Want to hear my story? It seems that some people do. I’ve lately noticed notices for people with bipolar to share essays, art, demographics and videos. It smells like crowdsourcing. Get hundreds of people to make ads for free, the company gets publicity for the contest and then gives token prize money to the ad they like best. On the other hand, it can be good to examine my life and turn it into a product. That’s what writing is about! Here, then, are people seeking that product (and yours).
The “A Day in the Life…” essay contest is sponsored by Astra Zeneca. They’re asking for essays, videos, art, or songs and offering a $1000 prize. I share Philip Dawdy’s scepticism; he says it looks like “soft advertising.”
The Bipolar Testimony Project by Equilibrium is doing a survey on bipolar, and asking for personal testimonies (no payment or contest). They aim to get a snapshot of life with bipolar across the globe. The stories I’ve read so far are not happy ones. I’m not sure what this project may lead to, but what it could be great for is shrinking the mental health monkeysphere.
The Facing Us contest seeks cute YouTube-style videos, film student PSAs, and amateur art. The videos are to raise awareness and the graphics to raise money by selling greeting cards. What does it raise for me, you, all of us? Number one, it raises memories that may help clarify life now.
My story; my story is one of neglect, years of misdiagnosis, severe side effects, family abandonment, financial ruin, discrimination, a suicide attempt, self-medicating due to lack of real treatment, lost relationships, disability, and a pile of dumb things I shouldn’t have bought while manic. Homelessness and hospital wards, struggling to survive.
Then there’s beating addictions (I don’t even smoke ciggies now, yay), finally finding a great pdoc, meds that do help, a housing subsidy for a decent apartment, fun and rewarding volunteer work, more time for writing, and finding someone to love who didn’t run away at the mention of bipolar. I don’t cultivate self-pity and don’t seek it from others; bipolar just is what it is and I accept that now. I’ve learned a lot and value the perspective. This is all good, yes?
Yes and no. Ultimately, my story is one of a malfunctioning brain that reacts to seasonal light, sleep problems, severe stress and sometimes nothing I can identify. I’ve been stable one day with life under control then woke up the next morning suicidal; same with hypomania and mania. Everything I do to manage bipolar only makes the episodes less severe. They still happen; have since I was a kid and will until I die. That’s my real story: hopelessness.
I wonder what contest that would win.