“Is it me or is everyone else crazy?”
…and so the perpetual inner voice asked me that very question over the years. Like erections as a teenager or a drunk test to an ex, this question and its associated subsequent cacophony of thoughts, reflections and digressions rarely arrived at convenient times, happened before they could be stopped and pandered to its own propensity towards ironic timing and an, at best, apathetic regard towards the usual, day-to-day functioning of my own mind. That was, so it came to pass, until I found myself, all of a sudden, in my early thirties when I was given a diagnosis of bipolar disorder; the result of nearly six years of medication tinkering, counseling, psychiatrist assessments, drug abuse/misuse/overuse, denial, divorce, deception and much more beside.
I’m in a better place now; yet, all things in relativity.
What interested me was being told that despite having bipolar disorder since my late teens, the first “red flag” didn’t come till my mid twenties, when visiting my GP due to feeling physically ill without knowing why, the first words out of my mouth were “Sorry, I had no idea I was going to do that” – so said because before these words, I uncontrollably and unexpectedly cried my eyes out till it hurt – the first time I cried since childhood.
There will be many stories, anecdotes and reflections along the way, for better or worse. However, it’s important to know why I chose to start this blog; it isn’t because of the crying in a doctor’s room some 10 years ago…it’s because of what my first reaction was. I apologised. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, vulnerable, uncomfortable and left the room that day with a big cloak of stigma that I’m still trying to shake off (along with myriad analogies, metaphors and clichés that the ‘cloak’ and I have picked up on our ‘journey’), to this day.
Though suitable for all, my wish and want is, at the very least, to wholly and unequivocally attack the stigma of mental health and MEN – information, shared experiences, community, knowledge and more; and I will do so in a candid, unabashed and unapologetic voice.
So, like a guy with bipolar on a hypomanic episode, I’m going to go head on, in the deep end, hold my breath, and face my own battle with stigma till it no longer weighs heavy on my shoulders. And, if we have time, revolutionise the mental health world for men, women, children and all who dare to care – and make “stigma” a thing of the past.
Yours with nervous excitement and a mental health condition (not necessarily mutually exclusive),
Stay safe and thanks for giving me a chance.