An Invisible Disability

Sejal A. Shah has posted an interesting personal essay on bipolar disorder in the Kenyon Review Online. While I haven’t experienced the degree of illness described by the author, I’ve had enough of my own mental health challenges in the past decade to recognized many of conditions she describes:

  • The exhilaration of mania — There was something frightening in the chaos, beautiful and disturbing. The outlines, “POW!” as though a comic book, a superhero. I did, for a time, feel powerful before crashing. It’s a seductive power, and avoiding this emotional drug comes only from discipline and the experience of repeated failures.
  • Becoming a target for predators at your most vulnerable moments — when they sense you are unsteady, ill-equipped, unable to fight back.
  • The unrelenting pressure to hide the disorder — Disclosures of cancer elicit sympathy, gifts of casseroles, rides to the hospital, or other support. Disclose a mental illness and observe the response. Our culture finds mental illness distasteful, unfortunate, a moral failing.

I’m still searching to find my own voice in the public discussion about mental illness. I respect those who are already speaking out.

One thought on “An Invisible Disability

  1. Dear Keith,
    I have been following your blog post because I chose to do so. I have noticed at times the (as you mention in the blog above) frenetic borderline manic brilliance of some of your writing but this to me is a great journey. if you yourself know about the mental mind swing or ? disorder this is great. Personally, I am grateful to be a blogger from the other side of the world who simply likes to read (when I am able) the posts and are appreciative of the literary excellence of some of them. (Literary excellence is not one of the gifts of my life.). Keep blogging, Keith, Be yourself who knows what incredible inspiration may be yours in the future. Cheers!

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