Remember when you were in school? Was it a positive or negative experience for you? I hope it was a positive one. Do you still remember your favorite teacher? Why? Because they had some special quality that you admired? Because they made a boring class fun? Because you learned so much from them? These or any number of answers could be the reason why you still remember your favorite teacher.
But I want you to think of being a teacher in a different way today. I want you to think of yourself as a teacher. You are, you know. If you have bipolar disorder or are supporting someone
who does, you are teaching every time you go out the door of your home. You teach others what it is like to be someone with a mental illness or to support someone who does. There is an expression: “You teach people how to treat you.”
If you have bipolar disorder and are stable, you will act a certain way. In fact, I know someone who has the disorder, but if you didn’t know better, you’d never know it. That’s stable behavior.
And if you can be like that, you teach people that people that have bipolar disorder can be just as “normal” as they are. You teach them that adversity can be overcome. You teach them that bipolar disorder is NOT a death sentence! You teach them that someone with the disorder can be high functioning. If you have started your own home business, you teach your clients/customers that you are a good business person (in spite of having bipolar disorder).
If you are a supporter, you can teach other supporters. Just by virtue of the fact that you don’t complain about your situation, makes you a good supporter example. You teach them that bipolar disorder can be lived with on a daily basis. You teach them that the disorder doesn’t have to rule your life. You teach them that being a good supporter is possible. You may even teach them some of your methods or strategies for dealing with it.
But in either case, whether you are someone with bipolar disorder or supporting someone who does, you are being a teacher – Because you are teaching them what bipolar disorder looks
like. You are putting a face on the disorder, in other words. And people need to see that to truly understand the disorder. Now, that can be good or bad, depending how you look at it.
If you have it and are stable, you teach people that someone with bipolar disorder can act normally. If you have it but aren’t stable, you paint a different picture. You teach them that it’s a struggle to be stable. Your bipolar behavior may make you stand out. And you may be the only person they know with bipolar disorder, so they will judge all other people with the disorder
by you and your behavior.
Stigma is a horrible thing, and has hurt many people with bipolar disorder. But if you can keep your bipolar behavior positive, you can teach people that you can cope with having it. That anyone can.
Well, I have to go!