A friend passed these podcasts on to me. Click here to listen to them.
The moment I clicked on the link the podcast started and the first thing you hear is a man (Carter Goodwin) describing his desire to touch the third rail of the subway track (the electrified rail). He describes his experience prior to being diagnosed with Bipolar I and what his diagnosis means. But he explains that he does not manifest the same way most people with Bipolar I do such as “doing these outrageous things” like running down the street nude. He describes himself as being manic in a way that would not shock people because he identifies as an artist and people think that his manifestation of mania is just behavior commonly associated with artists. It is interesting that he is diagnosed with Bipolar I yet still distances himself from others with that diagnosis. He also raises an interesting point that others will not necessarily think that there is a mental illness at play because many of the behaviors we associate with certain forms of mental illness primarily mood disorders we also associate with certain lifestyles like that of an artist. It makes me think about the fine line, the distinction between someone’s lifestyle and personality and actually having what we call a mental ILLNESS. Is it an illness or just a different experience or way of being that because of how much it does not match other people’s way of being it can end up having damaging affects on someone such as leading him to consider suicide by electrified subway rail.
This is of course not to belittle the experience of those with this diagnosis. The diagnosis and associated treatments are very helpful for some. It just gets me thinking.
Another interesting thing is how these podcasts are presented. They are on the Health Guide page of the New York Times website. This particular series of story is called:
Patient Voices: Bipolar Disorder
What is it like to have bipolar disorder? To be labeled “crazy”? How do you balance the ups and downs? Here, in their own words, are the stories of nine men and women living with bipolar disorder.
I’m trying to look at this from a number of different ways but I personally do not see very many negatives. I like that this is some that is “in their own words.” It is sometimes validating to share your experience in this way and to own it as YOUR unique experience. Not something that can be detailed and defined with cookie-cutter application. But it could be exceptionalizing to put it out there is this manner. “Listen to these people, they actually have it!”