Imagine that you make your living as a runner. You get paid to run as many laps around a track as you can for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Your legs are so fast that you easily outrun the other runners on the track. This isn't a race, so it doesn’t matter how fast you are relative to everyone else, but at least you notice that you're moving faster than they are, even if they don't notice or care if you do. However, your legs run so fast sometimes that they get out of sync with your optimal stride and you stumble and fall to the ground. But they don’t stop running when you hit the ground, they just keep running faster and faster, causing you to spin around in place for hours at a time. After a few hours of that, your legs slow down and you are able to stand and resume running…at least for a few minutes, then your legs start to slow down because you wore them out while you were laying on the ground being unproductive. So now, here you are, going slower and slower until your legs finally give out and you fall to the ground, but this time, you're down for real. Your legs have stopped moving completely and your boss is starting to wonder where you are. After all, he just saw you making record times for those last few laps, so there's no excuse for this kind of behavior.
Fearing for your job, you force yourself up and start running again, but you're doing it on faulty legs, so you start making mistakes. You may even find yourself running backwards! After some time on these ruined legs, you start to feel better. You correct your course and carry on, running the same speed as everyone else. Finally! You're normal like everyone else.
You run alongside your peers for awhile and start to really enjoy the camaraderie. It feels good to be accepted into a peer group. This is such a rare occurrence because your legs usually prevent you from spending any time with them. Just when things start to get good again, your legs start to speed up again. At first, it's no big deal, you just have to lag behind a bit and let your new friends catch up. But then it becomes harder to do as your legs get faster and faster until finally, the next time you see any of your "friends", it's when you pass them on your way around the track, on your way to ruin (again). When your legs finally get too fast for your stride, you fall to the ground again and start spinning in circles, except this time, your old "friends" laugh at your condition when they run by you, telling you that they knew you were faking it the whole time. Again, your legs let up and you're able to stand up, only to repeat the cycle ad-infinitum.
Now, replace "running" with "living". Replace "track" with any job and replace "legs" with "brain". You now know a little bit about how it feels to suffer a mental illness (Bipolar Disorder in this case).
The next time you see someone spinning in endless circles on the ground, help them up and tell them that you may not understand what they're going through, but you are there for them if they need you. Otherwise, you may be hearing about how they "tragically" took their own life because they had grown tired of running endless laps with faulty legs.
Instead of Simply saying, "Oh, just ignore them, they're crazy", say, "I'm concerned that we may never see them again, perhaps we should reach out and offer our support".
Post image found at Deviant Art
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