“I’m not crazy.”
“I am NOT crazy.”
“I’m not crazy, I think.”
“Maybe I am crazy.”
I have said all of these words and maybe more to avoid accepting the fact that at the age of 24 I was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder. At that time I was recently married, the mother of young sons, a recent college graduate looking to go into law school as well as a small business owner. That meant I couldn’t be crazy because in the Black community, being mentally ill automatically gets you blacklisted.
I can’t believe that I made it 35 years without a single incident with the police that could possibly affect me for the rest of my life. But there I was, on my mother’s birthday, sitting in jail for an alcohol-induced physical altercation with my boyfriend. I knew I crossed the line and had allowed my mood swings to get the best of me. I ruined the romantic weekend that he planned for us by harping on something that happened almost a year ago. I was in a tailspin because of the stressful weekend that I had dealing with both my sons and my business (emotions were high, finances were low). I was a mental wreck and I knew it. He hoped that going away for the weekend would allow me to calm down and gather my thoughts — but I just couldn’t. My mind was a mess. Every little thing set me off and I didn’t want to play fair, so I drank the restaurant’s three-drink limit and everything I had been feeling came out verbally and physically.
I had completely lost control of my life.
So I suffered … alone. Making life threatening decisions because I couldn’t get help… everyone would think I was crazy. But I was suffering in silence because I refused to let anyone know that I was locked inside of my brain. So I thought, maybe I am crazy. Or maybe I’m just a monster because my father wasn’t around and I left my mother’s home at 15. Maybe I am a rebel because I didn’t like authority. I wanted to accept anything but crazy.
Blacks who suffer from Bipolar Disorder suffer in silence. Some for life while others painfully because their families and friends don’t seek ways to help them cope. They talk about them behind their backs or tell them they are not praying hard enough. Some may even say,…