Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Manic Depression, Identity and Robert Barone

One of the most difficult aspects for people affected by bipolar disorder is the issue of identity. No doubt there are also people who have not been diagnosed with an illness who also feel alienation within society. Such is the case with Robert Barone in 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' With people who are bipolar, progressive or sudden ups and downs mean that nobody knows where they stand. Most bipolar people are depressed two-thirds of the time which means that they can often be misdiagnosed as depressive. While bipolar people strive for the manic episodes, so that they can party, create or converse with others, other times they are labeled as outright depressed. As a result bipolar people are constantly forced to restrain themselves from talking about their condition.

Especially at times when we are discovering about the illness and all we think about is whether are we up or down, we have to step back and think about other interests that are completely different. It seems that we can only mention our disorder at times when we are not in a non-bipolar group. But being in a bipolar group would definitely be interesting. When we are together with people who we know are bipolar, we feel much more comfortable and we can identify with them. Our best of friends are usually those people who can listen to our drama one-on-one rather than those who speak within a group. Topics of discussion vary with each person but since childhood we are usually the outsiders.

We are all outsiders like Robert Barone's character in 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' We are outsiders because we cannot identify ourselves to a specific tradition. When viewed from the perspective of a sitcom, Robert Barone is funny. We laugh at how he is always second-best to Raymond and how he never gets what he wants. The minute he gets some attention he perks up and he is happy but other times he always feels neglected. In real life we would not laugh at Robert at all. I am not suggesting that Robert is bipolar but he certainly has issues with who his friends are and who to identify with. The video below shows the first time Robert has ever been to a club. He feels a bit alienated being in a club where he is the only white person but he then starts to feel he is part of the group. The next video shows how Robert starts speaking like a black person and how he asks Raymond why his cop partner (who is a black female) has invited him to a meal alone.

We can conclude then that even though we search for an identity, we are never able to find the right one. Robert finally realizes that he cannot be black but makes it clear that he will always be searching for an identity. It is tough to identify with a specific culture and it is difficult to let our emotions spill. We have to be hard on the outside despite being fragile on the inside. But we also have to pick and choose who we converse with. Being bipolar means we have two identities and we have to work with both of them. Full recovery would mean that we could handle both sides. As long as we attempt to manage our moods, we will not suffer difficulty in life.


Dave Dragon said...

Interesting article!

I have been living with Bipolarisim as well as PTSD.

For many years I went undiagnosed and basically felt it was just my lot in life to be depressed and angry most of the time.

Thanks goodness I found a Doctor that listened to me and prescribed the right meds to get me in balance.

My "Identity" is now easy for me to remember.

Cinderellaaa said...

Many individuals being treated for depression (major depressive disorder) are actually dealing with bipolar disorder—but they don’t know it yet because they haven’t recognized the symptoms.

It’s not surprising that misdiagnosis happens. After all, depression and bipolar disorder do have some symptoms—the depressive ones—in common. But they are two different conditions that require different treatments.

In general, depression involves overwhelming feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness. Bipolar disorder involves episodes of depression and episodes of mania. Manic episodes are periods of elated mood, which can include racing thoughts, extreme irritability or reckless behavior.

Depression and bipolar disorder can each interfere with your daily life, making it more difficult to accomplish and enjoy the things you normally do. But when the condition is diagnosed correctly, you can receive treatment that is appropriate for you.

there are symptoms to help you better understand the differences between depressive and manic episodes of bipolar disorder.

for depression:


Excessive crying

Loss of pleasure

Abnormal sleep

Low energy


Difficulty concentrating


Loss of appetite or overeating
Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness

Ongoing physical problems that are not caused by physical illness or injury (eg, headaches, digestive problems, pain)

Thoughts of death or suicide

for mania:

Inappropriate sense of euphoria (elation)
Racing thoughts; talking too much

Extreme irritability
Reckless behavior

Abnormal sleep

Excessive energy

Out of control spending

Difficulty concentrating

Abnormally increased activity, including sexual activity

Poor judgment

Aggressive behavior