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Asha

Are you open about your diagnosis?

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I haven't told anyone about being bi polar. My husband and my mom know.  It's easy for me to keep myself secluded because I work from home and we live 10 hours away from family (for 13 years). Sometimes I feel like I want to tell people to give me an effing break.  Break the stigma.  I'm still struggling on feeling normal and getting my life centered.  I'm here and there with meds and what Not.

 

It's almost been a year since I was diagnosed.  My best friend said the other day "yeah but you get angry about silly things more so than the average person".  Which essentially pissed me off that she said that.  But it hurt me also.  It's like my behavior is obvious, but people don't get it.  That the weeks I don't answer my phone or leave my house and sleep all day isn't anything personal.  I just want to be left the eff alone.  That when I'm good, I'm good!  I'll dance on the bar and carry on conversations with strangers.

 

Do you tell people?  When they talk shit about someone who has bi polar in front of you because they don't know, I just want to be like "that poor person.  I understand what they're going through and you don't.  I understand because I'm bi polar too. And I can't help it.  And it sucks." 

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Everyone knows, and I have yet to run into someone who ran for the hills. Perhaps it was easier for me, because I went though it all before with my sexual orientation. I simply don't give a flying fuck what other people think. If they can't deal, that's their problem. Life is too short to worry about that kind of shit. I understand that others may be worried about their reputations, their careers, their family relationships, and whatnot. I don't have any of those issues anymore, so I guess I'm liberated.

That said, some things are best kept more carefully guarded. Talking to people about your homicidal command hallucinations is probably not the best idea in the world. Even so, I've found that once I broach the bipolar thing, people ask questions and I can even talk about my psychosis after a while. A lot of people are actually rather fascinated by mania and psychosis, even doctors. Just keep the scary stuff to yourself unless you know the person really well and know that they will be OK with it. 

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When I experienced my first major depressive episode and was hospitalised 20 years ago my family were given strict instructions to not tell a single soul as I was mortified. I was only 19 yrs old. After a while I didn't care what people thought although I still had issues with people knowing I was in the hospital.

After a manic episode 14 yrs ago my diagnosis was changed to bipolar disorder. Again I had issues with people knowing about my diagnosis. I didn't want anybody to know about my manic episodes. Fast forward a couple of years and I really didn't give a stuff about people knowing and still don't. 

Now there are still many people in my life either can't or won't talk to me about my illness. They don't even acknowledge it. I have a lovely cousin who I am quite good friends with and she makes statements like.....oh I often have nights where I can't sleep or ........we all suffer with stress.....NO idea , despite my explanation of my illness. There are lots of people like that but I genuinely don't care who knows what anymore.

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Everyone for me knows.  Fortunately my mother (as people asked her how I was ... knowing I was having a hard time) explained things better than I could to people.  I have the hardest time explaining what to say about the MI, and for some reason when it comes from my mother telling people, they have a lot more belief than if it is coming from me.  I have no idea why ... welcome to the story of my life.

I don't care what shit people say about me.  I don't want them in my life anyway.  If people say anything/joke about MI in general, I don't say much, just let them say it and walk away ... knowing in my mind that I really don't want to be around that person.  Sometimes I casually say something like, 'oh, I have MI also, I can understand what s/he is going through."  And then go on based on their reaction.

There isn't much I can do when a person has a mindset of people with MI aren't (worth it? or something negative like that), and that it is ok to make jokes about it.  I mean, sometimes my father might make a joke but it is something that we just laugh about.  Other than that I don't like the jokes etc.  I mean I have to have some sort of that in my life.  At least he acknowledges that I have a MI now.  Wasn't like that before.  If others did that to me though I wouldn't take it the same way.

And yes, like @Flash said, some things I keep to myself ... even from my pdoc ... like the thoughts:

3 hours ago, Flash said:

That said, some things are best kept more carefully guarded. Talking to people about your homicidal command hallucinations is probably not the best idea in the world.

 

3 hours ago, Flash said:

Just keep the scary stuff to yourself unless you know the person really well and know that they will be OK with it. 

^^Exactly.

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I'm not at all open, but that's consistent with how I am about other things. My job is not cool with any MI, and when I've told friends it's caused problems, so now I keep it to myself. But then, I had cancer surgery and kept quiet about what was going on there, too, and have rarely told anyone since, so obviously I am inclined to be secretive, something I don't necessarily recommend. I don't feel anyone needs details, that's for sure. But I do deprive myself of any support by keeping it so secret, that's assuming I might get support. I wouldn't feel the need to tell all to everyone, but being as extreme as I am probably isn't best, either. 

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I am open. I haven't worked in a while, but everyone at my last three jobs knew. Everyone at my synagogue who cares to know, knows; my rabbi occasionally uses me as a contact person for the newly diagnosed to talk to if they're freaking out. All of my friends and my husband's friends and my family know. My husband's brother and his wife know, but his parents do not. This is simply because he hates his parents and doesn't tell them any real details about his life, not because he's ashamed of me.

Stigma can kiss its own ass. 

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To close friends and family, yes.  At work, no.  I work at a psychiatric hospital, and I feel like my coworkers would constantly be monitoring me for signs of an episode if I shared my diagnosis.  

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6 hours ago, Rabbity9 said:

To close friends and family, yes.  At work, no.  I work at a psychiatric hospital, and I feel like my coworkers would constantly be monitoring me for signs of an episode if I shared my diagnosis.  

I think that is a very good idea.  I would do the same thing.

