Bipolar disorder is no longer a taboo subject. I’ve heard kids in high school talk about it openly. My friend Amanda is in 11th grade, so I asked her what she knew about the illness.
Her answer surprised me.
“We talk about it at school. It’s not in a bad way. That is probably because I hang out with a lot of geeky artist types. We don’t care about someone having a mental illness. All we want to do is help. There is a guy we hang out with we are pretty sure has bipolar. He will talk about it sometimes. I do worry he will try to kill himself. But he seems ok these days. That is the problem. He goes up and down- which does sound like bipolar! You asked me know I know about it. I’ve studied it in psych class and my mom of course told me about you. When I met you, I was surprised that you just came out and said you have bipolar. That helped me when I talked to my friend. You gave me your book. It was easy to read and I talked to him about it. Our whole group talks about bipolar. I honestly don’t think it’s a big deal in our school, but maybe it’s just my own crowd. I would tell your friend to not be ashamed as most people don’t care at all. They are dealing with their own stuff. If they are weird, that is just ignorant. I would tell her to make sure she tells the right people and does it in a regular way. Don’t make a big thing about it. I know it is a big thing, but I mean telling someone doesn’t have to be a big thing. How would I say it? Well, I’m open to stuff like this so my friends would probably already know. I would say, “Hey guys, you may have wondered about my up and down moods. I had no idea what was going on. I got sick and went into the hospital. I now have to take meds and it sucks, but I’m going to do it. I don’t want to go back to the hospital. Do you guys have any questions about bipolar? “ Done! Your true friends will stick around and you will probably make more just because you are so honest."
Thanks Amanda age 17, Jacksonville, Florida.
Julie A. Fast