Sooooooo, my friends, I usually just post once a week, but I can’t help posting once more.
I’ve gotten into a relatively new habit of checking out the Word Press Freshly Pressed selections.
On Thursday I spotted this post in the line-up:
While I was genuinely glad that the topic of bipolar disorder attracted the attention of the WordPress editorial staff, I was also disappointed.
Because, because, because, because…(and I know some of you will disagree with me on this point, but I still love you!)
I can’t stomach calling bipolar disorder a gift. My Dad had bipolar disorder, and he didn’t think it was a gift either!
I guess when it comes to mental illness, my attitude of non-gratitude runs in the family!
(And I wonder why Oprah won’t return my phone calls about being interviewed on her
“Super Soul Sunday” show!!!)
I’ve read numerous bipolar-themed memoirs and articles over the past decade. I observed in those works that a sizable portion of the writers who felt their bipolar disorder to be a gift didn’t have children. I couldn’t help but notice that the author of the Freshly Pressed blog piece doesn’t have children. I feel that if asked, most children who have been adversely affected by their parent’s bipolar disorder would not consider the mental illness as a gift.
Other people who consider their bipolar disorder to be a gift are profoundly helped by their belief. Some of these “others” are my friends or acquaintances who I admire very much. Please – I don’t mean to offend you. We can agree to disagree on this matter. I won’t write about it much more; as you can see, I’m getting it out of my system today. To tell you the truth, I feel like a shit for not thinking the same way as you/them.
But back to the Freshly Pressed blog post! I skimmed the “Bipolar as Unexpected Gift” post’s comments so far, and I didn’t recognize a single soul from my beloved bipolar blogging community. I was surprised about that! I wanted to see what y’all thought. I also noticed that not a single person to date has written to voice any disagreement with the premise that bipolar is a gift. That gave me pause; I’ll write more about that later.
Take a look at the Freshly Pressed post.
What do you think?
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Here’s a looong p.s.
At first I felt so bummed out about the Freshly Pressed choice that I decided to write a letter to WordPress voicing my opinion. I contacted the WordPress help forum to ask where I should send my email, and I wrote,
“To be honest, I was on the fence about even contacting WordPress, and I still am a bit hesitant. 🙂 However, I feel compelled to speak up in the hopes that I will be heard.”
The longtime WordPress volunteer, with whom I had positive, friendly correspondence in the past, surprised me with her caustic reply.
She wrote, “Understood but do be prepared to note that some think mental illness is a gift and some think it is a curse.”
Really??? I’d never thunka that before! I thought.
Her curt, patronizing reply made me think that maybe the WordPress folks, as much as I love WordPress, might not get where I was coming from. Meanwhile the uber-paranoid part of me feared they’d shut down my WordPress “dissenter” account! I’d have to, gasp, go to the inferior Blogger!
I decided not to send it the “Happiness Engineer” after all. I felt that my complaint sounded too much like sour grapes (well, I admit maybe I was just a bit envious, okay, okay!) and it ultimately my email wouldn’t make a difference. Here are some excerpts from my email:
I appreciate your finding the topic of bipolar disorder a worthy Freshly Pressed selection! As a blogger with bipolar disorder, I was excited to spot the word “bipolar” in Freshly Pressed. However, the complete title “Bipolar as Unexpected Gift” made my heart sink.
Over the past few years there has been a media trend to sugarcoat bipolar disorder. This was most recently displayed in the Huffington Post article “The Six Gifts of Mental Illness” and in numerous other articles.
I follow bipolar disorder in the media very closely. I’m a longtime volunteer for the International Bipolar Foundation, a member of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders, and my WordPress blog was nominated for a WEGO Health “Best in Show Blog”. I’m a mental health advocate with a focus upon mothers who have bipolar disorder. My father had bipolar disorder as well.
Recently I did an informal study of responses to two articles about bipolar disorder being considered a gift. I noted that roughly 50% of those replies disagreed with that concept.
While I’m genuinely glad that the Freshly Pressed blogger has found bipolar to be a gift in his life, I feel his point of view places pressure on those WordPress bloggers who have mental illness and haven’t found it to be a gift. (And I’m one of them, obviously! : ) When I see Freshly Pressed titles equating bipolar as a gift, whether it’s expected or unexpected, I feel that it minimizes my condition. Due to the total lack of any critical comments about his post so far, and the low statistics compared to other Freshly Pressed selections, I suspect that many people chose not to read his post after spotting the title.
I love WordPress, and I was hesitant to contact you, but this is a topic that’s very close to my heart. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your reading this, and I hope you’ll understand where I’m coming from. There is an incredible array of WordPress bloggers with bipolar disorder. For future Freshly Pressed choices I encourage you to check out Blahpolar Diaries, Kitt O’Malley, Stigmama, Bipolar1Blog, The Lithium Chronicles, and The Bipolar Mama. I’m leaving out other ones I love, but that’s a great start! Thank you once again for your time.
take care and all my best,