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My immediate family, my ex, and my two close friends all know about my MI, and I have told my manager or HR at a few of the places I have worked at because I felt I had to given the circumstances. Aside from that, though, I normally do not tell people about my MI; I want to be seen like a normal person by people like my coworkers, and do worry that I would not be were people to know that I was MI. That said, I am not very good at hiding my MI, and I suspect people know anyways (especially with my two IP stays - while they were never told where I went, they can always guess). But I would prefer for them to merely suspect rather than to know.

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Everyone knows, but only because I can't hide how dysfunctional I am. I suppose they are more understanding of me knowing I am unwell but I am still often held to account for things that I can't really help, like not working.

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It's mostly need-to-know in my circle. However, if it comes up in casual conversation and it's relevant to bring up, I will mention it. Basically I'm not advertising it but I'm also not really hiding it.

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I tell anyone and everyone about it. I have a blog, I wrote a book, my family and friends all know. I talk about it a lot on facebook etc. I don't work so there's no issue there. When I did work though I told my closer work colleagues but not everyone.

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It can be freeing to disclose and be able to express more, but there are risks. I used to take it on a need to know basis. You can't take it back once it is out there.

That said. I am very open now. I give presentations, blog, work in the field. Everyone knows.

 

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My family and closest friends know, that's about it. Unless I feel the need to I don't usually divulge personal things like that without a specific reason. I wouldn't randomly talk about other medical issues for instance, so why would bipolar be any different from that?

Edited by friedcerebrum

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2 hours ago, confused said:

You can't take it back once it is out there.

That is a good point.  You can't.

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Every time this topic comes up, I advise the same thing. Keep it on a need-to-know basis. The last thing you want is for your employer to find out unless you need special accommodations. My adviser in grad school found out about my depression and somehow that made it into letters of reference that he wrote, and it has dogged me to this day. It probably cost me several very good jobs.

As confused said, once it's out there you cannot take it back.

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I think if I lived in a city or something I'd be more inclined to tell. But I live in a rural area, I don't know how people would react. If I told someone it's no doubt everyone would know, and if they shunned me because of it I'd be screwed unless I moved.

It's happened before, a young woman with PTSD and anxiety disorders lives in the next town over and they weren't very kind of receptive of her. 

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I did launch myself a blog.  I'm a web designer/developer so I'm pretty well versed in that area.  I thought it would be a good way to release, by sort of journaling.  Putting it out there for someone to randomly find through google and relate too.  I am keeping it anonymous though. 

My closest friends are my daughter's friends parents.  I feel like if they were to know, would they let their kids still come to our house/spend the night?  

I'm in a suburb outside of a big city, but we're still small town country bumpkins.  Even the freaking pharmacists know me ? well I guess they know my diagnosis as well.   

I am honestly one of those people who thought Bipolar = crazy ass.  My grandma is Bipolar 1, and I grew up watching her go in and out of the hospital, hitting on her drs. trying to kiss them, hallucinating, not knowing the date, and being completely out of touch with reality.  She tried to plant a garden in the snow one time because she wanted fresh green beans in the dead of winter.  I'll never forget it.  So I am even apart of the damn stigma!  That's what I fear most, is that people have no clue that there is another type of bipolar.  It's a spectrum like autism.  I am so proud of myself through this journey so far.  But maybe I need to educate their fucking minds and voice against the stigma!  I have the support of my husband and my mom (finally).  My business is apart of huge network online.  I'm a fairly well known creative, and I wonder if maybe I can help someone get the help they need. It's amazing that once you see clearly because you're getting help, how I can pick someone out of a crowd.  Puts it all into a completely different perspective!  

I'm blabbering here, haha!  Thank you to all that have answered!  I am so glad I found this community. 

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It's true that you can't take it back once it's out there. But setting aside employment for the time being, do you really want to have a relationship with a friend or family member if they can't handle your MI? I personally found coming out as gay to be more difficult. My own mother equated gays with child molesters and kicked me out, not long after my father disowned me.

On the other hand, I bring up my MI with people all the time, even casually, and they seem more fascinated by it than put off. But every situation is unique, of course. I'm pretty sure I would have told everyone at my last job. I would never have have mentioned it at my first job, though. And especially not the gay thing (there is  very interesting story behind that  all, but it would identify me, and I value my anonymity. PM me if you want the details.) 

 But I have no fear of either here on the left coast of the US. But I don't have a career to protect, either. Some people are just clueless. They think MI = unstable lunatic who will murder them, or at least will be a liability because they have issues. and while the former is highly unlikely, the latter is harder to argue with. You might have to take more days off. You might have to go IP. And what on earth would you tell them when you packed your bags and went to Istanbul for a month without telling anyone? Unless you are some kind of extraordinary rain maker, it's unlikely they'd keep you. And even then they might not, fearing some potential crayzee that will affect the firm's bottom line.

So anyway, I get it. A few years ago, I suddenly became a horrible blabbermouth. I can keep the secrets of others just fine, but I can't keep my own to save my life. I think it's because I feel so free being unencumbered. I'm actually less likely to divulge my sexuality than my MI. People won't view you as some kind of moral failure or abomination if you have a mental illness. They may pity you and deem you unsuitable for whatever, but there's no disgust or sense of you being morally reprehensible. Even so, they might worry about their children and distance themselves from you. 

A number of years back, I heard this horrible beeping sound that was driving me up a wall. I was in one those hyperacuity states where I could hear EVERYTHING. I traced it to the neighbor down the hill, who I was always friendly with. I knocked on her door and asked if she could shut the beeping noise off. She couldn't even hear it, and gave me this nasty look that said, "Stay away from my children." Turns out it was her carbon monoxide detector in the basement. Its battery was dying. She disconnected it, but she never talked to me again. It seems strange, because some people have better hearing than others. But maybe I was mixed at the time and didn't realize it. I might have come as ... well, crazy.

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