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sonofarex

Telling other people about your condition

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The downside I've found to telling my good friends is that sometimes I get the feeling they're watching me more closely than they would be otherwise, which is annoying. I guess they think I'll suddenly decide to off myself if they're not super-careful. I suspect it's the same feeling a physically handicapped person gets when people are a little too solicitous.

The other downside is the education I've had to give a few times when I get the "Well, you're better now so you don't need those pills anymore, do you?" remark. That's also annoying, but while it ticks me off, I console myself with the thought that I'm doing some good by educating one more person out there.

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I'm also with the "need to know" folks. my other grade level people know, since we work so closely together. They are pretty supportive and cool.

My 'boss' and assistant "boss" are not so cool. i had to tell one because of a couple of manic while working episodes. I th ought the other person knew about my bp but apparently did not and I accidentally outed myself. My assistant boss has never treated me the same.

I also talked to another higher up about something else and thought he already knew what was going on and once again cat out of the bag.

any more I don't tell anyone anything. I agree with another poster who said that people "act like it's contagious'.

its also hard to sit by and listen to people talk about BP who really don't understand it. its like any sudden change in a person's mood and they think that person is bipolar.

it's frustrating

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I've always been totally open. I've never hidden my crazy. It's been helpful to others IRL who've not been out w/their crazy because they've come up to me and asked me questions about meds or doctors. Often about kids because they know that niece and nephew are medicated. Maybe I've been treated poorly for being so open but I've just been so spaced-out as to not notice. I don't really pay much attention to people. Take me as I am or fuck off.  

Which has been only bitten me in the ass once and that was with a doctor (rheumatologist) of all things. He treated me like I had the rage virus or something. Oh well, that's on him. He's an asshole. When the zombies come, he's getting his brain eaten first. heh.

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I've talked in front of groups about my experiences with mi, but I don't tell many other people. My family knows and I have a friend I met at a support group who also has a dx and knows. I worry people will react poorly. It makes it hard to think of things to say in conversations, though. I'm on disability and my children are in school during the day. I do some volunteer activities, like the speaking, but it has to do with mi.

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Oddly enough I think one of the hardest things about telling people about myself is that I'm afraid they won't believe me. Not like it matters if they do or not, but it's still a concern for some reason. I guess I'm pretty high functioning, and when I get into either of the extremes I tend to isolate myself so as to not be a burden on anyone.

Another thing which I'm sure is obvious is the stigmas that are attached with bipolar. Even today I told a coworker that I'm becoming really great friends with, and he said "but I've never seen you freak out". I guess mostly it's not worth explaining to people because I've always been incredibly firm in my belief that I should never use the disorder as an excuse for anything.

Anyone else have some interesting theories or stories about "coming out" as a crazy person?

I could have written all of that myself! I actually logged in today to post about my mother-in-law, who is having a tough time believing that I am bipolar because I "always seem fine" to her. ITA that sharing this diagnosis feels like laying the groundwork for using it as an excuse. I think it's necessary to let some people know so I can best take care of myself, but always worry that it's perceived as asking for undeserved, special treatment.

Bipolarness has laid me low lots of times in my life, but I'm high functioning enough for people to question me when I admit the diagnosis. I try to tell people on a need-to-know basis: family, friends, medical professionals. One side of my family pretends I'm Super Woman to have overcome MI and landed a great life, instead of acknowledging things as they really are. The other side of the family thinks I'm a hypochondriac and that this is the latest evidence of it. I'm very impulsive and have told bosses, coworkers, people at internships while I was in college - I don't think I'll go that route again. In hindsight, it didn't help my situation and I feel it changed their opinions of me. I worked in, and want to return to the mental health field. I think telling would hurt me professionally because of the stigmas attached to bipolar and MI, even among mental health professionals. Perhaps I should say ESPECIALLY among them.

