When I was first diagnosed with bipolar depression I actually took it rather well. I was relieved to have an explanation and some sort of lifeline to get out of the hell I was going through. Between raising three children under five, a tween, working full time and being a partner, well damn…it’s enough to challenge anyone and so ’round about 2005 my brain had just had enough of “normal”. Fortunately this all happened in a safe way with friends surrounding me but it something was wrong so, it was off to a psych doc for me and they eventually figured it out and started me on a med regimen that helped. A lot.
I have spent years wondering if I really have bipolar disorder and it’s only recently that I was able to truly accept that regardless of the label, something was wrong. That and it seemed like the label sort of fit based on all the stuff my care circle was saying so…bipolar disorder it was! An anxiety disorder diagnosis is just a bonus! Now I just had to figure out what to do about it. I’d always been religious with my medications so that wasn’t an issue. But learning how to not only live but thrive with this condition became my primary focus. I read every book, page, and blog I could get my hands on.
You know what I learned? Most people don’t want to talk about it. Ever. Not even quietly in corners. Not even in comments on a Faceboook post. They don’t even want to “like” a mental illness related post. It makes them uncomfortable. As a society we just keep it secreted away and hope that perhaps if we don’t talk about it then it’s not real. Sort of like playing peek-a-boo with a small child, if I can’t see it then it doesn’t exist.
That pissed me off. A lot. How could something that affects over 5 million people (in the US alone) just be tucked away never to be spoken of? What was that going to do to help get funding for research or to normalize the issue? Nothing.
That’s where media (including this blog) comes in. See, when I get pissed I get active so I did just that. I made the very thoughful, difficult, and deeply personal decision to come out of the bipolar closet. Publicly. Not just to my friends, not just to my family, but to complete strangers. Via email, my local newspaper, my public Facebook profile, through my Twitter, and on my blog. Why? In the hope that someone, somewhere, will realize they are not alone. That there is at least one other person out there who understands and cares. Maybe someone who will see a bit of themselves in me. Yes, it could cost me friends, or a job, or other things I can’t think of yet but I have faith it will all work out. Besides, I don’t want any of those things if they can’t accept me as I am, completely. I already have all I need and anything else is icing on the cake.
Best of all, I learned today that my efforts have already made a difference in at least one person’s life and for that alone I am glad I’ve made the decisions I have.