Excerpt from Life After Lithium

This is from a chapter called The Politics of Hypomania


The fact that ups and downs are normal in life is lost on some people. Instead of accepting that life can be rocky sometimes, people who are labeled bipolar tend to assume this is part of some “illness.” In my opinion, calling it an illness can cause exaggeration of “symptoms,” both in perception and reality.
If a mental patient accomplishes something, achieves a high honor or is successful at bettering his circumstances, all this can easily and quickly be diminished to nothing with an accusation of mania or hypomania.

“You finished writing a book? In how long? You must be manic.”

“So you say you feel great about making the swim team. That won’t last long. You’ll crash.”

“You got straight A’s this semester? Isn’t that overkill? Let’s talk about your perfectionism for a minute.”

And lastly, “So you say you feel terrific. I think we need to hospitalize you for mania.”

Feeling happy about one’s accomplishments is not a disease. It’s not mania. It’s something we all go through. Accomplishments are something to be proud of. I am saddened that my former providers pathologized some of my greatest achievements as “mania.”

Sometimes, I think mental health professionals are merely jealous. They can’t do art as well as you can. You may be a better athlete or in better physical shape. You may be far more advanced in math or science. From what I recall, most of them couldn’t possibly write a book (they couldn’t spell!). On one unit, the staff claimed I was delusional when I said I had masters degree. Maybe the staff think we’re only good at having symptoms and generating an income for them, courtesy of the state. They do a good job of keeping it that way, too.

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