I’m bipolar (1, specifically) and ended up manic last week. A series of events, public and private (the election and personal circumstance), left me surfing the safe side of a manic wave. It was glorious, I felt amazing. There’s always risk when we fly close to the sun. Eventually the wave crested and I had to admit to myself and others that I was, in fact, manic (the bad kind).

Cade, you’re mixing metaphors, choose one.

I write this as an elephant dose of antipsychotics swing the old thinker back into an “acceptable” realm. Mixed imagery is descriptive of how my brain works when manic— on topic but rapidly cycling. There are other challenges like reduced inhibition, but a sense of being trapped, hyper-focused in your own head is the most debilitating for me.

In a way, the recent series of events is a small victory. I have friends who were kind and pointed out “Cade, you OK?” I had someone who held me as I bawled in the realization I was manic. I had medicine and medical professionals ready to combat the fugue. I’ve struggled for over a decade to get to this place where a silly chemical imbalance in my brain doesn’t destroy my life and hurt those I love. We caught it this time team, and we’ll catch it even faster next time.

Every manic episode requires a recovery effort. Sometimes it’s a plane ride from another continent, a brother dragging your ass home, a trip to a mental ward, or an attempt to balance a checkbook beaten to oblivion by spending. This time it’s easy: clean up social media.

As I log in to start the process, I realize that there’s an opportunity. We neuroatypical folks hide in the shadows. We’re everywhere. We sit next to you at the office, in line at the bank, and across the dinner table. And yet we hide. We hide because we’re ashamed that for whatever reason our brains don’t fit in the tiny box that society finds acceptable.

I am not ashamed. The posts are staying up.

Might there be professional or social fallout from letting my freak flag fly? Absolutely, but I’m merely confirming what my boss (I’m actually quite candid about my struggles) or neighbor already suspected. I’ll risk it for those who can’t.

We must normalize our struggles for all of us to get ahead. Our struggles don’t always happen in the mind, they are frequently socioeconomic biases that evade even the most critical self-reflection. We can’t fix the big problems until we fix ourselves. A little empathy goes a long way. Remember when your co-worker acts out, the stock market plummets, or your favorite social network serves errors that it’s only temporary; tomorrow will be better.

I’m neuroatypical. I’m your friend, your sister, your neighbor, your barista, and your janitor. I’m Cade and I want good things for you.

If you like this post, please donate to organizations that support equality, justice, and free expression— we’re all better for it.