On "Coming Out"

HeyJude Community Member June 18, 2008
  • Wouldn't it be good if we bipolars, like the gay community, could just "come out of the closet" and get on with our lives.  If only it was that simple!  Society isn't ready for us to be an integral part of their world. 

     

    Eric's recent post, in reference to his book, touched on this topic and it got my wheels turning.  He basically said that people's perceptions quickly change toward us once they realize we have a mental illness. So it's best to keep it to ourselves.  I could not agree more - I've experienced it many times.

     

    My family, of course, knows...and a few friends are privy to my illness.  Some acquaintences have heard it thru the grapevine.  It really doesn't matter to me who has knowledge of my illness.  But it's not my style to go around telling the world.  As a matter of fact, it's refreshing sometimes to talk to strangers who have no idea that I have bipolar.

    They treat me with respect.

     

    I'd love to open that closet door and shout it to the world, but somehow it's not in the cards, at least not now.

     

    If someone outright asks me, I usually say that I have depression, which is true.  The word "bipolar" often makes people shirk away and then get caught up in their world of discrimination and stigma.

     

    It's not an easy problem, and I'd be interested in hearing your insights/experiences re: "coming out"

     

    Judy

43 Comments
  • nurz
    Jul. 02, 2008

    I came out and told my family many years ago and ever since they treated me like I was sub human, crazy etc.  I was disownedfrom the family.   Should have kepy my mouth shut.  And my mother and two sisters are all nurses as am I!  Who knew! Nurz

    • HeyJude
      Jul. 02, 2008

      Nurz...Thanks for your comments.  Guess we never know how family and friends are going to react.  Sorry your situation turned out so badly.

       

      Judy

  • Anonymous
    Julie
    Jun. 24, 2008

    I'm not ashamed and I don't hide it.  Because of some of my medicine my memory is not that great and I just flat out say "it's my medicine".  If people ask, I tell them.  My balance sucked at the gym and I still work on it with my trainer and when people see me lifting and hanging onto something and ask why, I explain why.  I want to be...

    RHMLucky777

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    I'm not ashamed and I don't hide it.  Because of some of my medicine my memory is not that great and I just flat out say "it's my medicine".  If people ask, I tell them.  My balance sucked at the gym and I still work on it with my trainer and when people see me lifting and hanging onto something and ask why, I explain why.  I want to be a healthy face of someone that is BiPolar.  I was so not healthy for so, so long.  Since I was a child, probebly 30 years!  I watch my Mom and (probebly) my grandmother treat themselves of Bi-Polar with Alcohol and be mean and die young, not me!  I still have days when I need a "time-out" and those close to me understand.  But I'm the real me now and I don't want people to mis-understand or be afraid of Bi-Polar.  I love it when people ask me questions, if I don't know the answer, I try to refer them somewhere, even here!  If your healthy, appreciate it and share it!

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 24, 2008

      Julie...Although you are not with the majority, you are a good example for all of us.  Perhaps I can become more forthright in time.  You make some very good points.  Thanks.

       

      Judy

    • Anonymous
      Julie
      Jun. 25, 2008

      Jude,

       

      *l* thanks for the compliment.  Can I tell you that I forgot my meds on Monday AM and by the time I got home that night, ran the dogs with the neighbor kids along with me I was shaking.  I had to make a peanut butter sandwich, get a glass of milk, take 2 chill pills and lock myself in my bedroom with a romance novel.  I swear...

      RHMLucky777

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      Jude,

       

      *l* thanks for the compliment.  Can I tell you that I forgot my meds on Monday AM and by the time I got home that night, ran the dogs with the neighbor kids along with me I was shaking.  I had to make a peanut butter sandwich, get a glass of milk, take 2 chill pills and lock myself in my bedroom with a romance novel.  I swear sometimes it is so frustrating to be dependant on meds but then I remember how my brain was like a dragonfly with a death wish before and I just stick them in my weekly box and realize how lucky I was to finally get 2 Dr's and my dad who realized what was going on.

       

      On a totally different note, have you tried yoga?  I love it!  I actually had to stop for a while because of my balance, but now I do some at home, but a class environment with a instructor is good.  A Vinyasa (sun salutation) who doesn't love the sun! Or a relaxation class.  It sort of centers your brain and your body together.  I thought it was b.s. until I tried it, that and Tai Chi.  No matter what fitness level or body type you are you can do it.  And it gives you that "appt"  and responsibility to be somewhere every week until you start to feel better.

       

      All of us have been there.  It's horrible, and no matter how some of us act there are still some really crappy days when your old self is fighting to come out.  Those days hurt, they exhaust me, but I know that's not the real me and maybe just a "time out" and I can get through it.

      Please keep in touch.  It's hard, you can do it, it may take some time to find the right path but your on your way!

