It’s Time to Let Bipolar People Talk

By Devon Henry: For Entire Post, Go Here…

More often than not, we’re reduced to horrible archetypes who ruin everyone’s lives.

The lights went down, the trailers ended, my boyfriend put his phone on silent. Quickly we were introduced to Florence Pugh’s Dani, her awful boyfriend and her… bipolar sister? I, very briefly, thought that perhaps her sister was being introduced to highlight her boyfriend’s insensitivity. Maybe we were being introduced to her to explore the looming threat of suicide that hangs over the heads of all people who struggle with mental illness and the grief and guilt it visits upon loved ones.

I was half-right, if we’re being generous. The film veered off into a jarring subplot where in (spoilers) Dani loses her entire family in a confusingly elaborate murder-suicide at the hands of her renegade manic-depressive sister. When I was told the film explored the effects of grief, this hadn’t exactly been what I was expecting.

But there it was—my own fear staring back at me from a 30-foot screen, with milky eyes and vomit on her chin. I was the monster this time. It hadn’t even occurred to me that willful misunderstandings of mental illness were still possible given that Google is both readily accessible and free.

You see, I’m bipolar too.

I started to see us everywhere in pop culture; Grotesque caricatures that were somehow more productively evil than any mentally ill person I have ever met: elaborate murders, cross-country roadtrips for opiates and falsified medical records, killing their entire families in boating accidents because they were feeling manic, and endangering their sister’s casino-boat-drug-trafficking enterprise.

I found myself self-conscious for two reasons: 1. My disorder was suddenly front and center in the worst possible light and 2. The fact that the most I’d ever accomplished during a manic episode was completely destroying my hair with bleach then writing the first half of three terrible essays. If these depictions were any indication, I was grossly underperforming.

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