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  • Writer's pictureAgustya Hariharan

The north-south divide: Bipolar disorder and the stigma that follows it



We’ve always heard that one metaphor, the one that tells us that there’s always two sides to a person. The good, and the bad. Everyone has their highs and their lows, but what happens when those highs and lows become, well, quite literal? That is bipolar disorder in a nutshell. 


Most people have heard it, but it’s rare for someone to really know what they’re talking about when they speak on bipolar disorder, and for a lot of people, it’s a sensitive subject. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes shifts in a person’s mood, activities, energy, concentration. It changes you as a human being. One day you could be on top of the world, energetic, happy and the next you would be sad, lifeless, stationary. It’s a hard feeling to explain, and you’d only know it if you felt it. Scientists haven’t yet discovered what can cause bipolar disorder, but they have discovered treatments, and contrary to popular belief, people with bipolar disorder can live happy lives. This also holds true for most mental health disorders


As humans, we tend to reject anything that is unlike us in as many ways as possible. This is the leading cause for racism, sexism, discrimination in all counts. If they are not like us, they are the enemy. No matter what we do, to a certain extent, this will always be an existent ideology in the minds of the few. What we need to recognise is that people with mental disorders such as bipolar disorder are just like us, except with a few differences. These people experience suicidal thoughts, insomnia, intense thoughts of sadness, and in most cases, this can be credited to lack of help received. Only 8% of people with bipolar disorder receive help and people can be diagnosed as early as the age of 15. People with bipolar disorder are often mistaken as having two identities but, really, they’re just two sides of the same coin. Heads, tails.


You may have seen people with bipolar disorder online, Two-face, from Batman can be used as an example. Two-face is a great example of the two ends of the spectrum bipolar people may meet and how refusing treatment can lead to dangerous situations. However, Two-face is also a great example of how the behavioural techniques of people with disorders are hyperbolised in Hollywood, which tends to paint them in often bad situations.


Stigma surrounds us everywhere we go, from the streets we walk in, to the schools we attend, to even the houses we live in. It’s vital to know that discrimination, only creates a greater divide between the north and the south of humanity, and acceptance doesn't mean ignorance.


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