In a world where we are increasingly taught some kind of conformity, I find being mad quite liberating. This is the argument I advance in the article I published in Mad in America (https://www.madinamerica.com/2015/04/mad-liberating/), and since then my belief became even stronger.
Yes, being mad has its advantages. Before I became bipolar for the first time, I was labouring in a financial consultancy in Amsterdam, thinking that being happy equalled a good salary at the end of the month, going to the gym at least twice a week, being in the office from nine to five while obviously not enjoying the job I was doing, and conforming in all other aspects of my life. I used to care what people thought of me, how they judged me and whether they were talking behind my back.
Obviously, they talk now more behind my back, and while with my diagnosis I learned that it comes with a label of stigma attached to it, I also discovered some other quite liberating things. I am different, I dare more in life than so called ‘the normal’ and as a result, I believe that maybe I achieved things that otherwise I wouldn’t. My diagnosis kind of pushed me to avoid being defined as just bipolar and since receiving one, I lived in two more countries, learned an additional language (in addition to other 3), got a bursary to do a PhD, became a Doctor of Philosophy and created a family. I also learned to stick with the like-minded people. I am blessed with some really great friends, after a purge of all those from my life who turned out to be judgemental and narrow-minded. My true friends love me as I am, like the fact that I might be slightly eccentric, enjoy that I laugh at my own madness (and laugh together with me), and are there for me at my lowest moments.
No, madness is indeed liberating. Thanks to it I am not judgemental myself (or I hope so) and I created networks and friendships which I wouldn’t probably have if I were totally normal. I talk to gods and see the fairies; I believe in unusual things and am blessed with an imagination which ensures that I am never bored. Place me in a remote village somewhere at the end of the world and I will still have a blast because I am mad.
And most importantly, due to my madness, I laugh a lot. And sometimes I think that all other, ‘the normal’, should try a dose of madness in order to laugh more as well.
How about that as a concluding thought?