All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…

Why do people WANT to be bipolar?


I found an article on the BBC yesterday which had me firing small spittles of foam as I attempted to digest the words without throwing up. I don’t know about you, but I hate it when you have that vomity taste in your throat.

Why would anyone want to be bipolar?

There is now a group of people who are actively seeking out a diagnosis of a mental disorder and want to be known as bipolar.

What – the – f**k?

A new diagnosis of bipolar disorder might reflect a person’s aspiration for higher social status and a feeling that by having the condition they too are creative.

What – the – f**k!

Do these people understand how serious this condition can be? Higher social status my butt! Try experience the discrimination against mental illness and then tell me what sort of social status you’ll receive through your life!

But the article also, thankfully, pointed out:

It is a serious condition that may significantly impair relationships, work and social functioning.

Indeed it is Mr/Ms BBC article; it is also worth remembering that:

  • The average suicide rate for those with bipolar is 10 – 20 times more than the general population!
  • In fact, it’s estimated that 20% of those with bipolar will kill themselves (that’s one in five people!)
  • And, 50% of those with bipolar will attempt suicide at least once in their lifetime (that’s one in two people!)
  • That those with bipolar have a standardized mortality rate of 18-25!
  • It is the third leading cause of death in the 15-24 age bracket!
  • It is the sixth leading cause of disability of people in the 15-44 age bracket in the world!
  • Women with bipolar lose, on average, 9 years in life expectancy, 14 years of lost productivity and 12 years of normal health.
  • It is also worth remembering that in Australia one third of people suffering from bipolar are not receiving the treatment that they need; that’s over 33,000 people!

Why on earth would anyone want to be bipolar?

Last Sunday I awoke after a rather weird encounter in the park feeling pretty good. I moseyed into town, did my Sunday AM litter collection and then wrote. The blog post I wrote wasn’t too bad and I was in a good mood come mid afternoon; smiling, happy, even cracking jokes to myself and those pesky eavesdroppers.

Five minutes later I was crying as I fled down Swanston Street in order to escape and hide in my park. I spent most of the afternoon crying. I’d get it under control, scold myself for being weak (men aren’t allowed to cry remember) and then a few minutes later I’d burst into tears again. In public. In a street. With people looking at me as if I were a crazed terrorist paedophile!

It was one of the most sudden mood swings I’ve ever had and has led to one of the worst weeks I can remember since 2007. The depression I’ve been feeling this week has consumed everything I’ve felt and done, shrouding me in darkness and despair. It’s made even simple tasks (walking into the city, reading tweets) almost impossible. Death hasn’t been far from my thoughts; especially when a man walked through Federation Square with a scythe. Seriously freaky!

I just don’t get why anyone would want to be bipolar?

Sure, there’s creativity, but what’s the point when you’re either too manic or too depressed to actually do anything with all those rampaging thoughts?

Sure, there’s the excuse to do stupid things when pissed…but the discrimination you’ll experience on a daily basis, rejection from friends and relationships, family rifts, lost employment opportunities, the dodgy health system to navigate, the life-long dependence on zombiefying medication…means that the chances are you won’t have the money/friends/opportunities to go and get pissed in the first place!

Me? I’d do anything to not be bipolar – so, if you want it so badly, wanna swap?

You might not want it so much if you knew what came with this alleged social status tag.

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2 thoughts on “Why do people WANT to be bipolar?

  1. I don’t get the appeal of being bipolar to those who don’t have it. Mine is very mild, though its vulnerable to being exacerbated by any number of things. It complicates my life in ways I do not enjoy, desire, or would ever ever chosen for myself. And as I said, mine isn’t even an “average” case.

    Truth be told, I think the fascination people have with it is has to do with two things. One is its association with famous creative people. It’s another way people can “latch on” to their idols, whether those idols be either dead or alive. The second is that it is a status symbol. Being a victim of something, regardless of its being true or not, has been in vogue for, as far as I know, about fifty years. “Victimhood makes you special” is the way I understand it, generally. It’s an identity for some when they’re real identity isn’t dramatic enough.


    • Thanks for the comment :)

      The latching on to famous creative types I can understand, especially with people like Stephen Fry (legend!) but surely you can aspire to be one of your idols without having to emulate them completely; especially if that meant a serious mental illness? Although a lot of the time celebrities seem to use their “mental illness” to excuse their behaviour (e.g Tiger Woods, Britney, LiLo) which could be seen as a drawcard to act however you wanted.

      As for the victimhood mentality, I just don’t get it – never have. I’m fairly sure people don’t aspire to be the ‘victim’ of rape for the status of it. The last thing you feel as a victim of anything is “special”, quite the opposite in fact.

      Maybe people should just be happy being themselves rather than craving for something that ‘defines’ them (or ‘excuses’ their behaviour)


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