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hiya-

one of my depressed friends actually just asked me how i go about telling new friends about my disorder. i've actually never thought of a 'how to' before. i told him that it is different for everyone, but generally i'll just tell them that sometimes i'm higher and sometimes i'm lower, and usually they won't notice it but if they do, tell me.

how do you tell people that you're a bipolar nutjob? is there a certain point in your relationship when you know it is the right time, do you just spill it in the beginning, or kinda wait until they notice how much medication you take before you explain why you take all that medication? (i actually did that once. my friend was so curious about my meds that she actually asked me why i needed meds. i wasn't offended- i told her- it turned out to be a good way to tell her).

does anyone have a methodology? case studies? any advice on it i can offer my friend that i haven't thought of?

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I'll second that. I don't tell. And besides, even when you do, I find people still hold you responsible for your actions and intentions. But I've no doubt that when it's convenient, they'll use your bp dx to write you away. Sometimes it's innocent, like a white lie.

Bp is still who you are. Personality does overlap. It's very tempting to tell, to share.

7

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I don't disclose to too many people, being fairly stable on meds I don't feel there is a need to. I did finally disclose to my boss the other day because she was wondering why I had used up all my sick days already this year and why I was taking so many pills at work. She was very understanding and has been way nicer to me since. I doubt every situation is like that though.

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I don't feel the need to disclose the fact that I'm bipolar. I'm naturally a very private person, and unless my back is against a wall, I don't talk much about myself to others. My boss knows, however, I didn't disclose to her until I had worked for her for over two years. We became very close friends, and it came up in conversation that her mother was bipolar. I just decided at that moment to spill, and since I am stable on my meds, she was more surprised that anything.

As for others--only my parents and my brother knows.

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I generally don't tell, either. I told tons of people as soon as I got my dx - I was still manic - and most of them didn't know how to take it. A combination of concern and fear that made my stomach churn. So now I don't tell, unless I already have a promising outlook on how the revelation will be taken. If I tell, it's probably out of necessity - like Anelize said, if I'm up against a wall.

I don't really talk much about how my treatment is going, either. My best friend knows about my illness but I don't share with her details of appointments and specific struggles or triumphs relating to my illness. She gets the abstract of how I'm doing/feeling, and that's about it. I've become a fairly private person, too, I guess.

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so far i've told him your views about not sharing, and also the view that everyone has their ups and downs, and friendship (the real kind, not just any person on the street) will grow when there is disclosure, just because it is personal and personal things can bring people together. but it could backfire. that's basically what i've said so far. he's afraid that his friends won't see him as the rock of the group anymore. i told him it is ok to be vunerable. maybe this is all from a girl's point of view- but many of you other women have expressed the 'don't tell' view too.

he's afraid to get treatment. i told him that unless he gets treatment that he can't be at his best for his family and other people, let alone himself. he's against psych meds and wants to see a tdoc. i've tried to guide him to a few good ones in this area.

other ideas are very welcome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I don't tell work people unless I have too. I usually write symptoms off as anxiety, caffeine jitters, or not sleeping. I'm going to disclose to my boss this week because I would rather be thought of as crazy than unreliable, but it took me 3 years to get to that point. Of course, I'm also looking for some potential accomidations (if necessary) so disclosure seems like a good idea right now.

With friends it's different, my closest friends have been a part of my life for 6+ years. They're a cool bunch of people who are educated and accepting. I intially disclosed depression, then anxiety, then bipolar. Of course, that was the order of my diagnosis:) It's handy to have people who know what is going on in case I have to call in the middle of the night for a fun trip to the ER. Also, they can point out to me when I start to go a bit too fast, or when I'm hiding out in my house for weeks on end.

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we need crazy bumper stickers!

i like what you said, Alissha, that we can't tell people at work unless we must, but also that our friends (friends, not people off the street) should have some kind of heads-up, in case we need that fun ER trip (been there, done that), or are being weird symptom-wise. it is always good to have someone say 'uh, hey, i haven't seen you in a month!'

