Wednesday, 14 November 2007

A Secret Society

In this post I talk about the Bipolar society as a secret society. I make reference to Stephen Fry's Documentary called the "The Secret Life of the Manic-Depressive." I try to address the difference between stardom and being a normal citizen. I talk about the difficulties bipolar people face in society. Then I argue that bipolar people need a network of friends and support. I conclude by talking about my current experience with jobs and maintaining them.


Being Bipolar means quite often that we never seem to meet each other or even hear about each other. In many respects we are very lucky if we do meet each other in person. The problem seems to be that many people don't seem to have recognized bipolarity as a harmless and distinguished illness whereby such people have to struggle everyday with ongoing difficulties.

There are of course many people such as Stephen Fry, Jim Carrey, Carrie Fisher (Princess Leila from Star Wars), Robbie Williams, Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws And Jaws 2) and Jean Claude Van Damme who all seem to entertain many people without even having to mention that they have a mental illness of any kind. They are just born to entertain and some of them were able to perform their best when they were slightly manic. Nevertheless depression can also bring out creativity and time to think. l am beginning to learn that those who can learn how to bend round their mood swings can eventually reach places insurmountable. Bipolar people are not disabled they are born with a gift I believe. Hence they have the power to move and to think.
This is all easy to say when you have reached the pinnacles of stardom but what does one do if they are bipolar and considered a normal citizen like everybody else. Stephen Fry's Documentary of the "Secret Life of the Manic-Depressive" gave me a very good introduction to this phenomenon but I believe there is more to add. It is very difficult to pinpoint the exact timing of when someone becomes bipolar but for me I would say it was around the age of 6 when my father died. A complete shaking of my emotions had left me traumatized by the time I was 21. Every bipolar person sooner or later realizes that something is and has been inevitably wrong with them at a certain age. As a matter of fact everyone goes through a mid-life or just a simple life crisis two or three times in their life but for the manic-depressive, neglecting medications everyday may mean a crisis every single day. Therefore we can conclude that medication and therapy are the right cure for balancing a bipolar. Consequently a crisis can be avoided.

As I mentioned by the age of 21 I was left with an immense amount of anxiety, stress and fear but I had managed to successfully finish my degree. I was distraught by the traumatic experience of my psychosis and I did not know where I was heading. Some bipolar people are lucky because there has been no significant problem in their childhood. I'm sure many of you readers will agree however that this is not always the case. Built-up stress, anxiety and anger all lead to problems in further life and I believe that without treatment it is difficult to overcome such problems. As such because of such problems the bipolar society has inevitably become a secret society.

Telling a person that you are bipolar is difficult because they may not understand its true meaning. They may frown upon the therapists you go to, they may think that you are just exaggerating, they may think you are just looking for excuses, in fact they may even think that you are just following a cult of people who wear 'I am Bipolar' teeshirts. Such people just don't understand the extremes that we go to but that's okay because we learn who to avoid and who to share our secrets with. The bipolar community is a secret society and that means that we have to work and play undercover.

Despite all this confidentiality we can sometimes make the best of friends and even find bipolar members like ourselves. With good friends who are there to support us in our most difficult times we can reach the top of the world. A bipolar person needs friends and they can be of any age or gender. Even pet therapy concludes that having a pet around the house to love and look after can be highly beneficial for the bipolar person. Whether your mood swings are high or lower your friend or pet will always be beside you to cheer you up. If the bipolar person cannot find friends then it is always helpful to discuss this with a professional. If you are in great need for help and you need someone to discuss your issues with, you can always go to the bipolar support chat room. There are many people there who are always helpful with any issue you may have. So hope is always there.

