Last night I watched an old “SNL” skit, of Anne Hathaway’s parody of Clare Dane’s character (with bipolar) in tv’s “Homeland”. It was obviously a crude ridiculing of the outward symptoms, but I refused to stop watching as I didn’t want to appear as “hypersensitive PC police.” I realized the skit was from 2012, and was relieved at how archaic and almost out-of-place (yes, even for media) the blatant mockery felt. However, I felt relieved that if this skit aired today, it would seem more inappropriate and there would be more outcry against it. I mean, I remember just a year before the skit aired, I was in a hospital bed for an acute bipolar 1 episode, with access to my laptop, only to receive taunting, bullying, & death wishes via social media regarding my illness via social media. It sucked, but I remember at that moment a few years back, defeatedly thinking that said behavior probably only seemed like harmless internet trolling and fair child’s play to onlookers.
I had “friends” who mysteriously “disappeared” upon learning of my admission, yet I continued to see them openly making fun of bipolar disorder on my facebook feed. I had “frenemies” go to the lengths of tagging me (& my family members) in Amy Winehouse videos with “#looneybin” & seeing people chime in laughing with ignorant encouragement & mob mentality. People taunted me with rumors they fabricated about how I was actually in rehab for drug abuse, just to make their own lives more amusing. Strangers went out of their way to message/email hateful death wishes to me, telling me to “kill myself” and that I “should die”, which is a strange thing to say to someone who is clinically at risk of that in the first place.
My intent here is not mere grievance, but to show the progressive trajectory of my personal experience with stigma – how it’s gone from worst, to bad, to now hopeful. With time, I think we can become more masterful sculptors of our own experiences, and of each others’ experiences. And unfortunately for those who wished wrong upon me, I know that I will prosper & live to see our larger society & media culture follow suit.