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Aaaaah, they all know, they all know (telling people about your MI and stigma)


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How do people here feel about talking about your MI?

 

I think I still struggle with the stigma, which was especially strong since I was hospitalized when living in a small town, so everyone around knew I was 'the crazy person' and treated me accordingly. I have told a few friends after I have known them for a while, I never really had any bad reaction, but still, I fear the stigma.

 

Then, with some people, I get the feeling that they know I am BP, and I get terrible paranoid when they bring up topics somehow related to MI, especially for people I know from work. There is someone I work with quite closely but have also kind of become friends with, and with that person I do have a very strong case of 'aaaah, they all know I am crazy' paranoia. I haven't told that person, even though topics have come up that would have made it quite easy. Often I am afraid that people will think I am some kind of a burden, someone that they'll have to worry about, and I hate to be a burden. I'm also afraid that people will think I am less capable (even though I am doing well).  I also think that ideally if more people would just be more open about MI, the stigma would be less strong, but I'm really afraid to be open about it myself. I just wish I could be more confident about it. 

 

 

 

 

 

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How do people here feel about talking about your MI?

 

It depends on who I am talking to.  In general though, I tend to keep things to myself because it really is no one's business.  It is hard to tell whether the person I am in conversation with will judge or not.

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Growing up, I never told people. After a while I started to tell people a little and they reacted badly. Then I told them I had (insert *most current socially acceptable diagnosis at the time* here), and that still didn't work. I've got to the point in my life where I don't care if people "get it", so I don't say anything except maybe "yeah, I'm weird" or "I have issues (laugh)". Because in reality, no matter how you explain things to most people they still don't get it. You could give them a whole psychological profile of *whatever* you are explaining and they will still look at you like you are crazy & need to be taken less seriously.

 

So basically, it is not worth the time & energy. As long as I am getting the help I need it doesn't matter, because it really doesn't change anything.

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Nah. I don't feel good at all about it. I feel the need, often, to explain in great detail that while I am kinda crazy at times, I'm still a good person with a relatively good head on my shoulders, as messed up as it is.

 

I don't say much. I don't know a person in my life that can understand this at all. And I can't make them understand the symptoms, the mood shit, any of it. 

 

Best thing someone who doesn't get it can do when I'm having issues and venting? Say this;  "I don't know what to say, I wish I could help." that's it. The perfect thing to say. No stupid, offensive advice or comments, simply that. I can't talk about it much because fairly normal people usually have a lot of trouble coming up with something to say. I don't want to put people in that position. It's awkward for them.

 

I tell them I'm bipolar, and it's not like they think it is, most likely. But that's about it. I don't really know how else to do this.

 

A lot of people know now since I've acted pretty off in the past. I tried not to tell everyone, or anyone, but it became something I felt I needed to at least explain. They already knew I was a bit nuts, just not what kind, I guess.

 

I regret telling people a lot. Even those closest to me. But what am I to do/say when there's a strong possibility that I'll have to visit the psych ward? I only bring it up if it's serious and everyone already knows there's something weird going on.

 

I think they find me crazier than I feel I actually am. I'm no longer annoyed by this. Just a bit tired of it is all. 

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I don't bring up my mental illness, but if the topic comes up and I'm with the right kind of people, I'll usually tell them I have schizoaffective, and I explain it as a mixture of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

 

I actually also do public speaking about what it's like like to live with schizoaffective disorder. I speak at public events and I will be speaking in classrooms starting in September, for kids aged 12-16. I tell my story of what it's like to live with a mental illness. 

 

I worry sometimes about lost opportunities due to stigma, but really, I don't want those opportunities then. 

 

I fight stigma as much as possible, because I believe the only way to fight it is to be honest about it. I respect people who don't want to say anything though, because it's your personal health information, not everyone's business. I can see why some people don't share. 

Edited by Parapluie
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Because I've been hospitalised so many times a fair amount of people know about my MI. I have mixed feelings about that, and sometimes wonder if it affects how they see it, but not much I can do about it. Some of my friends joke about it, but I don't tend to discuss it in detail with any of them. And I wouldn't tell anyone else until I knew them pretty well - the most I will say is "I've not been well"

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I don't have a bumper sticker on my car, but I am "out," in general. So if it comes up, especially if they are saying something stupid, I disclose, and try to correct their theories that they pulled out of their asses.

 

Of course, since I haven't worked full time in almost 15 years, and am now on disability, I can afford any backlash.

