Shame on You

I’m sure all of you out there who suffer from a mental illness will agree that it’s hard enough to cope, fight stigma, etc. on a good day.  To add another level of complexity to the mire, we also tend to heavily stigmatize ourselves.  So now, let’s add insult to injury. In recent months I’ve seen a disturbing trend in the media.  It seems that a growing number of individuals are attempting to use Bipolar Disorder as the latest personality accessory or as a trumped-up excuse to validate criminal behavior.

Criminals try to play the mental illness card all the time.  Sometimes it’s valid.  So, why am I on a rant? In my non-scientific sample reading of newspapers articles, the number of people who are using Bipolar specifically as a convenient get out of jail free card for their violent crimes seems to be on the rise.  Do people in a manic state commit violent crimes?  Yes, on rare occasions they do.  However, overall the statistics show Bipolar people who are not substance abusers are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than the perpetrator of one.   In the last two weeks I’ve read no less than three newspaper articles where purps were claiming a bout of Bipolar only – no other mental illness or substance abuse – caused them to misbehave very badly.  My personal favorite was the lad who proclaimed to be self-diagnosed.  However, all three individuals were professionally evaluated and deemed to suffer from no mental illness whatsoever.  (Oh wait!  Here’s a fourth. But, he tried to throw in the paranoid schizophrenia card as well.)  Nice try, fellas.  Bang the gavel.  Next!

Ah, Celebrities.  Celebrity is very powerful in this culture.  Celebrity is the royalty of the 20th/21st century.  If a Celebrity uses a certain product or claims to have a certain abnormality, let’s face it.  The product and abnormality will be paid attention to by the media and the public for some time.  Do I believe the recent rash of celebs who claim to have BP truly are sufferers?  No.  Statistically it cannot be the case.  I believe a lot of it is no more than opportunistic drivel by bad publicists.

Now I’ve done it.  I’ve probably angered a whole slew of you. “But all of this Bipolar talk raises awareness!”  Well, it’s a double-edged sword.  On one hand there are people who only found the courage to see a shrink after an event like CZJ’s diagnosis went public (Catherine was outed, BTW,  she did NOT go public herself.)  Kudos to those who did.  Let’s be honest, though – and this is what I’m railing against.  It is very hard for true BP sufferers to have the world take us seriously and work against stigma when Bipolar is used as a status symbol, tabloid headline fodder and the excuse-of-the-moment for bad and criminal behavior.

So, to everyone who is riding the recent Bipolar wave…to fellow sufferers who are trying to fight stigma, raise awareness and form a friendly, supportive community – go and continue to fight the good fight.  I’m behind you 110 percent.  To the rest of you who are using Bipolar as an accessory and an excuse?  I have no words for you.  Shame.  Go stand in the corner.

Go stand in the corner? How about they get their criminal jerk selves over to the prison and stand in the corner while they await the death penalty. For shame! This is exactly the thing that sets us back.

I’m putting this whole “coming out” thing in the works. It’s going to be a long process, and I’m going to have to get a lot of people involved. I’m going to start on Canvas, then, I’m going to take it local, which I hope everyone on Canvas will do.

I’ll be holding the banner in the First Annual Pittsburgh Mental Health Awareness Parade. I decided it. I’m tired of hiding and I’m tired of taking crap from the people who know about it. I am Lulu, not Looney Lulu, not Bipolar Lulu. Just plain Lulu. I am what I am. And I do the best with what cards I was dealt. I’m a caring mother, dedicated wife, enthusiastic teacher, and so much more.

Why is it that we can’t be seen for our own actions but we have to be held up against violent criminals who play the mental illness card. And it’s not so much as shame on them, but shame on their defense attorneys! Leave us alone!

“No. Statistically it cannot be the case. I believe a lot of it is no more than opportunistic drivel by bad publicists.”

No arguments from me. I whole-heartedly agree. I asked my psychologist what he thought about ‘certain’ celebrities having bipolar disorder, and he pretty much said the same thing. Expect in a psychology-type way 🙂 Well, actually, he also said that if they did have a mental illness, it was more likely to be a different one. I won’t name it, since if I had that particular disorder I wouldn’t want to be associated with said celebrities.

RE: CZJ. I heard that she was going to get ‘outed’ so she got out ahead of the story. I can’t fault her for that. I think a celebrity should be able to receive treatment and keep their privacy. I certainly appreciate that I can receive treatment without the whole world reading about it.

On the privacy – absolutely. I can’t imagine trying to seek treatment and having the paps follow me everywhere. I stigmatize myself so much as it is. I’m really curious which mental illness your psychologist said he thinks these celebs have. BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) is my guess, but I’m probably wrong.

Yep, BPD. We’ve had a couple of sports stars ‘come out’ as bipolar and he pretty much nixed that diagnosis. He did explain to me the reasons why, but I really can’t remember the details.


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