When Normal People Freak Out, Not Us: The Bipolar Question of the Week

John McManamy Health Guide
  • A couple of weeks ago, I gave a talk on relationships staged by the International Bipolar Foundation, based in San Diego. Most of the audience had the bipolar diagnosis. During my talk, I presented them with this scenario:


    Assume two tons of crap has fallen out of the sky from nowhere, landing on the feet of a couple in a loving relationship. One of the parties has bipolar. The other has “normal.” How many think that the one with bipolar is the one most likely to freak out? I asked.


    Just about everyone raised their hands.


    How about the one with normal? I asked. Only one person raised his hand.

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    Knock me over with a feather. Even in our own community, among people like us, we have been conditioned to assume that we are the problem in any situation, any relationship, any occasion where people gather. Normal? Nothing wrong with them - that’s why they’re normal.


    Bipolar? Even we believe the stupid stuff people say about us. As long as we continue buying into this nonsense, stigma will always persist. In a sense, we are validating the stigma heaped on us by others. Stigma becomes self-stigma - the worst kind of stigma.


    The truth is that the party with normal is just as likely to freak out as the party with bipolar. I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, but when I began explaining I looked out at a whole room full of nodding heads. Very encouraging.


    I’m not going to list my reasons here. I’m more interested in your wisdom. Question:


    In a stressful situation, why would the person with normal be more likely to freak out than the one with bipolar?


    Another way of phrasing it: Why would the person with bipolar be more likely to be cool as a cucumber?


    Feel free to draw from your own experiences. Go for it. Comments below ... 

Published On: April 29, 2012