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I told everybody in our Bible study and they've been very good about it. Although last night somebody was telling me about this great do-it-at-home shock therapy that's supposed to be really good. But other than having to listen to that, people treat me well. Sometimes Christians can be the worst with this type of stuff (you don't have enough faith, it's of the devil etc.) but this is a good group. I tell them so that they can pray for me as a group which is important to me.

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I NEVER EVER tell work people (when I have a job) about being BP or having Crohn's. I have been burned way too many times--even had a nurse manager who apparently thought BP was catching and told me not to tellmy co=workers when I confided in her because of my pdoc appts.

When there is someone who needs to know, I discuss it in exactly the same tone and to the same degree as I do my chronic physical disorder, also incurable and prone to cause occasional problems (the Crohn"s) If you discuss your mental disorders in the same way and at the same time, to the same poeple as you do your physical disorders, it takes the emphasis off of being ":special"--mentally interesting.

We tend to create problems sometimes when we don't need to--we have chemical, bipological disorders just like diabetes, or Crohn's, or rheumatoid arthritis. Nothing more--nothing less. We make a big deal ouit of being BP when we MAKE a big deal of it--does that make sense??

Now--back to my beloved Yellow Jackets as they slaughter a helpless Virginia team--

UP WITH THE WHITE AND GOLD!!

China, daughter of a Ramblin Wreck, class of 1937!!

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I don't tell anyone unless the time is right and the person deserves to know (ie good friends). Some people don't need to know at all. I'm lucky to work in an environment that allows for the occasional panic attack or mixed episode. I agree with china in that we tend to create problems where there were none.

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It seems I am in the minority here.

I think most of the people I work with know I'm bipolar. I've disclosed it to quite a few. I haven't told my boss but I think it is unlikely that so many people know and she doesn't. I don't broadcast it, but I don't avoid it, either.

Here is why: Mental illness has a stigma associated with it. This stigma will not go away until people start treating bipolar disorder like any other illness. So I do. This is particularly important to me because I'm a teacher and I know of 8 kids in my school who are bipolar. People don't understand why these kids act the way they do. They need an advocate. People have been amazingly cool about it.

I feel that it is one of the things I can do to make this world a little better place for the other mentally interesting people in the world. The way to do this is to educate the neuro-typicals about bipolar disorder. I have three causes in my life: responsible pet ownership, education, and mental illness.

Of course, I've been stable for the past three years. I don't have any symptoms of bipolar disorder that are any worse than PMS. Even when I was crazy I somehow managed to keep myself together at work; it was only my personal life that went to pieces.

I can understand why people don't tell. There is a good chance that this might bite me in the butt someday. It is a risk I'm willing to take.

As for my personal life: I think most of my friends know because most of my friends are friends from work. My family has always been super supportive. I just started dating a guy. He doesn't know yet, but I plan on telling him soon. That makes me a bit nervous, but it wouldn't be fair of me to not tell him. I am into indie film making and I haven't told anybody in that community and don't really plan to. If it comes up somehow, it does, and I'll deal with it then. I don't directly mention it on my MySpace page, either.

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Artchick,

I think the way you handle it is great! It takes lots of courage and self-confidence to self-disclose. There definitely needs to be more people like you who advocate for people with mental illness. People need to be aware that just because a person has bipolar they can lead normal, productive lives.

I feel like a coward everytime I miss an opportunity to "come out" and educate someone about the illness, instead I hide behind the shame.

Ex. I am a Family Nurse Practitioner Student. The other day my preceptor, who is an MD, picked up a brochure for abilify and it showed a picture of a family outdoors having a picnic, they looked like "the perfect family." He showed it to me and said, "this is a joke, do you really think someone with bipolar could look like this?" I said yes. He then told me I hadn't been around enough people with bipolar and that with time and experience I would see that this was not possible. I told him I was very educated on bipolar disorder (told him it was something I had written a paper on) and that if people are compliant and take their meds they can be productive members of society. His response was that sure, they can be real productive, when they are manic. He said he had never known of anyone with bipolar disorder that lead a productive life. "They all end up in jail." ;)

I asked him if he knew who Dr. Jessie Jamison was, he didn't. So I told him a little about her. He asked if I had ever thought about going into the psychiatirc field of medicine since I had such a passion for it. I told him no, never. (Way too close to home!)

