1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email

Discuss in my forum

 Marcia Purse

Secret Handshake

By May 24, 2007

Follow me on:

Nancy has an idea. Why not come up with a special way for people with bipolar disorder to identify themselves to each other without letting anyone else in the room know about it?

Speaking as a card carrying DSM diagnosed Bipolar I, I was thinking it would be handy if we had a way of identifying each other when out there in the world. I mean - seriously, haven't you been somewhere like at church or work and thought you recognized a fellow beeper but weren't sure and didn't want to out that person before they wanted to be out? If we had a secret handshake we could communicate and not let the others know who we were until we were ready.

We could even have levels of handshakes to indicate just how bipolar we are. For instance, in my case, I could make a spinning gesture with my right index finger beside my head and then tap both temples repeatedly with both fingers while making a zzzzttttt sound indicating I have had both inpatient hospitalization and ECT.

This way we could make it easy to form congenial conversation groups at cocktail parties.

What about you? What would be the "secret handshake" or gesture for your flavor of BP? Leave a comment!

May 24, 2007 at 3:50 pm
(1) Virginia says:

That is a very cool idea. I like the zzzztttt and spinning the index finger around and pointing at the two temples! I have had several inpt hospitalizations and ECT as well! I’m givin’ ya the sign ~ roll zzzttt! I’m Bipolar 1 too. And I understand the reason for the secret vibe…A vibe sounds better than a secret handshake, cuz then everyone would KNOW! ha ha lol:)

May 27, 2007 at 8:20 am
(2) Katy says:

I don’t know about secret handshakes, but I do have another idea. Different groups have jewelry to identify themselves. I wear a cross to show I’m Christian and a triangle in a circle to show I’m in AA. But I have no idea what it would be. Anyone have any ideas?

June 4, 2007 at 4:30 pm
(3) Martin says:

How about doing the ‘normal’ handshake but using both hands simultaneously and tapping the person’s hand twice with the left hand.

October 23, 2007 at 4:40 am
(4) Andy Behrman says:

Perhaps I’m missing something here.

What do we, as people living with bipolar disorder, have to hide?

How about jumping up and down and screaming, “I’m bipolar, and there’s a strong chance that 7.5 million Americans are, too!”

I understand the reason to come up with this “secret handshake” so as not to “out” a fellow beeper, but I’m more about being as open as possible as living with bipolar disorder.

Dump the stigma and focus on recovery.

Andy Behrman
Author, “Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania”

October 23, 2007 at 7:13 am
(5) Janet says:

Come out??!! With my experiences…if someone knows you are bipolar…no matter what goes wrong…its YOUR fault because you are bipolar.

October 23, 2007 at 7:16 am
(6) Janet says:

…sorry…back to the question. Yes, I think it would be a great idea. How about something with a tear drop…it indicates the tears we have shed with this horrible disease…

October 23, 2007 at 7:48 am
(7) roselal says:

I like the jewelry idea too. There are cancer awareness & aids pins. I would be into a subtle symbol, like a tear drop.

Why? I don’t want to share bipolarness with just anyone. Janet is right! But it would be so nice to find a local buddy… someone to be able talk freely.

October 23, 2007 at 1:55 pm
(8) CHRISTIANE says:

How about a Bipolar bracelet, just like the medic alert, but with the tear drop on it, it can be made with beads,silver,brass, or gold.
I am Bipolar 1, I am just giving some ideas.

To All Of You,
God Bless
And do remember you are Important no matter what others say!

October 23, 2007 at 4:57 pm
(9) Karl Henry says:

I find the idea of hiding a disorder quite naive and archaic. I prefer to educate the ones who don’t know what bipolar disorder really is.
We should focus on fighting the stigma associated with the disease and communicating it to the masses. Any change in society starts with courage and pride.
Handshakes are interesting but not when you have to live in secrecy…it would never work for me.