I work very hard to manage my MI and take care of myself in the process. Some medical professionals get weird when I disclose the diagnosis to them. My former primary care physician didn't want to note it in my chart. He got annoyed when I told him I avoid taking certain cold/allergy and sleeping medications because they tend to ramp up my bipolar symptoms. We ended up having one of those, "That's not supposed to happen" conversations. He just didn't think the diagnosis was relevant to being my PCP. As far as I'm concerned, any person who is going to be involved in my medical care needs to know I'm on medications and have a condition that can be sensitive to other meds they might prescribe. I feel like it would be irresponsible not to inform them. I've shared the diagnosis with my current PCP, my midwife's practice, our doula (who helped out postpartum), perinatalogist and pediatrician. Being on meds and having a bipolar diagnosis impacts the things they're helping to take care of. It's probably overkill to tell them, but oh well.

When it comes to "coming out" about having a MI, the situations I like the least are the ones where the person I'm telling "relates" by minimizing bipolar and telling me how much crazier they are: "I scream at my husband, I drink too much wine, my kids think I'm crazy... You're way more sane than me." Then they self-diagnose all kinds of perfectly normal, human things and turn them into what they think sounds like mental illness. That's when I know I've made a mistake in telling some who doesn't get why I shared in the first place. I'm not looking for one-upmanship or a competition. I'd love to say, "Oh, okay. You win. You're ka-razy!"

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I don't really talk about it. When I first found out I told a few people. One of them I thought would understand. But then when I had an issue with something and got worked up (rightfully so lol) all she had to say was that she knows I have "issues" and basically she disregarded my concerns as invalid because she knew about the bipolar. Forget that. So I don't really feel like people need to know since it's just an excuse to invalidate me as a person and disregard any problem I have as being related to my bipolar.

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I used to tell anyone, but I'm more selective now, because I am in school trying to become a nurse and don't want to be viewed as "other" by the teachers/staff. I've told a couple of my classmates, usually because I have been zipping and talking their ear off, or really low and out of it. It's funny that this thread popped up today, because I am going to be speaking with my teacher today about my illness. He is very kind and insightful, and I want to explain to him why this semester has been such a disaster for me (I had him last year and I was doing really well until the very end of the semester). Between my mood states and new medication, I've been a zombie in class, not doing well on tests, and generally the opposite of how I used to be. I want to tell him in part because I need his advice about whether I should out myself to the admissions people, but also because I don't want him to think I've started taking street drugs or something.

One of the stupidest things I've ever heard from someone that I told about my illness was, "Oh, yah, I could tell because of the way you dress." As if the t-shirt and boring skirt I wore to my job at the greenhouse were somehow outlandish... (and that all people with bipolar disorder are craaaaaazzzzeeeee and wear chickens on their heads!) Of course, I often do dress in ridiculous clothes, but I don't think that has to do with my mental health, but just my weird asthetics. Anyway, that comment was one of the reasons I stopped being so open about my MI with people.

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What are you seeking to gain by telling admin ? Simply saying you have been having trouble with a medical condition or disability without naming it is enough. Your doctor can write a note along those lines without disclosing specifics.

nf

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What are you seeking to gain by telling admin ?

I like this teacher on a personal level, and don't like this feeling that I have let him down by not doing as well this semester. Before I disclose exactly my issue, I am going to ask him if he is required to pass medical information on to the admissions team. If he is, I will speak more generally about a medical condition/medications causing me problems.

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I used to tell anyone, but I'm more selective now, because I am in school trying to become a nurse and don't want to be viewed as "other" by the teachers/staff.

I'm in a similar situation, as I work on an inpatient psych unit, and I don't want people to feel like they can't vent and joke in front of me. I do take the opportunity to do some teaching when I get a chance, and to short-circuit the really mean or inaccurate stuff that occasionally comes up. I have had to think about letting my boss know, though. Because I work second shift, I occasionally get mandated to do a double, which means staying overnight. This is a HUGE trigger and takes me days to recover from. I've talked to my pdoc about writing a note that I can't do overnights, and she's agreed she will if I want it. But I'd rather not disclose, so so far I've just dealt with it.

A very good reason for being out as MI is the same as being out as gay: people realize they know one of us, and we're not scary or foreign or way different from them. If most people knew how many MI people they interact with each day, it'd probably floor them.

That said, I am only selectively out. Two friends at work know; a couple of other close friends; and one family member. It just doesn't feel safe to be more open about it than that.

