When My Coworker Asked If I Was Going to Bring a Gun to Work


“Should I be worried that you’re going to bring a gun here and shoot me?”

Those were the words my coworker used when I revealed to him I have bipolar disorder. This was the first time I was rendered speechless by someone’s response to my mental illness. It was also the first time I realized there are actually people who make grand assumptions about people who live with mental illness.

Unfortunately, gun violence is a huge issue in the United States. Every day, people are murdered by another person using a gun. It seems like every week there’s yet another “mass” shooting. And sometimes, people make comments about the shooter, saying he or she must have a mental illness.

I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for 12 years. Before and since my diagnosis, I have never been violent towards another person, even when my symptoms were at their most severe.

The truth is, I still kiss my mom. I cry at TV commercials about the Humane Society.  I Snapchat silly pictures to my niece and nephew. I dance in the car with my sister. I send my dad “I love you” texts with too many heart emojis. I make funny faces at random kids to see them smile. I send my Grandma flowers just because.

So to my coworker: No, I will never bring a gun to work. I will never be violent towards you or hurt you in anyway. You can’t make assumptions about people based on their illnesses. I’m too busy sending silly Snapchats and dancing in the car, anyway.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Bipolar Disorder

When I Look For a Hero, This Is Where I Look Now

I’ve been working through some body image issues and looking for a positive body role model. I’ve been looking for someone to inspire me to become something better. But then I realized: I’m my own hero. Every time I look into the mirror means I’ve made it through the fist-clenching struggles of another day. I [...]

When I Realized My Untreated Mental Illness Was Affecting My Children

As a mother, I don’t play when it comes to protecting my children. It’s a talent, I guess. But one thing some mothers have that can utterly destroy their family is pride. Especially when that mother needs to get help for her illness. I know that too well. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, [...]

We Need to Support Mental Illness, Even When It's Not Cute

I am the parent of a child with a severe mental illness, although it’s taken me several months to say that confidently and without my voice wavering. How did we end up with a diagnosis of a severe mental illness in such a young child? With increasingly difficult and extreme behavior at home, a psychiatric inpatient hospitalization [...]

What They Don’t Teach You About Bipolar Disorder In Psychology Class

Bipolar disorder is a serious disease. It’s not fun. It’s not trendy. Bipolar (for me at least) means consistent medication, dose changes and getting adequate sleep to stay well. Bipolar means periods of extremes. Mania and depression, then mania again. A cycle through the seasons. Mania is a state of the brain. It seems rather misunderstood as a whole. It’s important [...]