I have been thinking of this tweet over and over again since I first read it. It really drives home for me just how strong stigma is, that a truly accomplished, successful person must face the question as to whether or not they can be a good parent or role model.
Andy Behrman, Electroboy
Author, Mental Health Advocate, and Speaker Fighting Stigma
Although I'd been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and even though I'd experienced some incredibly severe episodes that seemingly destroyed my life, I somehow still didn't realize the power of the disorder until I heard it through the words of Andy Behrman. I had so much shame regarding my diagnosis as well as the things I'd done in mania, that I really believed that I could never be "normal" or a "good person" again.
I was introduced to Andy and his work by his appearance on The Mental Illness Happy Hour Podcast where he was interviewed by Paul Gilmartin. I was immediately drawn to his story and could identify with so much of what he had to say. I was still new into my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and was really feeling lost in the void in terms of identity. Andy helped me to regain a little of my identity.
In the many incredible experiences Andy recounts about mania and his actions, I saw myself. There's a very strange dichotomy, at least for me, in terms of the intellectual (I should and do know better), and the compulsive drive of mania that takes away all doubt, though it sometimes brings psychotic features and irrational fears. It is so hard for me to look back at the times when I was manic, acting fully out of compulsion, void of intellect. I am not proud of how loud, embarrassingly improper, and downright lewd I was. Under the fuel of the mania however, I could do "no wrong."
Andy has an incredibly frank and honest connection to understanding Bipolar Disorder. He seems to be able to identify actions that belong to him and actions that belong to the disease. His perspective has allowed me to attempt to differentiate between the two and try to let go of the things I did that were driven by the disease.
Not only is Andy's story available through his book and through numerous interviews on Podcasts as well as national media, there is currently a movie in the works. We'll definitely update this post when that becomes available.