When a bipolar begins to look for or start working for a company it is then that things become much trickier. Most first world countries have made a place for a disability act which includes mental health issues as well. Under this act it is illegal for a company to discriminate against you on the grounds that you are bipolar. Third and Second World countries believe that bipolar people are mentally "unstable" and therefore a risk to the company and its employees. This is when we bipolars have to put our cloaks on. We are therefore ready, eager to please and fully confident. In the future I hope that I won't need to use medication or go to therapy so that I can fully function like a normal person. But until then I have decided to go for part-time or freelance jobs so that I can stay at home as much as possible. As long as the bipolar makes a start things will hopefully turn out for the better (touch wood). Even if things go wrong our secret society will always be there for us.

I for one have learnt that I should keep my head up and my chin straight. I hope you can do the same too.

16 Comments:

ilker said...

This is a really informative post. I didn't really know how hard it was like to be bipolar and never heard of the secret society as well!

Thanks for sharing

Feeling Increasingly Irrate. said...

This is a horribly constructed and barely cohensive article offering no presence of mind for someone afflicted with Bipolar Personality Disorder. Claiming that Bipolarity is a "special gift" is not only ignorant, but completely outlandish towards this "secret society" that I am not fully convinced you have a place in. How dare you say that Bipolarity is "curable" through medication and therapy, or even preluding to an idea that it "goes away."

Fail.

dave said...

I have bipolar and I see it as a gift !! It makes me very creative and fast thinking..

brian said...

@Feeling Increasingly Irrate: You fail for not understanding what this is all about. The mind of a bipolar person is very complex to the level you will never comprehend.

Extrememoo said...

Thank you for your comments. Im going to publish a new post about methods of treatment and I will try to be as coherent as possible.

Anonymous said...

Great post!!! I have bipolar II and I can totally relate with a lot that you've said.

I've started a website at www.iambipolar.ca to share all the information I've collected so far on the illness. I believe an educated position is always the best position to be in. I've also started a discussion forum at this website as well if you are interested in joining.

P.S. - I'm going to add a link to this blog from my website. Keep up the great work!!!

Terry said...

@feeling increasingly irrate: Ouch! That was a ton of heavy bricks on someone who seems to have learned about their condition and is struggling to understand and express it as best he can IN PUBLIC (that takes some doing!)so that he and perhaps other sufferers can get past the black despair and repressed anger that this Ph.D in Bipolarity doesn't seem to have! Keep writing, Extrememoo.

architetto said...

@feeling increasingly irrate: From his introduction I get the feeling that Memo was a perfect child. How can you say that this is not a gift. Of course this is a gift to these special people. They can see the world with a very different point of view. They can be so clever that they can create or discover something. Yes we call it an illness but it is not an illness that prevents people from something. It does not disable people. Next time before commenting just think a little bit more. I do not believe that you can respond logically but at least you do not disturb other people.
Thank u.

Extrememoo said...

Thank you very much for your comments. I think feeling increasingly irrate was just trying to say that he didn't like the post and the argument I made. I tried to clarify everything in the following post. Thank you for your attention

The Old Man said...

I agree there is a society that is secret in my world. Mental health through will training. Doctor Low. All people have the opportunity to attend meetings seven days a week in different cities at different times. After the meetings some people gather for fellowship. Every once in a while I speak with someone who is bipolar. Its like we have leprosy. I learn in meetings that average people develop symptoms I thought were bipolar but not so. I have gone to as many as four meetings a week usually hour and a half plus. Anywho I have learned many of my BP thoughts and symptoms are equal to the average person. Then I started going to Alanon meetings. I continue to learn how sensitive people are to family or friends who are alcoholics. Again some of the pains and anxiety are common to some of the pains I have as having BP.I thought I was 100% BP screwed up.I have spent many hours trying to compare myself to all people at these meetings. I think I am only 75% different from average. In my neighborhood there are no nightly meetings for people with BP.The FBI nor the CIA have daily meetings at the different Churches.Neither does the Local 134 teamsters Mob. They are secret societys that don't allow society to hear what is spoken at there meetings. My thoughts are not posted on the evening news. I am a new member to your secret society. Bipolarity is curable through medication and my visits to the military social worker. Just not 100%. I was on the wrong medication for five years. Met a woman who came up through the ranks of the pharmacy then graduated to become a phyciatrist who changed my life. I was cured from the bad meds to meds that work for me. Therapy is all of the meetings I go to. I cured lowered feelings to more understanding feelings. There is no cure for aids but there are people able to live longer because of different meds. To be cured for me is to escalate to a higher level of comfort through public education and a doctor that gave me the correct medication. I have been cured from level 10 bipolarity to level 9. This secret society rules. I am glad I found you.

