I’m Not Offended by my Bipolar Jokes. You Shouldn’t be Either.


A post about real personal things calls for an unstaged picture. The “real” Anna.

My favorite one liner is “You know North Carolina, the weather is more bipolar than I am.”

I think it’s funny, it makes fun of both myself and my favorite place on earth. I said it while walking across campus last year with a friend and I had some random guy stop me. He told me I shouldn’t say that because it’s insensitive and offensive. I calmly explained to him that I was bipolar and I didn’t really think it was insensitive or offensive at all.

Have you ever had someone lecture you on why you should be personally offended by your own joke? It was really strange and it has happened to me more than once while at Guilford college. The strange part was that the people who were offended by me tossing the word around were never bipolar, nor were the people they were close too. They had just learned it was offensive and were trying to protect whoever it might offend.

The only problem was that I wasn’t offended. I thought it was funny and I’m going to explain why I think it’s okay to use the word bipolar when not talking about the disorder.

We’re told not to do it because it takes away from the seriousness of the word. It lightens the topic of mental illness. As someone who has the illness, I like talking about it lightly, I like normalizing it, it makes me feel more… normal. I’ll tell just about anyone I have it and explain why it’s both a gift and a curse. I like talking about it, and I like laughing at it too, because if you can’t laugh at the hard stuff in life then how are you supposed to respond? Tears? It’s healthy for me to joke about the disorder, it’s a coping mechanism for starters, but it also gets me more comfortable with talking about the fact that I’m bipolar.

When I’m really struggling with the disorder I know I can explain what is going on and why it’s so hard. I’ve found that no matter how much I joke about the weather people still take me seriously when I’m being serious. As human beings we can sense the difference, I’ve never been around someone who couldn’t. The confessions and jokes all have context to them. Nobody is walking into a room going “I’m bipolar” then not saying anything else. That’s the only situation I can come up with where I might get the wrong response when being serious about my disorder.

Being bipolar is a lot to deal with, so I might as well laugh about it when I can.

As for you, a reader without the disorder, I want to tell you that it won’t offend me if you laugh about it too. Why would I be able to do something that you couldn’t? If your not making jokes at someones personal expense then I have no problem with you doing it to my disorders expense. It deserves to be made fun of, it’s a bitch.

14 thoughts on “I’m Not Offended by my Bipolar Jokes. You Shouldn’t be Either.

  1. Autumn Whewell says:

    I love that you’re talking about this publicly. I have learned to hide this secret of mine, even my friends who know I struggle with the disorder will crack jokes talking about people “omg they’re crazy, they’re bipolar”. It’s hurtful. I enjoy your jokes about the weather, I might have to come up with a few. Thank you 🙂 Autumn

    Liked by 1 person

    • annadownsouth says:

      Don’t be ashamed about it! It took me a while to get comfortable with it, I was diagnosed at six, but it’s good to be open about it. As for the jokes, it’s always good to have a few up your sleeve. Luckily when I’m faced with bipolar comments they are normally people calling themselves bipolar or cracking about the weather so they have not been hurtful. I think the best way to end the crazy stigma is for more bipolar people who clearly aren’t crazy to be open about their disorder! Of course that takes time and sometimes a lot of guts. I wish you a lot of luck and love!

      Liked by 1 person

      • annadownsouth says:

        It is interesting. In some ways I think it’s great that everyone is more sensitive to mental illnesses which is great because it brings a lot of awareness, but I also think not being able to causally talk and joke about something makes it harder to understand and normalize.

        Liked by 1 person

      • live_a_life_less_ordinary says:

        Yes. Good point. I think there is a lot more awareness of mental illness these days. Sometimes I wonder why it seems so much more prevalent than it was, say, a generation ago, when I was dealing with a lot of stuff in my childhood, but most likely a lot of stuff in the past just went undiagnosed. As a kid, I always felt such a stigma about being different. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually figure out what’s wrong with me…

        Liked by 1 person

      • annadownsouth says:

        Mine was a pretty big deal when I was little so I got diagnosed at six, which is insanely young for bipolar, less that 1% get diagnosed before eight. My childhood would have been very different if I hadn’t gotten medicated. Sometimes I think we can get a little carried away with diagnoses, like ADHD has statistics saying that it has been a little over diagnosed in children, but if something is interfering in a childs life I think it’s great that we’re working towards trying to help it, sadly that stigma of being different isn’t really gone for children, no matter how common their illness becomes.


  2. Songlines Pilgrim says:

    I’m glad to have found your post and your blog. I have some people in my life – very near and dear to me – who also struggle with mental illness, and I appreciate your candor and good humor in discussing it.

    It’s important to respect other people and treat them well; at the same time, as a society, we need to be more comfortable talking about this stuff and not rushing to stigmatize it, either in ourselves or in others. Laughter (so long as it’s not at others’ expense) can definitely help us to not take ourselves and our problems quite so seriously.

    Also, I love your statement: “Being bipolar is a lot to deal with, so I might as well laugh about it when I can.” Amen to that, and best of luck to you on your continuing journey. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • annadownsouth says:

      Thank you so much for this comment! I hope your loved ones are doing well. I’m glad you agree with this post, when I first posted it I was unsure what response I would get! So I’m glad it has been positive. Cheers to you as well friend!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s