Bipolar (Typo) Demons

Imagine my English-major horror when I picked up our printed Christmas card for this year, flipped it over to examine the text on the back, and discovered a typo.

Of course, I had already sent the cards out to my entire address book…

Beyond the fact that I don’t own a time machine and it would be impossible to correct my mistake, I had to laugh that I was so frazzled, I sent out the card without the normal multi-round revisions and painstaking scrutiny. Sometimes bipolar episodes are dramatic situations with life or death hanging in the balance. Other times, you just send Christmas cards with a typo on them because you’re too disassociated to pay attention to your own writing.

It brought me back to two separate thoughts that used to haunt me constantly.

  1. Grammar Nazis of the Early Internet: The kind where they don’t care about anything you have written or contributed if you don’t write with the precision of a tenured English professor. They would rather condemn you to shame and silence than read imperfect sentence.
  2. The Idea my Studies have made me a Flawlessly Competent Writer & a Typo Proves I’m a Fraud: The people who reacted to my college major by telling me they would have to watch how they speak around me or joke I couldn’t possible have a degree in English because I have already failed to produce a sonnet about the beauty of making their acquaintance, have forever left me uneasy.

When I found myself staring at a Christmas card with a typo in it, the terror raced through my veins that now everyone would know I was never truly a writer. But then, I stopped to think. Several people had already contacted me about receiving our holiday cards and no one had mentioned the typo. Also, what happens if someone does?

Nothing. Because it doesn’t matter.

On one of my worst weeks in recent memory, I made a typo. I’m sure I will make one again. I’m sure there are dozens, if not hundreds, of typos crawling all over the over 3 million-ish words I have written and edited over the years. Not a single one of them proves anything about me. Except that perhaps, I’m human.

When it really comes down to it, there was no permanent damage done with this episode. In my continued life with bipolar disorder, I have far more successes to be grateful for than typos to have anxieties about.