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If you don't feel like telling other people that's fine.  But I will say that not telling people because you are afraid, maynot be the best choice.  In general, actions that are born out of fear, tend to not be the best policies.  I'm pretty much out in the open about the subject and I find that it doesn't cause me much more grief that I would generally get, given the ambient "asshole index*".   

 

I've found that the amount of grief I get for not hiding my MI is less than the amount of effort I would have to go through to hide it.  

 

But whatever decision you make, the one person who must not be biased because of your MI is yourself.

 

 

*The asshole index, is the amount of grief that you would get off any group of people just given the number of assholes in the group and how obnoxious the assholes are.  The higher the index, the more grief you would receive over simple things such as the color of shirt you wear. 

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If you don't feel like telling other people that's fine.  But I will say that not telling people because you are afraid, maynot be the best choice.  In general, actions that are born out of fear, tend to not be the best policies.  I'm pretty much out in the open about the subject and I find that it doesn't cause me much more grief that I would generally get, given the ambient "asshole index*".   

 

I've found that the amount of grief I get for not hiding my MI is less than the amount of effort I would have to go through to hide it.  

 

But whatever decision you make, the one person who must not be biased because of your MI is yourself.

 

 

*The asshole index, is the amount of grief that you would get off any group of people just given the number of assholes in the group and how obnoxious the assholes are.  The higher the index, the more grief you would receive over simple things such as the color of shirt you wear. 

 

Ha ha! Asshole index. That's pretty cool.

 

I actually agree with this post at this point in my life, pretty much. And the asshole index thing which was THE thing that made me not want to tell people. I don't give a fuck if you think I'm crazy, I'd rather not hear your annoying stereotypes and be annoyed that there are people like that who exist. Now, ignorance I do now equate with ASSHOLE most of the time concerning MI matters. People JUST. DON'T. KNOW. I can't blame them if they don't study it, look into it, try and figure it out, whatever. Psychology is interesting to me. It's not to other people. I get that. I think a lot of people fail to realize that a group of mentally ill, THE group of mentally ill people are still a bit discriminated against because of the lack of understanding on a lot of folks' part. It's ignorance, like it is with everything else.

 

The people I know that I tell more than likely will NOT think that I'm a sick asshole. They KNOW me pretty well. A lot of them couldn't even believe it. But that was more shit like "Oh, I knew this woman that was bipolar. She was a BITCH and you're NOTHING like that!" Well, maybe the fucking box is pretty similar, but the contents may not be the same. Apparently, one represents us all to some people. 

 

What is the worst about it is that I've one person who's known me almost a decade, very ,very well who said to me at one point like, six months ago "Well, how do I know what to expect from you? You're bipolar! You can be one person one day and another one the next!" I flipped out because THAT does not happen to me. I do NOT switch personalities on a whim. He KNEW that. That is not consistent with who I am at all.

 

THAT was particularly PAINFUL. And that was the shit I was trying to avoid by not telling anyone.

 

I don't find it much of a bonus that I'm more open about it now. People don't try and understand it any better and I think if I talk about it, it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I feel like it's better for them to know, somehow though. Not the entire world, just my circle of close friends. Just so that they know if X happens, it's likely a product of Y and maybe I'm not seeing that myself and need help. Or cut me a little slack if I don't have it under control at the moment. That kind of shit.

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the only time it ever comes up for me is when someone asks why i don't work (which is rude to begin with).  then i think about being honest.  then i think about having to explain what it means to be bipolar and disabled by the illness.  then i don't want to bother being educational, because it just isn't in me (i'm too tired and too impatient).  if i felt better (or if i was hypomanic and talking too much), i'd talk about it.  right now i couldn't be bothered explaining why i wear eyeglasses.

 

so i lie and say something like "i have seizures", which everyone kinda understands, and doesn't judge because it isn't "in my head" (as if seizures come from your kidneys or something).  so no follow-up questions to answer.

 

if someone mentions they're on meds or something though, i'm all over that.  then i'm honest because i'm talking to someone who gets it, even if they're a stranger/friend of a friend.  after that i'm always kinda happy to have been able to disclose to somebody, ANYBODY, without all the bullshit.

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the only time it ever comes up for me is when someone asks why i don't work (which is rude to begin with).  then i think about being honest.  then i think about having to explain what it means to be bipolar and disabled by the illness.  then i don't want to bother being educational, because it just isn't in me (i'm too tired and too impatient).  if i felt better (or if i was hypomanic and talking too much), i'd talk about it.  right now i couldn't be bothered explaining why i wear eyeglasses.

 

so i lie and say something like "i have seizures", which everyone kinda understands, and doesn't judge because it isn't "in my head" (as if seizures come from your kidneys or something).  so no follow-up questions to answer.

