I am afraid people misconstrue the whole mania thing. I googled the words mania together with genius. I got 266,000 hits. 79,000 for mania and creativity. I only got 23 hits for the words genius and chronic sinus infection. I see a weird pattern here.

Why is it that being bipolar is so associated with creative genius? There are lists of all the tortured creative types with bipolar disorder (those with documented bipolar and those that are just inferred to have had it based on their lives, being dead and all). What is it about the disorder that intrigues folks so? 266,000 is a lot of hits. I think it comes down to mania. More so, a misunderstanding of mania


I met a man with narcolepsy. A hugely misunderstood disease. Many people think narcoleptics are just sleepier than most. That is not even an understatement. That is a total lack of knowledge.

The fact is, narcoleptics sometimes can not control wakefulness and they are not falling asleep like you and I. They are going from wake to dreaming and it can happen when they are standing up and talking. Some do it when they are at work, some when they are laying around watching the tube, and the truth is, some do it during any period of high emotion as well ( Think huge argument with a spouse. Think traumatic event. Think during a hearty laugh or good cry. Think mid-sex act).

The man I met was quite severe. He told me that every year on Thanksgiving, he fell asleep in his plate of turkey. I asked what his family would do. He said they would continue to eat; heíd wake up eventually. My mistake was making a joke about that while he was standing. I saw his eye start to sag, than his lip, and than his shoulder. The next thing I knew I was bolting across the room to catch him before he fell.


Narcolepsy is a serious medical issue for many. One that is life long, but for most, can be managed with drugs. I have heard a few people with insomnia go on and on about how, ďIf I couldíve just had narcolepsy, insteadĒ. I didnít tell them about the Thanksgiving guy because generally people are more interested in their own beliefs, than in facts. I knew that they were only seeing a tiny part of narcolepsy, the part that appealed to them.

I think the same is true for bipolar disorder. People see about it what intrigues them. There are many lists available of famous people with bipolar disorder. Some people will read the accomplishments and think, ďif onlyď. Havenít they noticed the number of suicides and broken lives among those geniuses? Would they be so willing to take the bipolar-glitz if they had to take the bipolar-shmutz as well?

Some people would, I fear. There are many ways to get from point A to point B. You can walk. You can take a bus. You can ride a bike. Uncontrolled mania is a lot like getting from point A to point B by riding a bullet. To some people riding a bullet sounds easier, faster, and more fun than taking a bus. It certainly sounds more exciting--and dangerous. Truth is, I know quite a lot of bipolar folks who would pick riding the bullet too, even though they know better. Mania may be as uncontrollable as riding a bullet, but itís very seductive.


I do appreciate the ease with which I can do some things that I might otherwise find difficult (The glitz). Iím sure my narcoleptic friend doesnít even understand the concept of insomnia and is probably grateful for it. Over the years I have also come to accept the schmutz because acceptance is about moving ahead with your life. Obviously my narcoleptic friend and his family are at peace with his diagnosis, as well --Face full of turkey and mashed Ďtaters every year, and all.

Does being at peace with your diagnosis mean you relish everything about it? No. Should you feel guilty if you enjoy any perks? No. Would I trade it all to not be bipolar? Hard question. It is so much enmeshed in what I am now, I would miss it. Would my narcoleptic friend give it away? Itís a hard call. I donít know. In either of our cases, itís a moot point. We are what we are and the most we can do is grab it all and move on.





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