Why I’ve Decided to Come Out of the ‘Bipolar Closet’
You didn’t know I was bipolar, did you? Secret’s out. I’m out of the bipolar closet.
There’s a reason you didn’t know. There’s a reason most of the people in my life didn’t know, so don’t take it personally. I chose to keep it to myself from pretty much everybody. You see, everyone who suffers from a mental illness knows there is a huge stigma surrounding it. The lack of love and support typically extended to a bipolar person can be crushing. I have experienced it on many occasions from friends and close family members to acquaintances and I dare say people I don’t know, who I’ve met in the grocery store.
To some extent I used to think you can’t blame them because they don’t know about mental illness, but with the number of people suffering in the country — and in the world today — now I think you can blame them, but we have to take a step to educate. Time is up on ignorance. The time has come to make a change!
Several of my hurtful stigma-related issues in recent years are when people tell me some form of their opinion of bipolar disorder, not knowing of my bipolarity. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who think bipolar women shouldn’t be allowed to have children. In the past I’ve never called them out or said anything and maybe it’s insecurity, but maybe it’s really smart to protect myself? I’m not sure, and it’s a pretty fine line between the two. I hate how the stigma always leaves feeling I have something to prove. As if I have to prove I am normal. What is normal anyways?
Statistically one in four adults experience some form of mental illness in a given year. This basically suggest there’s someone (at least one) affected by it in every family. Either they don’t know it, don’t admit it or won’t admit it out of fear — all largely due to stigma. Stigma is preventing people who desperately need help from seeking the help they need to function and lead a healthy and stable life.
My passionate hope is to share my story and the things I wish someone had told me from the day I was diagnosed. My hope is to help others diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Although I know we sometimes have to learn life’s lessons the hard way, it’s also nice to get practical advice, even though it may not immediately be used or particularly asked for, yet.
Those of us with bipolar disorder are all looking for support and to know someone has walked a path before us. We all want to know we are understood, and not alone in this crazy messed-up disorder.
In telling my story, my deepest desire is not only to help others but to fight the biggest fight of my life — to fight the terrible stigma attached to mental illness. Maybe, just maybe, I can show what it’s really like to live with bipolar disorder and how misunderstood it is.
I hope I don’t lose friends over this, y’all. People will always say, “If you lose friends over this, they aren’t your ‘real friends,'” and as true as that is, it would still hurt. Either way, I’m opening myself up. Take me for who I am. I’m still the girl you’ve known all along, only now, I’m actively and openly fighting for a cause I’m incredibly passionate about.
Happy and stable,
A version of this originally appeared on Mrs. Bipolarity.