Last night I ran up to the comedy club that I will be at this weekend…I haven’t been there before and I wanted to check it out. Some of the comics I know were there, which was cool, as I had friends to sit with, and friends to support in this comedy business.
A young comedian got up…and during her set, made a joke about Brian Jones. You may remember him as one of the founding members (if not the founding member) of the Rolling Stones.
This made me go and read up on him today.
And wonder if he wasn’t an undiagnosed bipolar.
He was very bright, with mood swings (check). He developed a substance abuse disorder (check). He was a deep thinker and an introvert with his friends but then could be very grandiose and a peacock and crave the spotlight (check and check).
In the end, the Rolling Stones kicked him out of the band. They couldn’t deal with him, with his swings, with his substance abuse, with his paranoia. And in the end, he drowned in his pool.
I understand all of this..far too well. Maybe not Brian Jones well..but I get it.
And it isn’t funny.
I’m trying to be a comedian. And I get that we have to laugh at things.
But laughing at mental illness…not funny. Laughing at somebody going off the crazy train…not cool.
Maybe because I have been there…or almost there. It’s been thisclose.
I understand that we mock which we don’t understand. But we need to try to at least be informed about bipolar disorder. And not in the television dramatic way. In a very humane way.
A lot of people are diagnosed with this. A lot of people don’t make it through the depths of this diagnosis.
The people that do…they are the special group.
We are the special group.
We know how much pain a human can feel…and how much joy….and sometimes in a single day. Or hour.
We walk around, in a constant hyper-vigilant state, wondering if we are over or under reacting. Are we too critical? Too irritable? Did we say too much? Too little?
The pressure…the pressure to live under a bipolar lens is immense.
And once the cat is out of the bag…once an employer or friend or lover or spouse or anybody knows your diagnosis…you can be sure your every move will be forever scrutinized. You can never again just have a bad day.
No wonder the suicide rates are so high for this diagnosis.
I will go on stage next weekend…and I won’t make fun of anybody..but myself. I will complain about driving with kids in the car…for 14 hours…I will talk about the difference between kids now and my childhood…I will drop some f bombs.
But I won’t be unkind. I’m sure the comedian that made the joke didn’t think she was.
But as far as I know, she has never stared at the deep end of a pool. And thought jump. And then walked away. Back to her life. Such as it is.