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 25, 2008

      Julie...No, I have not tried yoga.  But I do a little meditation from time to time.  Anything that relaxes the brain and the body and brings focus and centeredness is good for bipolars.  I walk my dog - it's good for my brain, as well as for my dog's. Smile

       

      Judy

  • nurz
    Jun. 23, 2008

    When I told my family,

     I was disowned, takekn loff of the will etc!  Never again!

     

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 23, 2008

      nurz...Hopefully, you are getting over this - I cannot imagine why families sometimes do what they do.  We certainly do not deserve rejection; we have enough on our plates.  I wish you all the best.

       

      Judy

  • JM
    JM
    Jun. 21, 2008

     Dear Friend,

            I believe that we should come out and try to come together , to show that we can be strong .   We can relate to one another, show support and let others know they our not alone!  Our Mask needs to be taken off alittle at a time to show we our human just like everyone else.  Yes...

    RHMLucky777

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     Dear Friend,

            I believe that we should come out and try to come together , to show that we can be strong .   We can relate to one another, show support and let others know they our not alone!  Our Mask needs to be taken off alittle at a time to show we our human just like everyone else.  Yes it is true that we should do this slowly and eventually we will have a place to come to when we need the people they Share similar Paths !! 

            I don't know if you want to make this happen , but from Reading your post made me feel Inspired to do so. I hope that this information will help others out there come together and again let people like us know ( your not alone) & ( we are here to LISTEN) !

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~J~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 21, 2008

      Hi JM...As you mention, supporting one another is SO important - it is the key to our progress.  I see from your profile that you are a peer support specialist...you certainly are doing some very good work in behalf of mental illness. I have done some advocacy work, which has been incredibly rewarding.  Helping and making...

      RHMLucky777

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      Hi JM...As you mention, supporting one another is SO important - it is the key to our progress.  I see from your profile that you are a peer support specialist...you certainly are doing some very good work in behalf of mental illness. I have done some advocacy work, which has been incredibly rewarding.  Helping and making a difference for others with MI is what matters most.  Yes, we must support each other.  Thanks for posting.

       

      Judy

    • JM
      JM
      Jun. 21, 2008

      Yes ,

       

                I will support you and anyone else that needs to have support as well.   Let me know if you need anything .

       

       

      j

  • Beth
    Jun. 20, 2008

    I couldn't agree with you more.  No matter who the person is, for some reason, your relationship changes the minute they " find out " that you are bipolar.  And, like you, I'm not ashamed of being Bipolar and I think I handle it reasonably well, BUT, it's hard to deal with THEIR attitudes and opinions.

    At first, I thought that I would always be able...

    RHMLucky777

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    I couldn't agree with you more.  No matter who the person is, for some reason, your relationship changes the minute they " find out " that you are bipolar.  And, like you, I'm not ashamed of being Bipolar and I think I handle it reasonably well, BUT, it's hard to deal with THEIR attitudes and opinions.

    At first, I thought that I would always be able to confide in my husband and family about my bipolar life BUT, all too quickly, I lost a marriage.  Then, husband #2 had his own issues so I thought he would be safe, BUT he ran his mouth and I lost a job.  Now, I'm convinced that there are no "safe" people.  Sheer travesty.   I have found that many of those people who have a problem with YOUR diagnosis are carrying around THEIR own secret diagnosis.

    Yes, it is wonderful to meet new people from other places that do not have a pre-judgement about you.  Refreshing.  They treat you like you can walk and chew gum.

     

    One of my favorite moments was when, as I was lying down in the dentists' chair, the technicians came in to ask "Are YOU REALLY Bipolar???"  I had no idea that my diagnosis affected my dental cleaning.......so, I said NO.  Sad to lie, but what business was it of their's......did they need special tools for the bipolar person's mouth?         I would like to be there when they receive their DSMV-IV diagnosis...........because, if these individuals are so paranoid about us.............something must be amiss w/ them.

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 20, 2008

      Elizabeth...Yes, you are right, their definitely is a "separation" between us and those "regular folks".  It's unfortunate they don't take the time to know us -  they would like us very much.

       

      You mentioned your trip to the dentist - I had a similar experience.  My optometrist asked me what meds I was taking and about any illnesses...

      RHMLucky777

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      Elizabeth...Yes, you are right, their definitely is a "separation" between us and those "regular folks".  It's unfortunate they don't take the time to know us -  they would like us very much.

       

      You mentioned your trip to the dentist - I had a similar experience.  My optometrist asked me what meds I was taking and about any illnesses I had.  I told him it was none of his business.  Eventually, I told him, but not without reservations.  He was very kind, and told me he has a sister with bipolar.  It really is a small world.

