That’s my bipolar shit, what?
That’s my superpower, ain’t no disability.
I’m a superhero! I’m a superhero!Kanye West, Yikes
We rarely bring up a topic like mental illness. It’s awkward and taboo. We might know a friend whose sibling is autistic or has bipolar disorder. We pity them and may even view them as burdens on society. We rarely interact with them because we don’t see them as normal. But what if mental conditions like autism weren’t classified as an illnesses but instead viewed as differences? Different like laptop and desktop. Different like sedan and SUV. Different like me and you.
Gail Saltz, the author of, The Power of Different, gives a compelling perspective on how those with mental illness aren’t to be pitied or feared. She instead shows how they are humans with rich lives who possess qualities that far surpass the creativity and drive of normal people. These are qualities that we would be blessed to have. When we hear about them, they appear superhuman. Those who have read The Big Short know the story of Michael Burry, the autistic hedge fund manager who was one of the first people to identify the mortgage crisis. There’s also the tale of John Nash (one of my personal role models growing up), the schizophrenic mathematician who heavily influenced the ideals of modern game theory. These are people who break that stereotype of debilitating illness and keep us in awe of their accomplishments. They’re superhuman and we wonder how we could ever measure up to them.
Instead of a hopeless world imagined in black and white, Saltz tells us stories of how these mental differences have led to great successes. She humanizes the word autistic. More than anything, I feel like reading this book has made me a better person and has confronted my own anxieties in these matters. Really recommending this one if you want a challenge in perspective.