You wouldn't believe how bad I wanted to tell him I had bipolar disorder. But then, everything I did in the office would be under a microscope, and I knew he would never look at me the same way. I am also hoping to get a job with him after I graduate. So for now, my philosophy is "Not everyone is worthy of my truth" ~Mark Twain.

I even asked my pdoc about this at my last appointment, which was just the day before this conversation took place. I asked her if she thought I when I graduate I needed to tell the doctor that I would be working with that I had bipolar. She didn't hesitate to say, "No, don't tell them. It will make it more difficult on you."

I actually suspect that my pdoc has bipolar, and even asked her point blank one time if she did. She said no.

I have been a RN since 1992 and I believe that the medical community, excluding the people who work in psych, are often the most ignorant on this disorder. I guess hearing their comments throughout the years, even before I was diagnosed, has caused me to hide it.

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artchick and NOTCRAZY- i think that your disclosure, artchick, is great because you are in the remission stage of your treatment and are not acting like a crazy loon. you're more like the abilify ads- sitting in the sun, happy with family and friends, the furthest away from the nuthouse you can get.

on the other hand, those who are not in remission yet may not want to disclose, for fear of being judged and also fear of giving bp a bad reputation.

it is sick that a doctor of all people is so narrow-minded and petty. remind me to stay away from him. my doctors are the first people i disclose to. after all, they see my mile-long list of meds! lol

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Selective disclosure.

I more or less tell everyone who it seems will be living in my world. I guess I figure they deserve fair warning for some of the odd crap I can come up with. Plus, I'm sporting a goodly amount of scars from self-harming and I like to put people at ease about that as opposed to them making assumptions. If they chose to run for the hills, well, so be it.

As for work... that's more difficult. I work in medical education and some of our clients are Lilly and the like. I would like to be more open, but haven't quite figured out when and how. I know my boss will be cool, it's just that some of my staff might not be. I also have to be careful of showing bias for clients drugs. I do try to set people straight on the fact that there isn't one, single miracle drug that works for everyone and it would be unethical to make claims that there is. When I do, see the... "and how would you know?" looks. I think some people are on to me already.

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I've found that I come off sufficiently "normal" to most people that it's a moot point.

Otherwise, they just think I'm a bit eccentric (which is not untrue).

But often, out of the blue, the other person will tell me that s/he has struggled with (usually) depression and (often) OCD at some point in their lifetimes. I seem to attract those two types. =P

So if one person will discuss their problems with me, I'll gladly tell them what's wrong with me.

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I have found that people may act like they're taking disclosure okay, and be supportive, but then tone down the friendship. Some people are sensitive to the social rule that says you shouldn't discriminate based on MI, so they give the appearance of acceptance while finding ways to give themselves a legitimate-appearing exit from the relationship.

One of my former friends attributes her gradual exit from our friendship to my being "acting distant and standoffish around the time I told people I was diagnosed". Shortly after being diagnosed bp, I became so depressed I was unable to manage opening packages of food to feed myself, and I'm sure I withdrew from people as well. It's not socially acceptable to ditch someone when they're severely bad off, but if you can argue that they started treating *you* badly for a reason they could have controlled - like if you responded to your diagnosis by becoming uninterested in normal people - then you can exit without guilt or social consequences.

Incidentally, this friend takes medication for dysthymia, as does her sister and one of our mutual friends. Just because someone else is MI doesn't mean they won't respond badly to finding out you are.

Herrfous, additional info re the quote in your sig: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor

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I am now dealing with the application to have my RN liscense moved to Fla. One of the questions is "have you ever in the last 5 years been treated for or had a recurrence of any diagnosed mental disorder or impairment?"

I checked no--I always do on applications and stuff---and now hubby has decided they will find out and throw me out and I have fucked up, "as usual"

I don't mind telling them about the back surgery--and I have to get a letter from my ortho to send them, whic has held things up for another 4-6 weeks--but I am so leery about the psych thing.

