Elon Musk is bipolar, according to a series of articles based on an exchange on Twitter.
Responding to another tweet he said, “The reality is great highs, terrible lows, and unrelenting stress…”
“I’m sure there are better answers than what I do, which is just take the pain and make sure you really care about what you’re doing.”
He was then asked if he was bipolar and answered simply: “Yeah.”
“Maybe not medically tho [sic]. Dunno. Bad feelings correlate to bad events, so maybe real problem is getting carried away in what I sign up for.’
Bipolar has increasingly entered the vocabulary as an adjective rather than a noun, and Elon says in those tweets that he has not been “diagnosed” but the exchange is food for thought, if only as an example of the part of bipolar that gets too little attention… the capacity for inspirational change that can arise from the ups and downs of the condition.
This is one of the news stories on the topic, which got a lot more attention in the British press than the American…
My own “riff” on this was to think about the book The Hypomanic Edge by John Gartner. John argues that much of what makes America great is due to hypomania and its seemingly impractical quest for change.
There is also the more scientific, and nuanced, research finding that bipolar is associated with more success in leadership positions (but also with more poor outcomes, a typical bipolar result, poised between greatness and catastrophe).
Working at the UCSF Bipolar Clinic, and at Gateway Psychiatric’s Mood Disorder Clinic, I am privileged to see how many people with bipolar are very successful, and how they achieve that success.
Most of these stories, however, are kept secret.
Which means that the visible side of bipolar is often the catastrophic failure that is also a possible outcome.
As more is talked about bipolar, though, it becomes possible to see that the condition can not be understood as just a “disease”… although at times it may be that… And that is good.