       

      And if anyone doubts it, I CAN walk and chew gum at the same time. Wink

       

      Judy

    • Beth
      Jun. 20, 2008

      Me too!  Problem is, I just don't LIKE chewing very much gum.  Tongue out

      Bottom line is:  We must remember to relax and laugh at those who fear having a relationship with us.  They are missing some of the best people in the world.  Too bad for them.  Do not let ignorant people bother you too much!  It will always bother you but it's,...

      RHMLucky777

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      Me too!  Problem is, I just don't LIKE chewing very much gum.  Tongue out

      Bottom line is:  We must remember to relax and laugh at those who fear having a relationship with us.  They are missing some of the best people in the world.  Too bad for them.  Do not let ignorant people bother you too much!  It will always bother you but it's, ultimately, their loss.  Keep smiling.  Hold your head up high.  Always hold your "secret" just as you would a trumph card in a poker game.  Bipolar people are typically very smart!  Use it!  Cool

  • otterlo
    Jun. 20, 2008

    For too long, I have lived in shame with this illness but no more.  I think that anytime we keep secrets, we feel shameful.  Your example of the gay community is a good one.  My son is gay.  The gay community had to live with secrets and in shadows for so many years and because of that they suffered from increased depression and suicide. ...

    RHMLucky777

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    For too long, I have lived in shame with this illness but no more.  I think that anytime we keep secrets, we feel shameful.  Your example of the gay community is a good one.  My son is gay.  The gay community had to live with secrets and in shadows for so many years and because of that they suffered from increased depression and suicide.  I am bipolar and I did not ask for this; it just is.  My son did not ask to be gay; it just is.  The stigma for people with mental illness is real and strong.  When gay people decided to come out of the closet they did so in groups--they united.  So did black people when they decided to fight for their civil rights.  When people with mental illnesses decide to stop living in the shadows and stop feeling ashamed and we decide to unite, we can come out of the shadows and then and only then will we feel like everyone else.  We have the right to feel that way!  We are people first and we do good things and sometimes great things.  My son and black people still feel prejudice at times, but they have come a long way in their acceptance by society.

     

    I have had many problems with bipolar depression and sometimes I thougt and still think it will get the best of me but having said that, I graduated from college at 48 summa cum laude.  I have back packed through Europe twice.  I lived in Europe in three different countries.  I was a social worker for 10 years.  I have taught exercise. I am currently going to go back to school and change career directions.  I do fight the fight and I will keep fighting it.  I admit to feeling that I have days and sometimes weeks when I think that I cannot continue to fight but I get up again, dust myself off and go on.  Pamela

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 20, 2008

      Pam...Thanks for your awesomely positive post.  Glad you are making peace regarding your bipolar.  You have accomplished many things, and are a fine example for all of us.

       

      Maybe someone should organize a peaceful gathering of sorts in Washington - only thing is, we probably would NOT get positive press.  Maybe its been done already;...

      RHMLucky777

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      Pam...Thanks for your awesomely positive post.  Glad you are making peace regarding your bipolar.  You have accomplished many things, and are a fine example for all of us.

       

      Maybe someone should organize a peaceful gathering of sorts in Washington - only thing is, we probably would NOT get positive press.  Maybe its been done already; if so, I'd be interested in hearing about it.  Thank you again for your comments.

       

      Judy

  • Anonymous
    border collie
    Jun. 20, 2008

    I outted (is that a word?) myself last year in a public presentation, and in a local newspaper article about mental health and suicide prevention.   Some key people at work know, as does an HR person.  Sadly, my illness is starting to affect my work, and limiting my opportunities for advancement.   The job itself (call center) is really...

    RHMLucky777

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    I outted (is that a word?) myself last year in a public presentation, and in a local newspaper article about mental health and suicide prevention.   Some key people at work know, as does an HR person.  Sadly, my illness is starting to affect my work, and limiting my opportunities for advancement.   The job itself (call center) is really boring, and certain duties are triggering episodes (rapid cycling, BP-I ). So, I stick to my wellness plan, keep in touch with my support group friends, and pray.

     

    If God wills it, I hope to find something that will be a lot more exciting and pay decently, then resign on my terms.   But before I go, I may ask for some workplace accomodations and 'tell all'.   And see how it plays out.  I know how the movie will end...they will target me for termination, and do it very carefully.  I will have a lot of documentation and a good lawyer waiting in the wings. 

     

    BPs in recovery are not victims.  We have a disability.  We deserve the same consideration under the law as anyone else.  And if employers looked past the stereotypes and fear...they would find some of the brightest, most creative workers on earth!   But whether, when and how one comes out is a very individual, private matter.  My choice and style is just that...mine.  But the 'regular' workplace is a hard place for people with mood disorders.  Our minds work so differently, but the business world wants us to 'fit' inside their cubes and do as we're told.   It's driving me nuts...and I'm already 'crazy'.  Thanks for the chance to vent.

