Home > bipolar, depression, doctors, gay, LGBT, psychosis, symptoms > Keeping Up Appearances

Keeping Up Appearances

I’m a gay man and when I was a gay teenager I desperately wanted to be straight. I tried for 10 years. In the early 1990s, the information about ex-gay therapy began to appear on the Internet. I learned that it was the opinion of some therapists themselves that ex-gay men would never be cured. That, like a broken pot that had been put back together they would always bear the “scars” of being gay. I also read the opinion that as long as the ex-gay man acted outwardly as if he was cured, no matter what he felt inside, he could be said to be cured. It was then that I realized that ex-gay therapy was a complete sham. More recent revelations about ex-gay therapy have only re-enforced this opinion.

The parallels between ex-gay therapy and treatment for bipolar disorder are only superficial.

My doctor and I have often discussed the fact that there is no cure for bipolar disorder. Every so often we get our hopes up about a remission, but more often than not it is just an extra long “up” mood swing and me being selective about the symptoms I report to him. The depression and the mania always come back. So, we don’t talk about remission much any more. Also, considering that I am on a fair bit of medication, my psychoses are getting worse.

What prompted this post, and why I included the bit about ex-gay therapy at the top, is that my doctor recently asked me not to talk to people, except him, about the crazy stuff (not his word, obviously) any more. I know the situation is different. We’re not pretending I’m cured. I’m not pretending I’m not bipolar. However, I suspect I have crossed a line where the stuff going on in my head can scare the people around me. I’m hearing voices in the room, which seems perfectly natural to me, but which I know is pretty creepy to anyone else. So now, as my doctor suggested, I have to keep “two sets of books”. One set of books for what I’m experiencing; and the other set for what I suspect is real. I have to make sure that I only react to the real set. I’m sure this is pretty standard psychiatric advice. It’s probably even in a textbook somewhere.

I’ve thought about it. Don’t I have a right to my own reality? I mean, I certainly do as a gay man. Why not as a bipolar man (or whatever I am)? My decision as Travis is that my psychotic reality is the result of malfunctions in my brain. As a gay man I am uncommon but otherwise no less functional[1], but as a psychotic man I think by almost any measure I am dysfunctional. My decision as Travis is that the objective physical world (not necessarily congruent with any particular philosophy) is a far better place to inhabit than a psychotic world where there are few predictable rules.

[1] Many right-wingers would argue that LBGTQ people are dysfunctional but I disagree. Usually the arguments revolve around reproduction, but we can reproduce or adopt just like everyone else. Otherwise the arguments involve studies about behaviour that have been disproved or fabricated.

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