13 Reasons Why Season 2: Reaction Post

On “The Mighty”, I got quite a few comments against many points that I made on my “13 Reasons Why” Season 2: What it Got Wrong post. While I cannot address all of them, I will address the part of comments that really concerned me regarding bipolar disorder… because it was not my intention at all to appear as if I thought that all people with bipolar disorder are the same.

When I said that the character Skye did not appear manic, that did not mean that I think all bipolar people are the same. It meant that she did not appear to be exhibiting DSM-5 symptoms of mania in the show, such as in the scene she was referring to as being ‘manic’.

 

“Your point on bipolar is insane. Mania looks different on different people. And your opinion is wrong and inappropriate.”

“how do you know exactly? I mean honestly you don’t. Are you bipolar? If so then you should know better than anyone that no two people are the same and while there is a definition of ‘bipolar disorder’ it is not the same for everyone. If you’re not bipolar then you need to realize what I just said and see that no two people are the same”

 

The thing is… I have read about bipolar disorder SO MUCH.

I have written about it for the past 3 years.

I have studied it academically, taken multiple college classes on mental illnesses, and even earned a psychology degree.

I have lived it myself and I have seen others going through episodes.

I have read publications and textbooks and autobiographies and biographies and blogs.

I feel like I know bipolar disorder pretty well. I certainly don’t think that any two people with the diagnosis are the same.

 

Comment excerpt: ‘She doesn’t seem manic to me’ is just you thinking that everyone with each mental illness is the exact same. I think, maybe, you should read more about each illness and learn a thing or two before making assumptions about the subject.

 

My response to this comment:

Thank you for sharing! What I meant by “she doesn’t seem manic to me” is that she did not appear to depict DSM-5 criteria for a full-blown manic episode, such as grandiosity, pressured speech, psychomotor agitation, increase in goal-directed activity & so on…

I definitely agree that everyone experiences mental illness in a different way, even if they have the same diagnosis (in this case bipolar disorder). For example, Kay Jamison (“An Unquiet Mind”), Marya Hornbacher (“Madness: A Bipolar Life”), and Ellen Forney (“Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me”) have all written about their own mania, but their experiences were completely different from one another. For instance, during a manic episode, Jamison had terrifying visual hallucinations while Forney had a euphoric experience. Biographies such as “This Fragile Life” and “Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire” are even more examples of people who experienced mania in ways that do not appear similar. Mania can take on many characteristics/features, from euphoria to irritability to psychotic features. Comorbidities can make the picture even more complicated. Clearly, mania can appear different person to person… or even for the same person over the course of their episode or illness.

When Clay asked Skye if she was sure she had bipolar disorder, she used the dinner groping situation as proof that she was indeed manic (which might be aiming at hypersexuality feature?)… if she had added other features- such as she had racing thoughts, abnormally fast speech, or excessive energy despite little sleep- I feel like that would have been a better explanation or fuller representation of mania. As is, I felt that it was incomplete at best.

I have listed various books on bipolar disorder within this comment that I have read over the past few years (“An Unquiet Mind” was recommended to me when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar 1- It’s one that I would suggest to anyone!), so I can say that I have learned “a thing or two” about the condition. However, if you have any recommendations for additional material/publications/books on the condition so that I can “read more”, I would love to hear them!

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