 

if someone mentions they're on meds or something though, i'm all over that.  then i'm honest because i'm talking to someone who gets it, even if they're a stranger/friend of a friend.  after that i'm always kinda happy to have been able to disclose to somebody, ANYBODY, without all the bullshit.

 

Ha. Yeah, I do that with ANYONE that mentions that they are on a psychiatric medication as well. Just like you said. I'm all over that as well. VERY quickly. I think it's the fact that, HEY! THIS person in my real life circle of folks might understand a bit of something, I suppose. It's comforting to have someone around that knows what it's like to struggle in a similar manner. I will tell a total effing stranger as much as I want if they are willing to listen and I can listen to them as well. It's an instant connection to me. Even if I never talk to them again. I get excited when this happens. I've not been disappointed with one person that disclosed to me first that I began a conversation with over it.

 

To me, that's a lot like finding someone else who is in love with the same football team as me. Heh. Though, having MI in common in nothing to high-five over.

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I've discussed it with my loved ones and closest friends. One bad experience has taught me to never discuss it with work unless you have to take considerable time off because of it. I had to have monthly health and risk assessments when I was working for the government and they think nothing about sharing the information with other potential employers, thereby killing your chances for a new job. Technically that's illegal in the UK, but employers have a way of doing it anyway...

 

So, close friends and family, yes. Work... NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!

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If you don't feel like telling other people that's fine.  But I will say that not telling people because you are afraid, maynot be the best choice.  In general, actions that are born out of fear, tend to not be the best policies.  I'm pretty much out in the open about the subject and I find that it doesn't cause me much more grief that I would generally get, given the ambient "asshole index*".   

 

I've found that the amount of grief I get for not hiding my MI is less than the amount of effort I would have to go through to hide it.  

 

But whatever decision you make, the one person who must not be biased because of your MI is yourself.

 

 

*The asshole index, is the amount of grief that you would get off any group of people just given the number of assholes in the group and how obnoxious the assholes are.  The higher the index, the more grief you would receive over simple things such as the color of shirt you wear. 

 

 

Hehe! Love the asshole index!

 

Thanks everyone, that's a really nice discussion to read.

 

I don't think I want to have a 'I am bipolar' bumper sticker or anything, I'd just like that I'm not afraid to tell friends when it comes up. I guess I just wish we lived in a world where it'd be fine and when I feel crap everyone still goes "Oh, I'm sorry, I don't know what to say.", because honestly, worse than that are people that tell you that they also feel down sometimes. Though, to be fair, they only mean well.

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I refuse to tell people I'm bipolar, and this messageboard I found while perusing the internet last night completely reinforced that decision. Suffice to say, they were not very kind to anyone with bipolar, and even warned anyone that was reading to stay away from us toxic assholes, because we will ruin your life. And so forth. And I really mean everything followed! One woman was going on about it in the name of God, I felt like I was sitting in on a Westboro Baptist Church meeting with her posts, lol.

 

I realize not everyone is like that, and that's great. But I'm not willing to risk losing any more friends over it. My very best friend, my brother from another mother, took off on me the last time I had a breakdown and spent time in the hospital. I know now somebody like that isn't worth my time, but I'll be damned if that didn't hurt just a little bit.

 

So I guess I stay away from people for the most part, because I don't want to anwser any questions about the medications I take, why I don't drink (I'm on the verge of saying I'm a recovering alcoholic, but I hate lying), yadda yadda yadda. Distance is best for me right now, but I hope in the future my hesitance on the subject changes. Distance keeps both the good and the bad out.

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I am generally out about being bipolar, including at work (and I've been promoted since disclosing, I don't think it has affected my career at all, it was in my opinion a form of insurance for me to disclose - you can't get accomodations if your employer doesn't know, though I haven't needed any, though it explains my 'extra' absences - the whole team I work with knows though, not just management/SVP).

 

What I am generally not out about is psychotic features.  I may in fact be schizoaffective (last my pdoc said 'either way we're treating the same brain dysfunction'), but even if that ever becomes more formal dx I will likely just tell people IRL bipolar.  Some people know about the psychotic stuff, and some people know I take anti-psychotics, but I am more nervous telling people about that.  That I do not disclose at work, and I rarely disclose it to friends, except those I know very well.  More because I worry that people will think I'm dangerous, even though I'm not.  It's also difficult for people to understand, even if they don't react badly.  My partner is very supportive, and handles my psychotic stuff in the best way possible - I couldn't ask for more - but it is also foreign to him. 

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