Why I Didn't Tell You About My Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis
I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder type II just shy of two years ago. I remember sitting in that tiny conference room, listening to my case worker explain the disorder to my parents and me. The depths of depression, the danger of hypomania, the bouts of irritability and the creative mind. I wanted to jump up and down screaming, “That’s me, that’s me!” The suffocating weight of uncertainty was lifted from my chest for the first time. As eager as I was to accept my diagnosis, I cannot say the same about sharing it with others.
1. I was afraid of the stigma.
The more I began to learn about mental illness in our society, the more apparent it became to me that people didn’t want to talk about it. Somewhere along the line, a chemical imbalance had become a forbidden conversation.
2. I didn’t want to scare you.
Bipolar can be a scary word as it is often intertwined with unpredictability. Now, this isn’t entirely false, as mania does come with a bit of impulsivity. It just isn’t the roller-coaster most people conjure up in their minds. The vast majority of the time, I am in control, but there have been a few times my disorder has me pinned down. While I worry about that happening again, I never want you to be afraid of me or for me.
3. I didn’t want you to feel bad for me.
Along with my disorder comes weekly appointments with my therapist, bi-weekly appointments with my psychiatrist, and three different prescriptions. This disorder might sound like a chore, which sometimes it truly is, but my amazing team is there for me. I don’t need a pity party; I need people to go to battle alongside me.
4. I didn’t want to be treated differently.
When the words “bipolar type II” come out of my mouth, I am still the same person I have been for the past 21 years. So please don’t walk on eggshells around me. Please don’t take it personally when I decide to watch Netflix in bed instead of going out. Please keep inviting me. I am still a senior in college who loves a good happy hour.
“The sun will rise, and we will try again.” — Twenty One Pilots
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Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash