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To the Man Who Broke up With Me Because of Bipolar Stigma

September 3, 2017.

You sat me on the edge of my bed and made sure to keep your distance as you explained to me I no longer had a place in your life. Tears streamed down my face as you told me that your family, now knowing my bipolar disorder diagnosis, did not approve. They thought we had broken up two weeks ago, and you had been hiding me. I always knew you were ashamed.

They had made sure to tell you to keep in touch with them, as they knew you were on your way to visit me for the last time. When you stopped answering their texts, they exploded my phone with calls, making sure you were safe. Didn’t you know that those who are bipolar are extremely unstable and dangerous? I was going to harm you and take away from your successes; in fact, I probably already had. They feared I would never be cured of bipolar. I thought I had told you so many times that I wasn’t looking for a cure; I was OK with the cards God had dealt me.

They thought I would never amount to anything and I would depend on you like a crutch. Are healthy minds more successful? I would certainly never be allowed to be a doctor because I was sick. They had told you I would not be a good enough partner, surely never a good enough wife. Those who are bipolar tend to be unfaithful as they engage in risky behaviors. The almost humorous thing about this statement now, is that you were the only unfaithful one in our relationship. I would certainly never be a good mom; how could I raise a child when I could not even take care of myself?

Each of these words might as well had been etched into my skin, God knows I felt the pain of every syllable coming from your mouth.

The news continued; you had found another girl; in fact, you found her before you even left me. It wasn’t cheating though; it was simply bound to happen with the way things had been going. I was too much to handle. It was time for you to be with her and to experience a healthy and happy love. She was everything you could ever ask for, and didn’t I just want you to be happy? She was strong and successful, and most importantly healthy. She was beautiful, and her body had not undergone the torture that a history of eating disorders and harsh medications produces. You explained to me that our entire relationship had quite possibly been a lie and that it was time to let go. I had imagined everything, as if the words that you had poured into my soul never existed. What about all the notes and poems you had left me? You explained you had needed me for a short time when you were weak, but you were strong now and you no longer needed my love. You made sure to tell me this was the last time I would ever hold your hands; it was her turn now. This was the only promise you ever kept.

On this day, you robbed me of the next year of my life. I would spend the next 12 months crying myself to sleep, and questioning if you were right. Would anybody ever love me or accept me for everything I am? Would I ever be a doctor? Would I ever be a good mom? Would I ever be a wife? Would I ever be anything? On numerous occasions, I contemplated ending everything. I would sit on the edge of my bed, where you had delivered all this news, and would carefully plan my method. I was very aware that if I could just go through with it, I would be gone, and the pain would leave with my being. I would no longer be haunted by your words on that September afternoon.

I could have easily let you win; in fact, I almost did. This would be too easy though; this would mean everything I had ever worked for would simply amount to the few sentences you had used to describe me. I chose to live, not for you but for myself. I would lie in bed and whisper all the things I knew myself to be, over and over. As my mom had whispered to me as a small child: “Megan, you are beautiful, smart, special and loved; you can be anything that you want to be.” Sometimes, I would say this statement for hours, just to take my mind away from the dark thoughts that lingered. There were nights I would not sleep, and there were days I would not wake up. I truly suffered, and not once did you check in to make sure I was doing OK. I was bipolar; I was not worthy of the perfect life you pretend to live. You truly did erase every trace of me. It was though we had never existed.

Things truly fell apart the moment they found out my diagnosis, and it was made very clear I wasn’t to be around anymore. It only takes one person to ruin a perfect family image. You were so ashamed that you had been hiding me for the last bit of our relationship. The stigma all of you showed toward me shaped me into the woman I am today. I advocate for those who have not yet found their voice, just like me on that warm September day, too scared to speak up and defend myself and my actions. I simply sat there and took every harsh phrase that rolled off your tongue. I have spent a year hiding and allowing you to say what you want about me. How many people have decided to leave my life because you have chosen to expose my deepest secrets? These were not your secrets to expose; it was never your place to tell people about my darkest moments.

I have taken power away from you by choosing to tell my story. There are no longer any secrets to be told. Today is the day I break the silence and I tell everyone the truth. I am not a monster, a misfit or whatever all of you consider me to be. I know I will be an amazing doctor, I will be an amazing partner and I will be an even better mom. I know this not only because so many people tell me, but because I now tell myself.

It has taken me a year to understand why we ever crossed paths. Why would anyone ever deserve to suffer the way you forced me to? Every lie you ever told me robbed me of so many things. The worst part is that only you and I know what went down when we were behind closed doors. I lost trust not only in people but in myself. Along with my faith in humanity, I lost my self-worth. I have been spending so long truly believing I will never recover from the hurt you made me feel. Stigma hurts more than anything I have ever experienced, let me tell you. This, however, has given me so much knowledge and wisdom. I am so strong, and I am using these situations to help others who similarly have been crushed by a form of hidden stigma.

I would like to thank you for tearing me down. I have met so many amazing souls with similar stories. I have found a new purpose in my life. I have survived my hardest and darkest year, and I have built myself back up.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Photo by Christian Ferrer on Unsplash