When you've been diagnosed with some kind of mental health issue, your first emotions are probably a mixture of fright, confusion, defeat, & even shame. You might think, Should I tell people about my bipolar disorder? How could I even fathom sharing such a thing?
When I first got my bipolar disorder diagnosis, I certainly had a mix of all of those. But, I also had a sense of relief because I had a label to put on everything I had been experiencing! It still left me wondering if I should actually tell people about my bipolar disorder, though.
The shame settles in. Let's face it.
Our society hasn't exactly paved a road for us to deal with our mental health in a very dignified way.
Whispers at the counter about depression. Primary care providers who don't know how to handle someone depressed or manic or confused sitting in their office. Friends who disappear at the first sign of “craziness.” WEEKS-long waits to see a psychiatrist for the first time. Lengthy mental health surveys.
If everyone's so hush-hush about plain ol' depression, should I tell people about my bipolar disorder?!
I'll say this: At this point, I tell people about my bipolar disorder in the expectation that they'll leave me alone anymore… I prefer to keep to myself anyway… So if I am going to forge a new relationship, they better be in for the roller coaster ride along with me. I am 38 flipping years old. I am done messing around. I have my husband, a kid still at home, & a handful of friends & family that lives far enough away that they're not all up in my business on a daily basis.
I am not opposed to making new friends. I probably SHOULD make a few new, local friends. But I am NOT going to change who I am to gain them. If they can't handle me, they better just GTFO now. Weed 'em out early, y'know? ?
I wouldn't hide diabetes.
I wouldn't hide a cancer diagnosis.
I wouldn't hide being deaf or blind.
I wouldn't hide heart issues.
I wouldn't hide Lupus or arthritis.
So, why would I hide this? Of course, it is okay to tell people about my bipolar disorder. And it's okay for you too.
The only difference is the body part affected.
Illness is illness. Our bodies are not infallible — & that applies to our brains too! Sometimes we don't produce the chemicals we're supposed to or they don't do what they should. That happens. It's biological.
The stigma needs to end.
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