Last night, I had a nightmare that I danced like a white man. This was way worse than my recurring dream where I’m married to Sarah Palin. Naturally, it was a huge relief to wake up and - oh crap! - well, at least I’m bipolar.
Most of you know what I’m talking about. We have a different way of perceiving reality, which of course affects our behavior. Too often, the result is outsider status. No one wants that. On the other hand, I bet no one ever told you this: “You’ll really love So-and-So! He’s so normal!”
Funny thing about our doctors. They may inform us that they will have us back to normal in no time, but they never actually say, “We’ll have you normal again.”
“Normal” is a reference to the status quo, how things are going “out there.” This is the world we need to learn to function in. But we don’t necessarily have to be “normal” to function in “normal.” This is hardly a condition we would aspire to. I always sort of knew this, but the light bulb went off last year when I read Nassir Ghaemi’s 2011 “A First-Rate Madness.” Dr Ghaemi pointed out that normal merely represents a statistical average and hardly an ideal.
How about crazy, then? I love that 1997 Apple ad. “Here’s to the crazy ones,” it starts out. "The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.”
We see short clips of Einstein, Edison, Amelia Earhart, and others. These are “the ones who see things differently. ... They change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
I keep coming back to crazy vs normal again and again. What prompted today’s piece is a comment from Liz in response to my recent repost on Darwin and evolutionary psychiatry:
I have been struggling for a long time to try and figure out how it is that bipolar disorder was somehow an evolutionary advantage. This comment of yours really hit home and brought tears to my eyes:
"I like to contend that it took a crazy person to run into a burning forest and enthusiastically bring a flaming souvenir back to the cave."
I know that as a bipolar person I am able to experience a different reality and range of emotions than people who have chemically "balanced" brains. It's helpful to hear an anecdote about how this difference in reality perception can actually make being bipolar useful rather than a burden.
Liz, I hear you. We are a minority surrounded by the chronically normal. It’s not easy living in a world where everyone dances like a white man. The only thing worse is actually dancing like a white man.
Further reading from mcmanweb
Normal - Highly Over-Rated
You See Four; I See 28