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A very good reason for being out as MI is the same as being out as gay: people realize they know one of us, and we're not scary or foreign or way different from them. If most people knew how many MI people they interact with each day, it'd probably floor them.

Yes, exactly. That is my main reason for being pretty open with people, because it is part of who I am, and I don't want to feel as if I have to hide my true self. And damnit, if I had diabetes, I wouldn't even have to consider being "in the closet" about it! Sheesh. So yah, letting people know it is a medical condition like any other is very important.

My teacher today was great-- just as I thought he would be. He not only was non-judgemental (even though his ex-SIL often went apeshit crazy during manias, he understands that isn't how it always is), but he gave me some great advice about applying to the program I want to get into. I'm much more hopeful about my chances now...

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I guess one of my concerns - and I have had this happen - is that someone will dismiss me as "oh you're just manic" or "you're just depressed" at times when I'm neither! And you're not going to convince the other person that they're mistaken, because of course they know your moods and mental states so much better than you do. This is not only frustrating, it can have real-life consequences if people dismiss your concerns because they think you're "not in your right mind."

That said, being more open is definitely a worthy goal.

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And dedoubt, way to go! Good on you for taking that step and I'm glad it worked out well.

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I don't bring it up until a friendship evolves to the point where I would really, really be going out of my way to hide it. I hate telling people. It makes me feel uncomfortable because of the stigma. I actually am far more open with telling people of my substance abuse than my mental illness. Most, if not all of my friends who "know" are very supportive and don't bring the topic up unnecessarily often, which is great.

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Tough question....but I just had to out myself to my supervisor since she audited a class when I was lith toxic, among other things. It didn't help my eval, but it led to a discussion that tells me............k, someone with experience in dyslexia and epilepsy knows, and they can cover. Otherwise its an as needed basis..................people can freak you out with unexpected reactions both good and bad.............so , yeah, telling people is still a problem, but, maybe I'm getting better at telling people who NEED to know. And who among friends can handle it .................

peace

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I've had the "disclose or don't disclose" debate running inside my head since I started my current job last year. My immediate manager is a very kind person, and I came this >< close to telling her so as to explain some of my behaviour. However, yesterday she told me something extremely personal about another colleague, totally inappropriately in fact, as it was definitely something that I didn't need to know. So I'm relieved that I never had the "I'm bipolar" conversation with her, but frustrated in a sense too. I guess that on some level I would like to have it acknowledged that the fact that I show up for work (and have recently earned a promotion) and do my job is actually often one big bloody miracle.

eta when I went through my first spate of hospitalisations - 5x between April 2003 and October 2004 (some of which were drug rehab) I wound up telling my immediate family out of necessity. Since then I've massively toned down any information I give them (including about subsequent hospitalisations) because I started getting a lot of "why do you need so much medication and treatment; you should be able to cope on your own" type comments. Similarly with the few close friends who I told. One in particular tried to understand, or so I thought until a few months ago he asked something about why I carry on "expecting" people to solve my problems for me. So essentially the only safe support systems I feel I have are pdoc, tdoc and online.

Edited by miab

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Guest zazie

I have told one friend, who is "out" about her own condition. I bet there are a lot of other people telling her about themselves, too!

I admire those people who are strong and confident enough to be "out" and act as an inspiration to others, but I am completely in the closet myself.

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Very few people know about it... my closest friend, good friend at work, my parents and husband. That's it. I regret telling my friend at work because even though she won't say anything, she treats me a little differently, like she thinks everything is going to affect me negatively. But at the time my moods were very unstable and I had to let her in on it

My husband, although he is understanding about it, he doesn't "get it" enough to tell whether I'm manic or depressed, especially if I'm agitated. It all falls into the category of miserable to him. :wall:

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I guess that on some level I would like to have it acknowledged that the fact that I show up for work...and do my job is actually often one big bloody miracle.

Ain't it the truth! Especially since I work on a psych unit and often hear a lot of speculation from my co-workers about whether people with serious MI can or can't work and lead normal lives. I wanna say, "Hellooo? WTF am I doing?" But I leave it alone. It's a combination of wanting to be seen as capable but also knowing how much freaking effort it takes just to do that.

Edited by zenbean

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