Wednesday, July 12, 2006

bipolar girl rules the world, part 2

The original inspiration for the title "bipolar girl rules the world" goes as follows...

Clark Kent transforms into Superman. Peter Parker into Spiderman. What's his name into Batman.

I think the difference between the Dawn that is so debilitated by depression and anxiety that she can’t even get out of bed and take a shower and the Dawn who is out in the world doing good stuff is at least as much of a transformation as any superhero.

So someday, “Bipolar Girl Rules the World” (working title) will be an animated documentary about bipolar disorder. I want the approach to be different, less clinical, more experiential (and experimental) then most of the work on mental illness out there.

I work in a creative field with an amazingly supportive supervisor. My coming out process was critical to my healing (and breaking through my deep, dark, ugly shame), though I know that’s not true, or possible, for everyone. It took ten years for me to be properly diagnosed and by that time, not telling people was not working. I got the support I needed because I was honest about my illness. It was absolultely terrifying to tell the people who needed to know, but I wasn't functioning and needed to be upfront about why. It was an act of desperation, at first. And I was so blessed, so incredibly lucky, at the loving and positive responses I received.

I’m out there about my illness not because I want to be defined by it, but because I want people to understand that it’s a part of me, and because I hope that my lack of shame will help people see the illness differently and that people who share the illness will feel support and connection. That’s how I feel when someone shares their truths, whatever they are. Writers like Anne Lamott, or musician Mary Chapin Carpenter, both speak openly about their struggles with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc. And it helps me be not so crazy, and frankly, to say, well, I think she’s an utterly amazing person, so maybe there is hope for me.

In part, what prompted my openness is a piece I produced for the radio, where I came out about being bipolar. It’s a part of what spurs me creatively and politically– not the illness itself (I’m much more productive creatively when I’m level), but a desire to tell my story and the stories of others who deal with mental illness. The radio piece was call “The Three Furies: Poverty, Addiction and Mental Illness” and it aired about a year ago on WUNC as part of the NC Voices on Poverty series. You can listen to it here.

Anyway, being bipolar girl out in the world isn't always simple or easy, but it has been the right choice for me.


Old Paul said...

Great stuff - I read through it all and I will be a frequent visitor.

Since you have outted yourself on bi-polar don't you think you should mention neurofibromatosis?

Jerry said...

I'm more concerned that you've outed yourself as someone who doesn't know who millionaire Bruce Wayne is. Are you SURE you're an American?

There was a great animated short movie at the latest "Hi, Mom" festival about a guy with ADD. He wasn't a superhero, though.

Susan said...

Good for you!
It's a very brave and good thing to tell your own truth, and I'm proud of you. But I'm with Jerry- girl, as soon as your brother and I haul our sorry selves back to live in NC, we've GOT to take your comicbook illiteracy in hand! Or at least your lack of knowledge of cheesy 70's superhero shows!

Rx4x2 said...

wow Dawn, you're good!
Uncle Joe
See you soon I hope.

Dawn said...

jeez...I'm writing these posts on the fly...I'm lucky to remember my own name, somedays...

But thanks, really, for your concern. And I'll have to find that animated doc on ADD.