When You are Forced to Disclose: The Bipolar Question of the Week

John McManamy Health Guide
  • I hate being reminded I have bipolar, and Monday will be one of those days. That is when I report for jury duty. Naturally, I’m looking forward to two burly men in black suits clamping me on the shoulder and politely asking me to leave.

     

    Other people I know send in a note from their doctor. Call me crazy, but I don’t believe that my illness excuses me from fulfilling my civic obligations. But this belief was severely tested nearly six years ago. We were escorted into a windowless courtroom where two defendants sat with two attorneys. This did not look good. The presiding judge confirmed it: A long trial, four to five weeks. 

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    We pick up on the action from a HealthCentral post of the era:

     

    Five weeks! Five weeks of adhering to a rigid schedule dictated by others, of sitting in a room with no natural light, not able to stretch, walk, take a breather. Five weeks of sitting, just sitting. 

     

    Just sitting – the easiest task in the world for most of the population. But try doing it with my brain. There in the back of the courtroom, surrounded by other would-be jurors, I wanted to bury my face in my hands and cry. I wasn’t like the others in the room. For them five weeks of fulfilling one’s civic duty was a major inconvenience and perhaps a personal hardship. Nothing more. For me, it was life-threatening. A melt-down was a virtual certainty. 

     

    Fortunately, the judge took pity on me. 

     

    I prefer living my life as if I do not have bipolar. But every once in a while along comes the bitter reminder that I am not like everyone else. 

     

    Question: How do you handle situations when you are forced to disclose you have bipolar? How do you go about asking others to accommodate your condition?

     

    Feel free to recount your personal experiences. Comments below ...  

Published On: January 27, 2012