Probably wrong move--as usual--

Sigh--

china

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i'm wondering if i should tell my bosses, cuz i have been wicked weird, and i dunno, maybe i'd get fired if they didnt know, maybe i would if i did? coudl i sue them for discrimination if they fired me for being bp? i'm not even sure what is wrong with me, but current pdoc thinks, maybe bp-spectrum somewhere. gah.

i dont tell anyone i am crazy cuz i can usually pass. they just think i am an asshole. but people who klnow i am crazy think i am an asshole too. hmm maybe doesn't matter.

i dont know.

i just know its scary.

good food for thought here.

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China,

I can understand what you're going through. Every yr when I reapply for my nsg lisence I always agonize over that question, and eventually end up checking the NO box.

I recently found out that the state I live in is now requiring new RN apps to have a psych eval before giving them their lisence. The RNA has to pay for the eval and the BON chooses the person they will see.

If mental illness is truely to be seen as any other chronic "medical condition", then it would only seem fair to include questions about other medical disorders that could affect your work, like:

In the past five years have you ever had angina?

In the past five years have you ever had a seizure?

In the past five years have you ever had a migraine?

In the past five years have you ever had a TIA?

In the past five years have you expereienced hypoglycemia?

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. I think that to ask about mental illness is discriminatory. But as you know, it is the BON's duty to protect the public, not the nurse.

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I tend to tell people. I've lost some friends but fuck them.

Some people have seen me flip (psychosis/mixed state/panic attack) and were quite freaked out, but they've stuck around. Real friends. Some people have seen me manic, but usually the response is "What the fuck has she been smoking? I want some!).

I always tell my teachers. They've been understanding so far. I haven't had an episode in school (yet), but it's comforting to know that they'll know what's up if something happens.

Wouldn't tell the people at my last job though.

When I'm not comfortable sharing everything I always say depression There's not too much stigma associated with that.

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At work, only my boss knows, because she had to bring me some paperwork the first time I was in the nuthouse. Also she has to approve my leaving for appointments every Friday with my tdoc and once a month with my pdoc.

A few coworkers know I have suffered from depression from when that was my diagnosis, but not many.

Tommy

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i'm getting the feeling from you guys that if you are in a position with someone where they need to know/must know, or it would be very beneficial for them to know, you'll tell them. otherwise, you either tell no one at all, or do not care who knows.

i think for me i've gotten all of the above responses, and gone through (by now, after having my DX for 21 years and i'm 28) all of the stages of tell/not tell/tell sometimes, i'm now falling into the realm of "tell sometimes". i don't give a shit about people at work, because i'm on SSDI and don't have coworkers anymore. i could give a shit about a bus driver who looks at my disabled bus pass and asks me what my problem is, i just say "bp with psychotic symptoms", and that shuts them down REALLY fast! they're kinda afraid after that ;)

i tell all people who may be in a position to be effected by my disorder, like my friends and family. if friends leave, and they have, then i agree with helena- fuck them! they need to know in order to help me with it. if they choose to be slime then they choose to be slime. my family is crazy too but my mom feels my problem is hormonal, despite her being bipolar too (this is a point of contention for us...!!!) :)

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I've fallen into the "tell sometimes" role by default.

I am not allowed to do my job with this diagnosis until my "package" has undergone a medical review by a board (I'm in the military). So, my supervision has decided to sit me in the snack bar to run it for eight hours a day as my job during this board process. Naturally at first, every other person that came in asked why I was running snack bar and not out working doing my regular job.

At first I tried to just say I was medically restricted, but this just evoked more curiosity and if I tried to talk around it, it made it "mysterious" and "interesting" so I finally just gave up and started saying "bipolar." I don't think most of the even heard anything else after the "bipolar" part.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Heya,

Here's a new one for me.

The local pharmacist and I have a small-town thing (There's only three, and she's IMHO the best of the three).

I saw her for her rotator cuff injury.

She confidentially fills my Rxs for Lamictal and Seroquel.

She's not stupid. We share lots of psych patients. She knows what that combo adds up to!

Meh. At least I have no kids in school with hers. ;)

--ncc--

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