Hi Janelle, Thank you for being interested in this post and asking me about people's notion about mental health in Japan. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it’s safe to say that we generally have less understanding of mental disorder whatsoever than the westerners probably do. Talking about it openly is not still considered to be very common or preferable (or it could even be a taboo topic..), I guess. It might be becoming better compared to some decades ago, though. Still, however, people might consider you to be “an attention whore” or “a self-pittier” if you openly talk about your mental condition.


I’m afraid some people might decide to keep away from me by revealing to them I have bipolar II disorder. They might think I’m a difficult person to deal with. That’s partly because what bipolar is is not well-known, and people might tend to fear or even avoid what they don’t know much about. Or people tend to think that it's none of their business and just keep ignoring it. So, a little later on, I began to feel a bit regret. I knew the fact that I was diagnosed with bipolar doesn’t change anything. I’m still me - the same person as yesterday, 3 years ago, even ten years ago. I thought “Oh, should I have bothered to say it? Should I have made it public?” I didn’t mean to try to get people’s attention or anything like that by doing so. Too bad if I ended up giving them such an impression.(You know, "ordinary" people normally talk only about something that makes them look "superior" and not going out to revealing something that makes them look "inferior," right? So that's why my doing this confused me. No offense, but does it show how "UNordinary" I am after all??) 


I learned that more people (one in 20, according to one research study) have bipolar disorder than I expected. It turned out that I was one of them, but to be totally honest with you, it made me feel relieved or even happy than disappointed or shocked because the long-term confusion about my tendency was defined finally by being diagnosed. I even feel I’ve been saved. I’ve always wanted to know what makes my mood swing so much. I’ve always wanted to know what makes me feel so miserable shortly after feeling excited and euphoric for a while. Now I understand what it is all about thanks to my hospital visit (recommended by one of my daughters). However, just as recently as one year ago or so, I never thought I might have this disorder. When my friend asked me if I do, I laughed it off. I knew I had some bad days, but I thought so did everyone. Besides, I knew that people with bipolar disorder tend to do something eccentric and outrageous in the periods of elevated mood, and my mood wasn’t uplifted that much. (Maybe my hidden meaning was "I'm not that crazy!" ...sorry about my harsh language...) This shows how little I actually knew about this mental disorder back then. “Bipolar I disorder” was the one I was talking about then, and I didn’t know that there’s another a little milder one - bipolar II disorder. Then I ended up realizing that’s the one that my friend was talking about then, and the more I looked into the symptoms, the more similarities I began to find with mine. It made perfect sense to me. Then it made me sure that revealing my condition and how long and how this disorder has tormented me could help someone who is having trouble in a similar situation without knowing what to do or what is happening to them. This is how I decided to make my bipolar II disorder available to public. 


I understand it’s very difficult to admit that you might be having mental disorders. It’s even more difficult if you think that what you’re having might be something that is socially unacceptable (I’m not saying that bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses are the ones). It’s no wonder that people tend to feel confused about something that they don’t really know. I myself might have some biased ideas about something without noticing just because I’m ignorant about it. That is something that my experience taught me and made me think this time also.


Thank you again for your comment and giving me such a great opportunity to think about people’s attitude toward mental ailments in Japan.