This paper is about making sense of bipolar disorder. We open with lines from a poem titled âOasis of Lifeâ by the poet /coauthor of this article which are part of his endeavor to know and tell some of his embodied experience living with bipolar disorder. We then use this poetry as a framework for interpreting stories of others living with/supporting someone living with bipolar disorder as described by three members â two sisters and their mother â from a family where both sisters and their father have bipolar disorder. Psychologist and professor of psychology Gail Hornstein argues for the value of studying first-hand accounts of living with mental illness. Consistent with Hornsteinâs view, an emerging body of academic work is aimed at building understandings of subjective experiences of living with bipolar disorder. We endorse this conclusion with our finding that metaphors used in the poetry and research data we examined are vital representations of embodied experiences with bipolar disorder within a social context where mental illness is poorly understood. Jadeâs cross to bear, Melanieâs dark hole, and Carolâs elephant in the room reflect bodies weighed down by, immersed in or sitting awkwardly next to, bipolar disorder.
Poetry as a Framework for Understanding Embodied Experiences of Bipolar Disorder
Last date updated on June, 2014