Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Naked Truth

A couple of weeks ago, I told someone that I had a blog about mental illness. When I told him that my blog was about bipolar disorder he was eager to talk about it. He told me some things that sparked my curiosity. His story reminded me of the other stories that I have heard in the past. In my head, I made a connection between nudity and mental illness.

The young man told me that his father struggles with bipolar disorder. He said that during a manic phase his dad will run around their neighborhood naked. It seemed that this was a common occurrence. The neighbors understood his condition. People would chase him down, throw a blanket over him, and the family would take him to the hospital.

While I was going to the local community college, I told a friend that I had bipolar disorder. My diagnosis was new and I was still learning about my condition. She gave me some advice and we talked for over a hour about the quirks of having bipolar disorder. She told me stories about her young adult son's odd behavior. She said that her son was arrested for wandering around the street naked. I thought it was strange but didn't doubt that something like that could happen.

I know someone who was reported as missing a few years ago. The family called the sheriff's department for help because has schizophrenia. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are both mood disorders with many of the same symptoms and behaviors. The story made the local paper. When he was found, he was naked.

I can only think of one story of personal public nudity. I went skinny dipping at a local lake one summer while I was in high school. I took off my bikini top and bottom and swung them around lasso style above my head while in the water. As fun and shocking as it was to do that in front of a bunch of people, afterwards it was not such a good experience. It was difficult trying to get my bikini back on while trying to stay afloat. I tried my best to keep my private parts under water. Thinking about it today, I suspect was probably in a manic phase.   

I did a google search using the key words "bipolar disorder nudity" and there were many results. It seems that mental illness and nakedness is not uncommon. Some accounts attributed public nudity as a result of lack of inhibition. Some talked about feeling free without the restriction of clothing. Another source claims that running around nude occurs during a delusional episode. 

Is nudity considered to be a sign of mental illness? Just because a person lives a nude lifestyle it doesn't mean that they are mentally ill. Nudist colonies, nude beaches, flashers, public event streakers, exotic dancers...all those people can't all be crazy. Maybe they are a bit deviant, but not mentally ill. I think that in my case, I can say that I am a little of both. 

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jefharris/1552783357/">Jef Harris</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
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