less ashamed of their illness. It is my hope that the growing awareness will dispel the myths and make people without mental disorders realize that we are not to be feared, so that one day MI will be regarded with the same compassion given to physical illnesses.
Thank you for caring.