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Are you OUT of the bipolar closet?


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Hi there,

I've recently got involved in an incident at work, where I yelled at my superior after being criticized, that was largely because I was hyper and paranoid. I felt bad afterwards for not being able to control my temper and being inappropriate. I know my MI doesn't excuse my behavior but sometimes, I can't control it due to my MI. it can be pretty disruptive, specially at work. I wondered...does being out of the MI closet help or harm your position at work/with friends/family members????

Are we protecting ourselves by hiding it, or doing a disservice to others by not educating them on bipolar disorder and other illnesses and providing a good role model and reference?

I am LGBT and am out everywhere. I feel that being out has actually protected me more than harmed me. People keep their prejudices to themselves around me and if they do not like it, I never get to find out. They actually respect me a lot. Now, I feel that if I disclose my illness - things might be worse...but it would certainly explain my odd behavior at times...

well, sorry if this sounds confusing - my mind is going to pots!

thanks

P

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With close friends (emphasis on 'close') and family, yes, definitely. Even though I know my friends are generally much brighter than average, I've still had to do a lot of education, and the reason I hang out here so much is because I know that no one who hasn't been through it won't really ever understand.

At work, no, not at all, even with friends from work that I see outside of work. But I work in a very conservative industry and found out the hard way that disclosing my MI at work could cost me my job. It's a long story, but I lost a great job because of it, and then went into a nasty and long depressive episode as a result. So now I keep my mouth shut.

Others here have met a more welcoming attitude at work so I think it depends a lot on your job. But there are ignorant people everywhere. I would prefer to be more open, but I can't afford to as I am my sole source of support, and I'm 51, so a new career is much less likely to be a success at this point.

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Nope. I keep my mouth shut. As it is, I'm "quirky, bright, and a bit volatile". If I tell people, then I'm 'crazy, unpredictable and a possible liability". Work is the last place I would tell people.

I've told one friend who roomed with me last year while he was changing jobs, (there was going to be no way to hide the medicine piles and the fact I wasn't working), and about half my extended family. Oh, and I've been dx'd dlfor 6.5 years.

Everyone handles it differently.

a.m.

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I dont disclose that to anyone but near friends and family. i have had people figure it out cuz...well...i can go batshit when not on meds. On meds no one knoews i am the chipper, quirky nice girl.

I think i would keep it to myself. MI carries a stigma still, and it can make things weird.

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My family and very close friends know and I'm fine with that. I need their support. I am not currently working (by choice) but when I did I would have never disclosed my MI. I'm almost certain it would have cost me my job due to it's requirements for employment. Plus, even if it didn't it's a very conservative organization so that might have gotten me instead.

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Guest Vapourware

I've been pretty lucky in that whenever I have disclosed, it has never bitten me in the ass - but I'm also highly aware that once information is out there, you can't rescind it. Having sensitive information out like having a MI makes you highly vulnerable and a part of me isn't comfortable about having that sort of information out there. Still, I've put out that information before and it does feel better knowing that I'm not actively hiding anything.

In my social work placement, I was obliged to provide information to my supervisor and to the university that I have a MI, and it's actually been beneficial because they've been happy to work with me on some of my quirks. For instance, I've been having some sedation issues with my medication and my supervisor has understood why because I've been able to tell him. Otherwise, if I was keeping it quiet, he may have been left a bit concerned at why his student was appearing like a space cadet.

Some very close friends, my boyfriend and my very immediate family know that I have a MI, and that's more for my sake in some ways because they can offer some feedback if I start to get unwell.

I guess it all depends on who you tell and under what circumstances. I wouldn't be telling everyone that I know that I have a MI. It'll be on a need-to-know basis.

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I have seen friends shunned or misunderstood by friends and colleagues when they came out about their MI. I don't work in a field that is very understanding about this. I'm hesitant to come out about mine because once out of the closet, you can't change your mind and go back in. My husband knows, and my sister knows, but I have not told any other family members -- my mother would just feel guilty and it would serve no purpose. I've told two close friends, and only told them because I needed practical help with some things while I was not stable, and it really helped to explain what was going on with me. I've also told a few people I know who are out about their own MI, usually because they've had manic episodes while working and had to be hospitalized and everyone found out that way.

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No, I wouldn't go out of the closet if I was working, I like the others would not appreciate the stigma surrounding a dx of BP II, most people just assume crazy = dangerous or a liability and if you want to keep a job I think it's better to protect yourself. We have a member here who comes to chat a lot and she shared how she felt her bosses discriminated against her and then pushed her to quit. That's wrong of course and NORMALLY I would bear down and fight against discrimnation, but I just don't feel comfortable doing that with regard to MI. Now my son is autistic so with regard to his disability and my own physicaly one, I fight against discrimination whenver it rears its ugly head. I hope that youre able to do what's best for yourself without making yourself too vulnerable at work. Welcome to the board persephone! :)

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I haven't told people at work (past employment either), nor will I ever tell them, but my parents know, my close friends know, and my boyfriend knows. I don't tell people right away unless I think it's important or think it will go over okay.

