I often find myself laughing at stock photos. The photographers who create them strive to capture every possible human experience with the hopes that someone will one day find their obscure photos and think, "A woman dumping spaghetti on her head? That's exactly what I need for my upcoming Powerpoint presentation at work! Take my money!"
More recently though, I stumbled upon a handful of photos that left me incredibly frustrated. I'd taken on a project related to bipolar disorder, a serious health condition marked by extreme emotional highs and lows, and needed some visuals to accompany my writing. I typed "bipolar" into one of the many stock photo websites and was shocked at what I found.
Mingled among the illustrations of brain neurons and depictions of people talking to therapists were five images that I'd be embarrassed to show the 5.7 million American adults who suffer from this disorder. I double-checked my search term, and sure enough, the photos were categorized with the term "bipolar." I checked a competing stock photo website and found the same exact thing.
I decided to share these photos, along with their original titles, because I know people who have bipolar disorder. I am familiar with the struggles they face and the victories they celebrate. And in light of these facts, I know the following five awful stock images shouldn't represent bipolar disorder.
1 of 5 "Deranged man gripping an invisible object"
A better caption for this image would be "The expression I have when when I encounter ridiculous stereotypes about mental health." I'm not exactly sure what the photographer was intending for this photo, but I can't help but be disappointed by the fact that this image was categorized as "bipolar," "insane," "lunatic," and "disturbed."