Dear Dr. Archer,
I've suffered from bipolar disorder for 45 years, and deal with it through humor, no matter how dark. My poor old dad had Parkinson's disease, and almost had a convulsion from laughing at a joke about his condition. I respect others may not like my humor but the way I cope is as good as any.
Bipolar disorder crept upon me in my teens, but I wasn't diagnosed until I was in my 30's. I felt condemned to a life fraught with failure, yet was relieved that I was not simply just a ‘bad person’.
I respect that some people need to take meds, and for some it's the only way to get through the problems of being bipolar, but for me they didn't work. Nor did any of the therapies such as CBT, which seems to offer hope to many, but didn't work for me.
I needed to find my own way of coping. The joy of humor, especially the self-deprecating kind, is that it strips away the indignity and the sense of shame and fear that can dominate your approach to the world. If I can laugh at my idiosyncrasies then the barbed remarks of others are far less wounding.
Minor things irritate and get under my skin. Take the 9 items or less in a typical supermarket checkout express lane. I am compelled to count how many items customers have in their basket, especially those ahead of me.
If someone has 10 or more, I cannot hold my tongue. On the one hand I am right, but in the scheme of things it's not worth getting upset about! But, such common sense deserts me whenever it happens.
People seem to wear their disorder like a badge, when it used to be a thing of shame. Now it's a fashion accessory: "You bipolar?", "Yeah." and then, "Me, too. Isn't it great?!"
You can learn more about me from my book, 'Dodging Suicide -- A Lifetime's Preoccupation' available from Amazon. You can follow me on Twittter @dodgingsuicide or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I must say, you have an excellent attitude and you see humor that many miss, but I agree that if it works for you then do it! Fantastic; I can tell you are both a winner and a survivor.
I admire you for figuring out what works for YOU and going for it. Some disorders ARE becoming a fashion accessory, but that’s not a bad thing. The more folks acknowledge that they have some of the traits that comprise various psychiatric diagnoses, the more these traits become de-stigmatized.
Congrats on the book, I’ll check it out and thanks for writing. Good luck.