About Me

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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have a poem in The Poeming Pigeon, essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. My story "Santa Lucia" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I've written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished. I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 30th: World Bipolar Day

March 30th is World Bipolar Day. I look at this as a day for people to "come out" about having bipolar disorder (if they're ready to), or to talk about loved ones with bipolar, or to engage in dialogue about bipolar and what society needs to know in order for the stigma to be erased and misunderstandings about this disease to be eradicated.

There's a stigma surrounding all mental illness, and with bipolar disorder, I think that, in part, the  stigma manifests in sentiments such as "Snap out of it!" if you're depressed, or "Get a grip!" if you're manic. There's also the (supposedly humorous) question, "Did you forget to take your medication today?" This makes bipolar into a joke--something to poke fun at. And then there are people who toss around the term "bipolar" lightly. They have a change in mood and suddenly, "I'm so bipolar!" Or someone has trouble making a decision and waffles and so, "You're so bipolar!" Of course, let's not forget bipolar disorder as a fad, as the disease of the day, as an excuse for bad behavior. A celebrity or public figure behaves erratically, and suddenly he or she has bipolar disorder. The sad part is that some celebrities and public figures may indeed have it. But we may not always see it in their behavior. Others who behave badly may also have it, but isn't it awful that these people become jokes, or the butt of jokes, or just dismissed as "crazy"?

What people need to know is that bipolar is not a joke, it's not funny, it's not a fad, and it's not simply a matter of being up or down. There are ups and downs, but there's a spectrum filled with many shades of color in between. For example, a person with bipolar may have a mixed episode in which he or she is accelerated and manic, but also filled with sadness and the terrible ache of depression. And there's hypomania, a lesser form of mania, and dysthymia, a lesser form of depression (but not necessarily less painful).

And then there are the other troubles that come along with bipolar. Fatigue, fogginess, cognitive difficulties, trouble with decision making, trouble accomplishing day-to-day tasks, difficulties with school and/or jobs, substance and/or alcohol abuse, insomnia or sleeping too much, overspending, overeating or not eating enough, anxiety (sometimes very severe), gambling, sexual promiscuity... the list could go on. But I'll leave it to my readers to do some research--I would love it if you would do some reading as a way to recognize World Bipolar Day. There's excellent information on the website of the National Institute of Mental Health and on WebMD. Please take some time to read this information if you'd like to know more about this illness.

I'm very open about my bipolar because I feel I put a "normal" face to this illness. Those who know me, or have gotten to know me through this blog, know that I'm not scary or dangerous. They may know that I struggle, but they also know that I work very hard to maintain balance. They know I want to be well, and that I'm not just "doing this for attention" (another gem I've heard and read). So please, on March 30th, think of us, the millions of us globally who have bipolar, and fight with us to treat this like any other medical illness.

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