STIGMAMA (10)

Tomorrow! #StigmamaBirthday

In one year, we have had over 70 contributors, gained over 16,000 Likes on Facebook, been recognized as a leading health blog, and featured on American College of Nurse Midwives Blog, Maternally Yours Radio, and WEGO HaChat. STIGMAMA is the fastest growing blog for mothers of all ages to write about motherhood, mental illness, and stigma.

Tomorrow is going to be a blast! We have a full day celebration including:

Stigmama Founder, Walker Karraa will be on FB and Twitter to chat all day!

Facebook  Post on our page and chat with Stigmama Contributors.

Twitter: @Stigmama1  Use #StigmamaBirthday to follow tweets.

Blog Hop: Grab your linky and blog on your site about what STIGMAMA means to you! http://goo.gl/EVgl3M

YouTube — Check out our STIGMAMA YouTube Channel. Post a video, and watch the amazing one year Stigmama Birthday compilation clip!

 

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Essay on Fiction: Back to the Beginning, Tempest Rose

“I don’t appreciate your bipolar-psycho bitch attitude!”

The words rattle around in my head like a bad hangover. I stop. I need to go back to the beginning.

It’s not a well-written play, but I hang on every word. I need to find where it went wrong. I need to go back to the beginning.

I shouldn’t be telling you this, but it needs to be said.

I’m a staffer on a literary magazine. I won’t tell you which one, because I shouldn’t be telling you this.

As a literary magazine, we receive hundreds of submissions. Part of my job is to read through them all and vote as to whether we will publish them or not.

This one catches my attention.

I go back to the beginning. The scene is set, the characters explained. It’s not a well-written play, which can be decided upon during the character introductions. The author tells us things we would have no way of knowing from simply viewing the characters. Plays are difficult to write in that way. I would have sympathy, but we’re a well-known literary magazine, so I don’t. I have to be cross sometimes. I’m good at it.

I know from the beginning that we’re not going to publish this piece. Maybe if it were a short story instead of a play, maybe it might have a chance. Probably not. But I read through the whole thing anyway. I like to see exactly what the writers do wrong, and what they do right. But something else pulls me toward this piece. Something in the second character introduction.

First is a man. A writer. He’s pale and common, nothing spectacular.

Then there is a woman. His editor. At first she seems common as well. But then . . .

She is highly energetic, and is ALWAYS happy to the point where it is abnormal. This woman suffers from bi-polar disorder, and possibly other mental problems.

I’m hooked.

I know from experience that people who write “bi-polar” instead of “bipolar” typically are not too familiar with the disorder. This is not always the case, but is a generalization I can usually rely on.

I go back to the beginning. Something strikes me, like a match against the box. Flames stir. Abnormal.

I don’t know whether to be mad or not. Mental disorders are abnormal, and the behaviors caused by them definitely are. I initially take offense, but then stop and think. Breathe. Abnormal. Okay.

I’m rubbed the wrong way but I give it a chance. There’s no way to tell which direction this play will be taking, yet.

I give the writer credit for stating that the woman suffers. It would have been so easy to simply state “has” or “was diagnosed with” or “is”. Suffers. That’s what we do.

At this point I have no idea if the writer has any experience with the disorder. Or any disorders. I’m, based on nothing, assuming that they don’t. Suffers implies that a little research was done; understanding was attempted.

Or maybe they just lucked out with the proper word choice. I like to think the former, though.

Now, in a play, there’s no way to know that this woman has Bipolar Disorder unless it comes out in dialogue. So there’s a common mistake in inexperienced playwriting — telling us something that cannot be known. This is one of the reasons I know this piece will not be published. But I keep reading.

I get through the setting and the introduction. I skim. I’ve already made my decision, but I’m interested in the woman, so I keep a keen eye to her name. I find it.

The first thing she says is described as “cheery”. Every sentence is ended with an exclamation mark. After she “cheerily says,” she “shouts enthusiastically”. There are more exclamation marks. More shouting. The other character is “uncomfortable” with her attitude.

Suddenly, things turn. The word “cold” is used in various forms.

Then they turn back. She “sighs, then grins”. She “smiles”. Then she’s “frustrated”. She continues to shout (as noted by the overuse of exclamation marks).

And then,

“the happiest woman in the world suddenly becomes enraged with anger.”

There is more shouting. Then “happy giggles”.

At the end, the man “mimics her happy voice” and she “storms off stage”.

So, I went back to the beginning. But still . . .

“I don’t appreciate your bipolar-psycho bitch attitude!”

rings in my ears, like I’ve been punched in the side of the head. The entire play, for that matter, makes my skin crawl and my eyes bulge. It makes my heart thump-thump-thump and my mind spin.

It has been a long time since I’ve been exposed to something so stereotypical. So stigmatizing.

Bipolar does not have one face. It is not psycho. It is not a bitch.

(Well, it is, but to us. Not to you.)

It is a real disorder plaguing millions of people. The writer got one thing right. We suffer with this illness. We are not happy all the time. We are not depressed all the time, or angry all the time. Our emotions do not bounce around like ping-pong balls.

Only sometimes, we are and they do. And it is miserable.

The writer got one extremely huge thing wrong. The writer did not research. The writer spilled themselves onto the page based on hearsay and limited information.

Fiction can be a bitch to write. Everyone writes differently, but there is one rule. Know your subject matter. You have no idea the damage that can be done with false information.

The writer needs to go back to the beginning. This needs to be said.

_________

Tempest Rose has a story to tell, knowledge to share, and opinions to be voiced. She feels like she doesn’t belong and she wants to make a difference. She is dedicated to spreading truth, awakening minds, and changing the world. She recently started her journey in mental health treatment, and also writes about an array of topics such as gender, addiction, abortion, and pretty much anything that’s controversial. She can be funny, too . . . sometimes. To read more of her work, visit her personal blog, Nonsense & Shenanigans. She also is a contributor for Bipolar Parenting Project (and Stigmama!).

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Things that are fiction, Phoenix

The day she was born

Names

His love

Her independence

Our identities

Their truth

Our freedom

The way he looks at her

The way she strokes his hair

Thanksgiving

Boundaries

The words they speak

The ones they avoid

 …The whispers of mental illness

———–

Phoenix is a wordsmith and artist who practices behind locked doors surrounded by her favorite pillow, blanket, and caffeinated beverage. With several experiences and interesting neurochemistry, her own constitution is one of many ongoing projects (like laundry). She has aspirations to continue to remain incomplete and ever-evolving. Phoenix would like to thank her husband and her best friends JP, TL, and AH for helping her find herself yet again.