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How the Recent ‘Insecure’ Episode Nailed How Bipolar Changes Relationships

“Insecure’s” recent episode, “Faulty, Okay?!” shook me when Nathan (Kendrick Sampson) finally confronted his cousin, Thomas, about issues from Nathan’s past (see season three). I was totally in my feelings when Nathan attempted to explain how he’s a totally different person now. He’s stable. He’s trustworthy. Unfortunately, Thomas, nor his wife, Velma, were in a place to move past the sins of Nathan’s past. Nathan was highly unpredictable which inadvertently put their kids in unsafe situations. Thomas left the door open for future discussions, but had already called an Uber.

Moments later, Issa comes through for Nathan with support and listens as he shares two poignant sentiments:

1. “I just wanted them to see I got my life together.” 

After I experienced a major manic episode in 2018, I lost many friends and colleagues in its wake. Though I took time to apologize and make amends, some people could only see me as the unpredictable, risk-taking, life-shattering person I was during that time. One thing that hurt the most was that many of these people knew me for years. They knew my track record of integrity, of being a high-performer, of being a loving and caring person. But, those three months of chaos left their mark on them.

While I understand where they’re coming from, that doesn’t lessen the pain of people you trusted, distancing themselves from you because they’re afraid of the “old” you, the you whose brain was hijacked, who never asked for any of that hell. What also hurt was I’d taken responsibility for my actions and the pain I caused, but still it wasn’t enough. I’ve come a long way from the rawness of those hurts, but I’d be lying if I said the bitterness and the anger weren’t still rumbling somewhere beneath the surface. I just want them to know I got my life together. But they’ve blocked me, unfriended me, ended our LinkedIn connections, never reaching out to congratulate our family on the birth of our daughter, or send condolences for those who’ve passed away.

2. “Can’t change how nobody see me.” 

It’s been a long while since I first publicly shared about my episode. The move was intentional. For starters, I wholeheartedly believe sharing about my mental illness journey helps lift the stigma for others, especially as a Black man. In a recent HuffPost interview, actor Kendrick Sampson (Nathan) shares something similar:

“This is one of the things that we live with. There are systems built around targeting our mental health and so, it’s impossible to grow up in this country and not experience trauma and not need to heal from it…We go through life with those issues and often don’t have the tools that we need. It’s just showing us living, it’s not some sensationalized version of mental illness which is what we usually see.”

Though we cannot change how the world views us, we can work to help people unlearn their misperceptions about bipolar disorder.

Admittedly, I’ve tried and failed to change people’s perspective of me for quite some time. I think many of us do it. We don’t want to be seen as the anxious cousin who comes to visit during the holidays. Or the friend with depression who never wants to go out. But, we cannot change how others see us, though we are multifaceted and more than our diagnoses.

That’s the second reason I share my story. I want to have a hand in shaping a new narrative around bipolar disorder, and I’m thankful for shows like “Insecure” that are one step closer to getting these types of portrayals right. I felt the pain and loss Nathan felt when his cousin, Tommy, headed to his Uber, cutting the conversation short, no chance for Nathan to explain his side of things. I know what it feels like to feel dismissed in those instances. To hope for a second chance, but come up with nothing except for the the space between the relationship we had and whatever it will become.

I don’t have an easy answer for processing this type of pain. I’m still in it. But, it’s so helpful to know others are going through this too, real or fictional.

Lead image via Insecure’s official Facebook page

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