Back Of The Bus, Crazypants!

back of the bus

While purveyors of politically correct thought and speech would deny it to their last disingenuous breath, prejudice is very much alive today. While it is increasingly unfashionable to ridicule and despise the “differently enabled” it is still open season on whackadoomians.

“The real tragedy of political correctness is that it has given lying a bad name.” Taz Mopula

If you have been diagnosed Bipolar recently, and up until now have managed to avoid membership in unpopular sub-classes, society is holding a window seat for you…and it’s all the way in the back of the bus. Prejudice, and the cruelty that comes with it, is always predicated on fear of the unknown. Trust me, when it comes to the unknown, mental illness is in its own class; third class.

“We think of the world as a dangerous place and realize too late that we are the most dangerous part of it.” Taz Mopula

The unholy terrain of Mania, with landscapes resembling the nightmare visions of Hieronymus Bosch, is more remote than “wildest” Africa, much less a Cher concert. So brace yourself – all will fear you, some will try to understand you, those who do try to understand you will fail – a small group will accept you as you are and allow you to teach them.

“Share your self; it’s the only thing you have to offer that isn’t readily available elsewhere.” Taz Mopula

At first I was deeply offended when they escorted me to the back of the bus. After a while I came to enjoy it there, I loved my colleagues – the music, humor, food, and camaraderie were so much better. I began to think of my status as a badge of honor. I didn’t mind being on the fringe; it suited me.

“People will always talk about you, and – despite your very best efforts – 90% of what they say will be wrong.” Taz Mopula

But what really stuck in my craw was the mountain of stupidity, assumptions, ignorance, and sheer cruelty that society heaped on us year after year. Remember, if you’re nuts, you’re nuts for life – in the eyes of those around you, no amount of evolution will ever return you to the sane lane.

“Looking for self-worth in someone else’s eyes is like trying to breathe with someone else’s lungs.” Taz Mopula

A quick illustration. My first manic episode happened at age 20, the remaining two major ones happened in my mid-to-late 30s. I was in therapy for 17-years and faithfully monitored my recovery, which included medication and careful reliance on a support network. I even wrote a Bipolar Memoir called Invisible Driving, which chronicled my horrific battle with the illness and subsequent recovery. But in the eyes of friends, family, employers, etc. – it’s like losing your virginity – you cannot un-ring a bell.

“Why raise the bridge when you can lower your expectations of the river?” Taz Mopula

Two years ago, when I was fast approaching my 60th birthday, I initiated a major life change that involved leaving one relationship and beginning another, and leaving my home state of Pennsylvania, where I had spent most of my life, for New Hampshire. I thought about this change very carefully, trying my best to manage it in a way that would minimize any negative impact on those around me. (Bear in mind, it had been nearly 40 years since my first manic episode, and almost 20 years since my last one.)

“There is only one truly authentic way to enjoy success; that is by remaining indifferent to it.” Taz Mopula

Almost without exception, it was assumed by “near and dear” that I was “going-off” – making this dramatic decision not in health, but in a return to madness. That, gentle reader, is how much credit I got for decades of responsibility, facing my illness, and doing the right thing.

“For the sake of convenience be your own best friend. It’s always easy to get in touch with you.” Taz Mopula

In the eyes of society, once you are crazy, you will never be un-crazy. Welcome to the back of the bus.

Published by Alistair McHarg

Alistair McHarg was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, moved immediately to Edinburgh, and three years later moved to Amsterdam. At 6 he settled in Philadelphia and for 16 years was confused by Quaker education; Germanton Friends School and Haverford College. A Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Louisville nudged him even closer to unemployability. Convinced at an early age that fate had chosen writing as his calling, Alistair followed a characteristically slow and circuitous path. He has found work as deck hand on a Norwegian tramp freighter touring South America, Bureau of Land Management Emergency Fire Fighter in Alaska, guide at a Canadian wilderness survival camp, truck driver crisscrossing Colorado's continental divide, and inner city cabbie. Alistair has been arranging words on paper for a living since 1983.