Bipolar Disorder


Bipolar Disorder
By Jim Flannery

I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder and involuntarily committed in 2008 after what doctor's would call a psychotic breakdown, but which I think of as a spiritual breakthrough.  Since then, I've had 3 more involuntary hospitalizations and my diagnosis has sometimes been adjusted to schizoaffective disorder, depending on the doctor evaluating me, the city I'm in, and the weather at the time. 

While I always loved standup comedy growing up, I made a conscious decision to start performing in 2013 as a means of somehow creating social change around mental health.  I grew up seeing what black comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle did with comedy to help the black community, and dreamed I could somehow do that for people in the mental health world. 

This particular bit I've attached specifically discusses bipolar disorder, though there is a recurring theme throughout all my comedy of live through the perspective of someone who has been through the system. 

To this day, I still don't fully buy into the medical model... I don't agree with my diagnosis... I don't subscribe to the idea that I have a permanent, genetic defect that will plague me my entire life... yet I also am not 100% sure of my sanity.  This self-doubt is a recurring theme in my day-to-day life, especially when it comes to speaking out about my experiences. 

Am I causing harm to my potential career opportunities, friendships, relationships, being open about my experiences?  What if it turns out I actually am I crazy person and all this public disclosure about my opposition to the mental system will prove to be somewhat fraudulent?  Am I just in denial?  Am I actually fullfilling the stereotype of the mentally ill artist whose ego is inflated and believes they can change the world only to never perceive the reality that I'm just a crazy person rambling into a microphone for small audiences who are laughing at me rather than with me? 

I am not really sure what the reality is.  Yet I also know that I wouldn't do things any other way.  I am becoming more and more comfortable speaking out, and hope that I continue to do so till I die.


Watch Jim's comedy bit on bipolar disorder here:
[Warning: potentially NSFW, mature language]


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