Greetings fellow bloggers, today I am going to dive into the ocean of mental illness and explore its stigma infested waters. Kinda sounds like I’m trying to impress my high school English teacher with that descriptive and sarcastic lede, huh? Maybe. If you’re out there Mr. Marshall look at me now!
In all seriousness sarcasm is one of the only ways I know how to deal with most of lives hardships. So if you already hate my cheap rhetoric and overplayed commentary then something a little more angsty like “Catcher in the Rye,” may appeal better to your senses. (Don’t take my advice when it comes to gaining readership)
WHEN YOU REALIZE A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK YOU ARE ‘CRAZY’
First things first never make assumptions, especially not assumptions about other peoples assumptions. In layman’s terms; don’t assume.
I recently had someone very close to me tell everyone they know about my mental illness (Bipolar II) Their reason is actually quite justified considering I broke up with them and a huge driving force behind my decision was the concern for my mental health. OK so that’s that, right? No, absolutely wrong. Even if I were to write this all off as my budding anxiety I don’t think my feelings should go overlooked.
I’m not even sure it bothers me that people know so much as it bothers me that now I am the problem, ya know? The breakup is clearly all because I couldn’t handle a relationship. Maybe I sound bitter but mental illness or not no one wants and/or needs negativity in their life and that is why I left. Yet my illness explains everything and now it has become an issue for me and not them. The pressure has been taken off them and has been put all on my shoulders. It seems unfair. I think in a lot of ways it’s easier for others to use my illness as an excuse for themselves. “Yeah, the relationship was just too hard for her. She’s Bipolar so y’know.”
Here’s another problem. Everyone I want to know knows. They are people I trust and they are also people (some of them didn’t) who understand. Because at first no one really understands, not even the people who’ve been diagnosed.
The fact that I had no control or say over this clearly bothered me. It disrupted my life as outlandish as that may be to claim. Though, the reason I use past tense is that I know I cannot dwell. I understand they never thought we’d speak again. I mean hell they can say whatever they want about me and that’s the biggest takeaway.
Of course, I feel outed but it hit me that I am actually contributing to the stigma. Why do I feel so ashamed? Well, it’s because they (the recently informed) have no idea what it means to be Bipolar but who can blame them? At first, neither did I. This doesn’t mean we all have to scream our diagnose(s) from the rooftops. No. It only means that when things like this happen our emotional reactions are completely normal and called for. No one can ever tell you how to feel or tell you, your feelings are wrong. However it is important we don’t dwell. (I am speaking largely to myself.)
It happened. I worried, felt sick to my stomach and I felt weak from the powerless feeling of knowing there are much more out there who have a new angle for judging me. Then I stopped myself and I realized I am proud of who I am. There are going to be a hell of a lot of people who have negative reactions and views on mental illness. I don’t hate them, or curse them, I don’t even like them.
I understand and I am okay with others, not understanding. I also have a new sense of duty and that is to really embrace myself. I am a pretty private person especially in contrast to our ever growing society that revolves around social media. Yet it hit me how important my attitude is towards myself and the mental illness community at large.
As for the relationship ending and the blame being put all on me, I am of course assuming a lot of how the conversation went/ how everyone reacted. Even if everyone thinks the relationship ended solely because of my mental illness well so be it! Life is too short to be concerned with the what ifs and the poor judgments from others. I realize those thoughts are my automatic thoughts when my brain is on autopilot. They are riddled with and with anxiety and self-doubt. They are my fears manifested as the possibility of what others think and/or say about me. In totality, we can all be our own worst enemies from time to time. The only way to truly know is to throw away our assumptions and talk to others. It is unfair to both you and them to talk badly because your instinct is usually, sorta, kinda, most of the time, not always right.
I’ve said it and I’ll say it again. Everyone comes to terms with their illness(es) at varying speeds and intensities. No one should ever feel pressured to be public about it and/or anything about themselves. That right is protected and we deserve respect and privacy.
I don’t plan on making any drastic changes because we can all only handle so much. I admire the advocates who can speak publicly to audiences and spread awareness, I really do. I also admire myself and those of you who make small changes in our own ways.
I see this now as an opportunity rather than a loss. I have the power and advantage to educate others if they so, please. No matter how it turns out I have more control and power over my life than I ever imagined and all that changed was my perspective.