I’ve seen your bumper sticker, and it’s not awesome.
I want to crush this particular silver Honda that I see driving around the Clintonville section of Columbus. I’ve been behind it at the light at Henderson and High, and I had to fight the urge to rev up my Volvo and give them a good smack in the ass. The other day I chanced to park next to them at the Krogers. To make a long story short, they’re lucky I was in more of a depressive mood than an impulsive mood. Otherwise, I would’ve keyed a penis into the trunk of their car. First of all, this would have fulfilled a lifelong dream to draw a penis on something; I feel I’ve missed out on something by never having done that. Second of all, they had this bumper sticker:
WTF?!? I’m so glad you find the disease that’s repeatedly derailed my life so effin’ amusing. Now, before you go and accuse me of having no sense of humor, trust in the fact that I find myself very amusing. Hell, I used to do improve: Yes… And take a look at these other great disease-related bumper sticker ideas I’ve come up with on the fly:
- Diabetes is sweet.
- Hypertension makes my blood boil.
- It grows on you.
- Amputation makes me hopping mad.
- I don’t see what’s the big deal is with glaucoma.
There. Call Cafepress.com: I have five good pieces of merch they can sell alongside the 49 different versions of “I hate being bipolar/it’s awesome.” You can wear it, drink out of it, mouse on it, and, of course, slap it on your car’s ass. I wider Google search brings up 6,100 hits for the bumper sticker and 53,300 for the t-shirt.
I get it; you find an inherently humorous juxtaposition in the bipolar. One minute crying, next minute laughing, next minute crying again. Those people must cycle through all two available emotions thirty-seven or thirty-eight times a day.
As someone who’s Bipolar II, the version where the depressive aspect is dominant, I can spend a significant amount of time in the down phase. Weeks and months can go by before the swing happens, and I’m free to get my rocks off with some nice old-fashioned impulsive behavior. Then I get to spend some time spending cash like it’s just those little chocolate Hanukkah coins, or drinking ALL the vodka, or redecorating, or moving. The real fun in both phases comes with the tiny little homunculus on the hamster wheel in my brain saying, “You know this isn’t real, right?”
“Well then… What is real?” I scream back.
“Beats me. I’m just an metaphorical homunculus on a hamster wheel.”
I could put all that on a t-shirt, but one of the fundamental rules of t-shirt design is the reader shouldn’t have to stop you in order to read the shirt.
No diseases, especially psychiatric ones, fit neatly on a sticker. There is nothing funny about humor based upon mental illness.
Except when I do it.
When I do it, it’s fucking hilarious. To wit:
This is my Halloween costume from 2008 or 2009. Normally, I don’t play dress up for Halloween. Just not my thing. But this was for a friend’s party, and he lived six blocks away. I went as a mental patient driven mad by the conflicting messages on homosexuality sent by the church. That’s self-induced stigmata on my hands and –you can’t see it –but my arms are covered with scratched-in Leviticus quotes. Just like t-shirts, Halloween costumes shouldn’t require much explanation, yet I spent the whole night explaining the concept. Still, I thought I looked creepy and funny.
Best part of the party was when I silly tweaked-out twink in a rented (and fancy) matador costume ran into me and got fake blood all over the white of his costume. “This costume was three hundred dollars to rent!” he shrieked
“Then you’re the one who’s mad. MAD! Ah-ha-ha!”
He backed away. My work was done.
But I look at the costume now, and all I feel is a goodly amount of shame. Really? The best I could come up with was something that only adds to the stigma of mental illness?
I think what’s changed since then is I’ve started writing a lot about my illness. I think more about it. I am much, much more open about. Being bipolar no longer embarrasses me. The more I talk about, the more stigma I sweep away.
I guess what made me so angry about the bumper sticker was the impotence I felt. I wanted so much to educate the Honda driver about the disease, but ambushing people as they’re finishing their Krogering is not the answer.
Whether I like it or not, I am an ambassador for this disease. We are all ambassadors for our diseases. And with that comes with a certain responsibility.
Still, part of me thinks the costume was fun.
The bumper sticker remains stupid.