October 23, 2007 at 5:30 pm
(10) Jennell says:

I was looking in the internet and discovered that we have a color that represents us, and it is green (not lyme green), it goes mostly for mental illness though there is no specific color for just bipolar. During the Mental Health Awarness Week I wore a green bracelet everywhere and on Thursday I wore as much green as possible since that was biplolar awareness day.

I am at a new job so I cannot tell people my secret for fear of discrimination and loss of job. So I think it is a great idea to wear something to show who you are to the select people who know the code. I am all for communicating the truth and getting rid of the falsehoods, but there is a time and place for it.

October 23, 2007 at 11:48 pm
(11) Dibs says:

I like the jewelry idea but why go with a sad symbol? Sadness and suffering, unfortunately, happen with many things, Cancer for example, but that doesn’t mean they celebrate the negative side. Lets celebrate the fact that we continue to face each day with hope, no matter what our mood. How about a polar bear with two heads looking in different directions shown only from the waist up so it forms a V for Victory! A Bi-Polar Bear……. It could be worn on a necklass, bracelet, ring, pin, tattoo’d, etc by men or women.

October 24, 2007 at 2:11 am
(12) Bruce Watson says:

In the instant before the hands clasp, vigorously shake your left hand, loose at the wrist, slack fingers, the way chimpanzees do, likely to give the impression that you’re crazy, which you are, or that you’ve burned your damn hand on something. Only WE would know what it meant!

October 24, 2007 at 10:43 pm
(13) Christy says:

Well, the term bipolar in the news ALWAYS has a bad “so called stigma” with it in the news lately and I think 1st the media needs to be educated about bipolar that all of us aren’t crime committing people….and then a symbol would be great, but myself for now I just openly share when the opportunity comes as much as possible that my bipolar is under control with my meds and that I can live a normal life. A normal life is possible with correct meds and prayer.

October 25, 2007 at 3:46 pm
(14) Gary says:

I know that unfortunatly any mental illness brings a stigma that is being slowly decreased in our Sociaty. I think that the only way to let others know should be as subtle as possible. I really liked the 2 Polar Bear Idea because Bipolar brings both ups and downs and this is a symbol that only others with bipolar would be able to know that we are Bipolar. Anyone else asking about the emblem you could say that you just like Polar Bears. I do know that my bipolar has brought me many tears but now that my meds are working ok it doesn’t happen as often. I agree that we should be able to rise above the stigma of having Bipolar but it still remains a stigma in many people’s minds due to much more bad press or media attention than it gets on the positive side of it.

October 27, 2007 at 10:44 pm
(15) Donna says:

I like the 2 polar bears idea….. I know that there are people who do not understand, and I would like a way to say “I am a safe friend to talk to” in order to attract possible new friends.

October 28, 2007 at 12:27 am
(16) Carol says:

Bipolar people are not easily accepted. They call you crazy behind your back. If there was anyway to identify myself, I would like it to conceal my identity but with jewlery I do agree. Something we could wear but not obviously. An angel with blue eyes.

October 28, 2007 at 4:07 pm
(17) Ron Case says:

We should all support and work hard to educate our friends about bi-polar disorder. I still can’t believe until recently that there were only 2 million bi-polar individuals. Keeping it a secret? How stupid we were! Now that we are speaking up (some of us) we find there are 7 to 10 million with the illness. Nothing to be ashamed of. Ask for help. It is amazing how responsive and understanding people are becoming. Speak up!

November 4, 2007 at 9:32 am
(18) CJ says:

Hey, I am all for anything that lowers the stigma of mental illness. Jewelry, emblems, slogans, etc. are all great ideas. >>

March 31, 2009 at 1:37 pm
(19) Tiffany says:

I vote for the “Bi-Polar Bear”…how clever!

October 13, 2009 at 10:47 am
(20) ivi says:

i love the idea of jewelry ,rings , exet,,,,,,,,,,,good for men and women ,i think its a very good idea and a very big step forward, it would start to make a very big diffrence

November 16, 2009 at 6:21 pm
(21) James Thornton says:

Why not get a wristband like the Live Strong one?

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.