The 180

OPINION: Don't be a polite friend when it comes to mental illness

We're taught to be polite and kind to the people around us, particularly when those people are struggling with an illness. But Vancouver comedian Alex Biron argues that when it comes to mental illness, being a good friend can backfire.

When Vancouver comedian and podcast host Alex Biron started acting strangely, he says his friends treated him with kindness. 

But when he ended up in the psychiatric ward after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he started to wish his friends had been a little less kind — and a little more willing to confront him about his behavior. 

I didn't need friends to have faith and accept me for who I was. I needed people to say I was acting weird. - Alex Biron

In this radio essay, Biron argues early intervention for mental illness is a messy and uncomfortable process that sometimes requires people to forget everything they think they know about being a good friend. 

Click on the blue button to hear the piece.