Alexia said...

Thank you for this post! I've just been diagnosed with Bipolar II which is actually a relief for me. The struggle is the reaction of some of those closest to me. I like the idea of a secret society. Since some think I am exaggerating, it's comforting to know that people out there understand.

Extrememoo said...

Thank you Alexia for reading this post. I would however like to state that everyone has something physically wrong with them. However the bipolar illness is still not fully understood. I have met and heard about many bipolar people during my travels and they all seem to do things unconventionally. Its hard being bipolar and its also hard surviving in life. So we have extra cause for stress I believe :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a long-haul trucker here in the US, and pretty sure I'm also bipolar. Alas, the department of transportation has ruled that any diagnosis of bipolar, ever, is an immediate and permanent ban on driving a truck. So how do I get treated without losing my career?

Extrememoo said...

I recommend you speak to a doctor about this issue so that you know if you have a diagnosis and what you can do about it affecting your career. Iam not qualified to give you straight answer.

Anonymous said...

To 'Feeling increasingly Irrate'...Bipolar is NOT a personality Disorder. Bipolar disorder is a MOOD disorder.WHile I happen topersonally agreethat thearticle isn't exactly illiminating, more generally -if you're going to accuse people who believe bipolarity is a gift of being ignorant again...try dispel your own ignorance first. Its arguable whether those who believe bipolar to be a gift are ignorant, where as it is - by definition- accurate to refer to someone who understands bipolar as a personality disorder as ignorant.

Also - to the world at large...there's a secret society for or created by people diagnosed with bipolar? News to me...

I've been diagnosed for years and known 'bipolar people' and there's never been any sense of comeraderie because of bipolar any morethan there iscomeraderiebetween fellow white people or fellow english borns. If there's been ANY'special' communication due to the fact we're both bipolar its been shifty glances and hushed pleads not to discuss or 'give away' each other as such.

-Takes a breath- Another point...The disiability act doesnt mean bipolar individuals canbeopenor honest with their employers or collegues for a lot of people. Hell, I admitted I was dyslexic to an employer once and wasn't even allowed to finish the job interview...so tell an employer you're bipolar and, well, dont expect a call back anytime soon in most cases.

Finally,why is there all this 'secret society that I am not fully convinced you have a place in' and 'mind of a bipolar is very complex to a level you wouldnt understand' bollocks...being diagnosed bipolar means beingtold by adoctor you have a life-long debilitating psychoticdisorder, nothing more. It certainly doesnt make anyone universal spokesperson for anyone diagnosed with bipolar or buy you a ticket into any secret clubs...

The fact I am female does not mean I know or could ever know the plights and hardships faced by every woman.

Archetetto...bipolar CAN 'disable' people by the very definition of the word. Someone who is experiencing mania and psychosis four times a year for the majority of their lives and then severe depression in-between is 'dis-abled' when it comes to preforming and managing to live a life like the majority of a population.

Extrememoo said...

Thank you for illuminating me on the real procedures in the UK of where I assume you are from anonymous. I am actually thinking of entering a teaching job so I will hopefully be more engaged with people. I think in some ways a secret society does exist and when I meet people who are bipolar we tend to understand each other much better than we would someone with kidney stones.

I did not suggest that bipolar disorder could be cured, I merely suggested a temporary cure to the anxiety and anger that we tend to suffer from. And as suggested in "The secret life of the manic-depressive" we are all entitled to our yes or no answer when considering if we wanted to abolish our illness altogether so for me bipolar disorder is a gift which I regretfully possess.