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Why I Don't Come Out As Mentally Unwell In Public

Marcus Einfeld has bipolar, court hears

If you read the article, you'll discover the lawyers for this particular former judge have brought up the possibility that he has a long-term, previously undiagnosed bipolar mood disorder, and are offering this as a reason why his two year minimum sentence should be altered.

From the article: Einfeld is serving a minimum two-year jail term after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice and making a false statement under oath to avoid a speeding fine.

The 70-year-old claimed that an American academic was driving his car when it was caught speeding, despite knowing she died the previous month.

I don't have bipolar disorder myself. What I do have is a chronic mental illness, which so far hasn't prompted me to do anything illegal, or to consider myself above the law. Strangely enough, there are a lot of mentally unwell people out there (and out here, come to that) who go through their entire damn lives without once coming to the attention of the police as anything other than victims of crime. But when mental illness is mentioned in the media, it's generally in the context of someone claiming a previously undiagnosed chronic mental illness which apparently severely affected them only at the time of the crime they're being charged with, and never before or since.

Now, it may be that Mr Einfeld was under the affect of either a manic period, or maybe a depressive episode, when he said something damn stupid in order to try and avoid a flippin' speeding fine. Or maybe he was an ordinary enough bloke who just didn't want to have to cop the fine, and chose to make a stupid lie to the police about who was driving his car at the time it was speeding. Having made this stupid lie, he then stuck by it, and wound up getting the book thrown at him, particularly since he was a flippin' Federal Court Judge and therefore should have known better than to try it in the first bloody place. But either way, the mania or the depression didn't make him do something so bloody stupid.

If Mr Einfeld has had bipolar mood disorder for a long period of time (and has coped with it admirably, one presumes, since he's now seventy and nobody apparently noticed until this psychiatrist he's talking to now raised the option) and has been dealing with his demons in solitude, that's a tragedy. I know depression is enough of a hell on its own, and I have every sympathy for the man. But being mentally unwell isn't an excuse for illegal behaviour, and it shouldn't be claimed as such, or reported that way.

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