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My family knows, immediate and part of the extended. Since my uncle had bipolar, I shared mostly for info about him. It was not a big deal.

We used to have a telecommuting program at work. I did in the mornings. It helped a lot because I had a hard time coordinating and got sick at times due to meds. When they ended the program (stupid new mgt), I went to the accommodation office with a note from my doctor to continue. The accommodation office is supposed to be highly confidential under certain state and federal laws. Idk if that holds in reporting program status to senior management. I hope so. I would not tell my boss or bosses going up the food chain. It's unlikely that I'd tell coworkers, either, although I did tell three a few years ago when I was pretty hypomanic. Just couldn't keep my mouth shut.... Turned out all had MI in the family including BP. Two have since retired which somehow makes me feel better.

Three close friends know. Two were good to tell, one splits between understanding and thinking I should just get my shit together. That has not felt good and makes me reluctant to tell anyone else.

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As I said earlier, I don't tell anyone at work. But I must admit I fantasize about my last day before retirement (not too many years away, now) when I will make an announcement that everyone has been working with a crazy person all along.

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Very few people know. A couple close friends, immediate family, and that's about it. I don't work, but if I did, I doubt I would tell.

So far, responses have been very considerate. But I'm careful who I share with - I'm not about to tell certain extended family members because I just don't want to deal with their reactions.

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While I don't have BP NOS branded on my forehead, I am completely out. The only variable is that I don't usually disclose to an employer until I need accommodations, but depending on the job, I might disclose earlier. I want them to hire me, so I won't bring it up in an interview. But I know enough about disability law to know that once I do disclose, I have options, so I am not very worried about it.

Although, before the ADA, I am pretty sure I lost a job because I was out. I think I got "laid off" from a teaching position after the disclosure: When I informed the Academic Dean (private school) in case I needed coverage, it was too late for them to act that year. I had already signed my contract for the next year. The reason I put "laid off" in quotation marks is I just *happened* to be the only person laid off on the faculty, despite having seniority over other teachers in my own department.

And I wasn't totally out when I filled in my Bar Application. Let's leave it at that, that has legal muck surrounding it.

But those situations actually were part of the reason I came out.

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I've lost both friends and a good job by being out. I'm not working, so I don't have any boss to tell about my BP, but if I was, I'd keep my mouth shut at the workplace.

Friends, I tend to tell them pretty soon after initially getting to know them better. I do it so there's no incidents of me popping out the information after a 3 year friendship. The friends I have would get upset if I didn't tell them right away.

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Well, the only person I've hid it from was my boss. I had to call off work because I was in the nuthouse, so I told him I had a "non-contagious bacterial infection and they're not letting me leave."

They let me out at 12pm on Saturday. Six hours later, I was waiting tables.

I'm open about BP for two reasons:

1) I have no shame. Being a little nutty has always been a part of me, my identity. Now I have a name for it.

2) I don't want others to have shame. BP isn't always a bad thing, and it doesn't make us bad people. I love the feeling of meeting someone with MI because I was brave enough to share. My candor is contagious.

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I don't shout it from the rooftops, but I don't hide it under a rock either. I have a lot of issues surrounding me and my ability to fully function from day to day. Some of them are physical and some of them are mental. I can't hide that there is something "wrong" with me. If I'm honest about the physical, I might as well be about the mental. Besides, I've been carrying this load the longest (20+ years) so I'm used to it. Those who know me, including bosses and friends, know I'm not going to go on a killing spree even at my worst so they have nothing to fear. Those who don't know me can chose to think what they will and either get to know me or good riddance. I don't want their drama anyway.

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The topic heading is interesting. Connotes homosexuality. But I can come out of the closet and the person I

inform won't know what it means to be MI. And, I'm not saying that being homosexual is any easier.

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I keep everything as top secret as possible, and that included friends. But i realized that i want to be able to go to my friends if i had to. Or just the thought that i could if i wanted to. So i don't feel so alone with it. And then they don't get it when i run away home. I just look rude. So this weekend i told my two new best friends, and they were so awesome! I have worked so hard at keeping it a secret, they didn't even realize! They said thats its me, its who I am. I don't make excuses for my behavior and i do take responsibility for my actions. But they said no more lies! If i am going through something, thats what friends are for. I should have told them a while ago, it wouldn't have changed a thing.

It was an amazing feeling!

But at work, i still think its a hush hush situation!!!!!! you got to be careful there!

xox

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