Most of the people who know me in real life and online will probably agree that I’m an over sharer. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and completely break down at least once a month. I don’t attend parties sometimes because I scared of having a panic attack.
Ok, back on track… almost all of my friends and family know I have a mental illness. Don’t worry, I won’t give anyone my life story when I first meet them. It definitely does take time… unless other people spread it around. When I feel comfortable with you and consider you my friend, I will tell you.
So, why, do you ask, do I share this side of me. Because I feel that it is better to nip things at the bud instead of having this amazing friendship with someone and them finding out when I go to the hospital, or see my medication container, or many other things. I did hide once with a friendship and when I told them about it, they got upset bc they thought we could share everything. I want to avoid this in the future. So, I make sure that if you’re a good friend I will tell you bc I don’t want that situation to happen again. If you turn your backs on me or make fun of me, you weren’t destined to be my friend, and I accept that.
Then, my diagnoses changed. All of my friends were told that I have Bipolar 1. The entire diagnoses is Bipolar 1 with psychotic features. So, I suppose I understand how you are trying to cope with the psychosis part of my illness, when you never new I had been suffering with it since I was 15. At first I told a handful of friends about the new diagnosis and that I had the most horrible social anxiety that was keeping me home even though I wanted to go out. I was going to tell people slowly, and at my own pace. Someone, however, told all of my friends with their bias clouding the truth.
You probably think that I shouldn’t let people know anymore. I can’t do that. I need to make sure that the person or people I let in don’t care about what my illness is called, and that they will always be there. I HAVE found a few, but mostly, I’m left to a small group of friends that are the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I’m ok with that. Quality over quantity. It’s been a punch in my gut dealing with things, but when I started following that, I realized that I do have some wonderful friends.
And it’s not just with my friends. It’s with the world. I do not look like I have a mental illness, no matter how severe it actually is. That is due to the ridiculous amount of medications I take (if you want to know, it’s 7). Of course, a lot of people have told me that they want proof bc they didn’t believe me. That is a horrible feeling. And it just goes to show that stigma runs rampant within the mental health community.
So, I do not hide. If you are uncomfortable with me or what I say, you have the right to feel that way, but I probably won’t go to you for advice, and you probably will not get texts or phone calls from me.
I tried lying once to certain people bc I didn’t want to hear what they had to say about me. Of course, the cat came out of the bag, I ended up being completely nuerotic about it and I stayed in my bed for three days. If I had been honest with this person from the beginning, I would have known what to expect. Another reason why hiding isn’t good for me.
Of course, there are times I have to shut up about it, like at work or with relatives I don’t really know. I generally just stay quiet just so I won’t be judged.
So do whatever you feel is best for you. My approach will not work for everyone, and I realize that. Some people are surrounded by people who will become harsh and ridicule them. Others will have people that blatantly ignore it. My only hope is that somehow, someday, we won’t be so afraid.