Reader Says Bipolar Is a Myth

Manic satyrs in mythology
GuilaneNachez / Morguefile

Nearly two years ago, now, a reader named Beidoj left this comment on the blog What Is Dysphoric Mania? A lot of you replied to this blog already, but enough time has passed that I think it's worthwhile to give newer readers - or those who missed this at the time - a chance to react. Beidoj said:

Bipolar is a myth! Every symptom of Bipolar is a natural human trait which has simply been blown out of proportion to what society believes is normal. Every human being has the potential to be labelled with Bipolar and many are being labelled with it just because they don't conform to the "norm."
Mental illness is more often than not caused by trauma (both physical and mental) or actual brain damage. Bipolar is not a mental illness, it is a label given to people who find it hard to cope with themselves, need attention and are who want to be cared for and controlled by medication. People are just individuals trying to belong in a sociological system controlled by conformist who want us all not to buck their system.
I suffered many years of being diagnosed with everything from schizophrenia to personality disorders to bipolar. I was treated like a sub-human until I broke away from being analysed.

The point I am trying to make here is that some people just want to be individuals and find it hard to cement their worth on this planet. Some of them unfortunately chose to do it by destroying other peoples lives. This guy [James Holmes, who killed and injured a total of 70 people at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises"] just wanted to leave his mark on the world, and what a way to do it! Look at all the interest being invested in him. The insanity defence is a crock - he knew exactly what he was doing!
By the way, bipolar people, stop crying out for attention, don't you know that mood stabilisers will destroy your soul? The funny thing about them is they will make anyone's mood stable, bipolar or not! And the side effects are so damaging to you physically - check your thyroid function, liver function, the majority of you will have issues if you don't already ... stop poisoning yourselves. Learn to live with yourselves they way you are or you could end up having your own psychotic episode and taking it out on innocent people too. I DO NOT CONDONE THIS MAN'S ACTIONS, ALTHOUGH I UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY DO!

So there it is - the kind of thinking that promotes the stigma we deal with. I know most of you were angry before you even finished reading Beidoj's diatribe. Mental illness a myth? Considering that records of bipolar disorder go back to the time of mythology - between 100 and 200 A.D. - that there is clear evidence that it can be inherited, and that it responds to treatment - plus a number of other factors, I think we can discard the "myth" idea.

I don't even have to present a counter to the idea that we're all craving attention. The best attention I've ever gotten was when I was stable to slightly hypomanic and able to act on stage ... something I can't do when I'm depressed, because I don't have the confidence even to audition. How can anyone think I'd rather have attention by being sunk in depression than by getting applause?

I'm sick to death of having people with bipolar disorder being told it's all in your head. Do you pretend to be psychotic to get attention? Do you enjoy bankrupting yourself by spending recklessly? Does losing your job because you can't focus, can't get out of bed, crumble under pressure, make you feel better because of the attention it gets you?

No. No. No.