We’re Not All Shooters

If you’ve watched the news lately, you may have seen that there was a shooting in Michigan on Saturday night.  It was fairly close to home for me.

“Close to home” as in, they caught the guy within three miles of my house.  I heard the sirens.  That close.

As happens with most shootings, people immediately begin discussing how something this tragic could only occur because the man was probably mentally ill.  And they whisper it, like they don’t want to say it too loud or they might catch it themselves.  Put some hand sanitizer on, people.  You don’t want to catch a mental illness.

The man very well could have been mentally ill.  He probably was.  What bothers me about this conversation is that we should shine a spotlight on mental illness awareness, but not like this.  People like this man are the reason why people are scared of mental illnesses.  This man is the reason why, when I tell people I have bipolar disorder, many react with fear.  They try to act normal, but I see it in their eyes.  I slowly see a difference in the way they treat me as well, like I’m a ticking time bomb who could explode into violence at any second.  Ummm… I’m not violent.  I don’t even let Andy kill spiders – I make him take them outside so they can frolic freely in our garden.

I wish we could shine a spotlight on mental illness when someone awesome has it and has overcome its challenges.  Why can’t we say, “Hey look…Catherine Zeta-Jones just won an Oscar.  She has bipolar disorder.  Look how far she’s come.”  Why can’t we stand in art museums and say, “Did you know it’s suspected that Vincent van Gogh had bipolar disorder?  But look at what amazing things he was able to accomplish because his brain worked differently than other people’s…”  Good, successful people have struggled with mental illnesses.  Why can’t we choose those moments to bring awareness to these issues?  Then we would be bringing a message of hope instead of a message of fear.

Yes, I have bipolar disorder.  Yes, that is a mental illness.

No, I’m not going to kill anyone.

We’re not all shooters.

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4 thoughts on “We’re Not All Shooters

  1. i have started becoming more open with the fact that i have bipolar disorder. I too witness the change in people after I say the dreaded words. It makes me want to regret saying it out loud; but I refuse to just be judged based on something so superficial. It makes me angry.

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  2. Great post, but it really sucks that bipolar gets that stereotype. I hope the world soon becomes more understanding! I was wondering, if it’s not too personal (I’m deciding to ask you this because we comment on each other’s posts casually, and you’re a very nice person from my impression!), if you could maybe write or reply to this comment or something about what it’s like to have a more manic episode. I’m quite interested to know more, since people only tend to really recognise the depressive episodes. I’m also asking because I’m trying to work out what’s going on with me! Although I don’t have bipolar or a mood disorder that I know of, I keep getting these crazy mood swings that last anywhere from a few minutes, to a few hours, to days, usually. I can’t work out if they’re just another symptom of my ADD or Asperger’s though. I know it’s common in both of these to get mood swings as extreme as I get them (people actually compare them to bipolar on the net which I think is unfair because how could they possibly know and compare two separate things that people struggle with equally as hard), but I’m not sure about my more “manic” swings if they’re common in what I have. When I get the depressive swings it’s just typical depression, but when I’m really happy and really excited to just be alive, I feel like I can accomplish anything. I’ll try and take up every skill that I can learn. Recently I was very happy for a few days and decided to learn to skateboard, so I spent £80 on one, but all of a sudden my mood has plummeted. Sometimes the mood swings are caused by things but sometimes they are for no reason. Sorry to just dump all of my problems on you in a comment, but I just thought if I knew what a bipolar manic episode was like, I can work out more if this is a symptom of what I already have or if I should get it checked out. I hope it’s okay to ask you this though! Feel free to say that you’d rather not write anything about it though.

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    • That’s a really good idea, Charlotte. I just finished the post I was planning to post today, but let me start one about mania and see if I can make it any good. If it’s crap, I’ll come back and just respond specifically to your question (I don’t mind ANY questions, by the way – I’m all for spreading knowledge about this illness!). If it’s halfway decent, though, I’ll post it to the blog. I think it’s a good idea to write about mania, because maybe other people will identify with it or comment on their own experiences. That way you’d have even more info! Mental illnesses are so confusing… I’m sorry that you’re struggling with mood swings. Obviously only a doctor can tell you whether bipolar is a factor for you or not, but I can tell a bit more about my experience. Look for a post in the next few days about it, otherwise I’ll just comment to you specifically. Thanks for the question!

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