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 20, 2008

      BC...Thanks for sharing - your viewpoint is refreshing.  It's good to know that some of us are "outting" with dignity.

       

      Hope you find the perfect job, either where you are or someplace else.  We creative and intelligent bipolars deserve the very best that life has to offer.

       

      Judy

       

       

  • freeda
    Jun. 19, 2008

    I don't shy away from telling people.  I think it's important for me to "own it" and accept it as a part of who I am, and that helps me. 

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 19, 2008

      Freeda...The way you handle things is probably the best way.  If someone brings it up to me, I don't hesitate to tell them.  However, I refrain from telling others about my illness just for the sake of doing so.  I'm not comfortable shouting it to the world.  Wish I could. 

      Thanks for your comment.

       

      Judy

  • JackieO
    Jun. 19, 2008

    I recently lost my job, and while I don't know for sure, I suspect that ultimately it was because of my BP. Looking back, I should have kept my mouth shut instead of sharing with what I thouht was a supportive team of coworkers. Officially I was "downsized," (our small company had lost a lot of business and she had to let somebody go) but I think I lost my...

    RHMLucky777

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    I recently lost my job, and while I don't know for sure, I suspect that ultimately it was because of my BP. Looking back, I should have kept my mouth shut instead of sharing with what I thouht was a supportive team of coworkers. Officially I was "downsized," (our small company had lost a lot of business and she had to let somebody go) but I think I lost my credibility when I told. I think my boss feared that I was unpredictable, potentially unstable, and she questioned the soundness of my judgement. Definitely not telling next time.

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 19, 2008

      Jackie...Hope things are going well for you - it's tough to lose a job, ESPECIALLY under your circumstances.  It may be that legally you must tell about the illness before taking a job in order to have legal rights to sue - I'm not sure about this one.  Maybe you should check it out.  It stinks, and it's just not right that you lost your job...

      RHMLucky777

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      Jackie...Hope things are going well for you - it's tough to lose a job, ESPECIALLY under your circumstances.  It may be that legally you must tell about the illness before taking a job in order to have legal rights to sue - I'm not sure about this one.  Maybe you should check it out.  It stinks, and it's just not right that you lost your job under those circumstances.  Sometimes it's not worth the fight, but sometimes it is.  Thanks for your sharepost.

       

      Judy

  • bipolarjourneycom
    Jun. 19, 2008

    Judy, I wish we could somehow change the perception of what it means to be mentally ill.  It doesn't matter where it originated anymore.  Some say media, lack of education, and personal bias help to drive the bus down the course of being tagged "crazy."  If we could just slowly and correctly find a way to change the perception we might find ourselves...

    RHMLucky777

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    Judy, I wish we could somehow change the perception of what it means to be mentally ill.  It doesn't matter where it originated anymore.  Some say media, lack of education, and personal bias help to drive the bus down the course of being tagged "crazy."  If we could just slowly and correctly find a way to change the perception we might find ourselves all living in a better place.

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 19, 2008

      Hi BpJ...Thanks for your post.  Probably the one most important thing we can do is "educate", starting with our immediate families, and moving on from there, something at the grass roots level.  I've thought about writing a "letter to the editor", but something keep me from doing it.  You're right, we need to try to change the perceptions...

      RHMLucky777

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      Hi BpJ...Thanks for your post.  Probably the one most important thing we can do is "educate", starting with our immediate families, and moving on from there, something at the grass roots level.  I've thought about writing a "letter to the editor", but something keep me from doing it.  You're right, we need to try to change the perceptions that people have about MI.

       

      Judy 

       

       

  • ctrygirl
    Jun. 19, 2008

    First l do thank you for your post, very interesting perspective and glad to meet you!!

     I too DO NOT reveal my illness to anyone, it was hard enough to do to my family and really even my own kids who are all pretty much grown up now (one 24, one 18, one 17) because of the stigma that follows bps around like a shadow that can't be severed like peter pan's....

    RHMLucky777

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    First l do thank you for your post, very interesting perspective and glad to meet you!!

     I too DO NOT reveal my illness to anyone, it was hard enough to do to my family and really even my own kids who are all pretty much grown up now (one 24, one 18, one 17) because of the stigma that follows bps around like a shadow that can't be severed like peter pan's.Undecided.....

    However, I don't see bp as a curse, or as something much worse, instead i try so hard to stay positive and see it as a burst of mental awareness that is far greater than many others for they never seem to think outside of the box and keep their judgements and stigmas no matter what my behavior or mood might be...and yes, i speak also of family, but not theones i live with.....for my husband is a GOD SEND to me for he "gets it" or at least tries very hard to. But friends, or what i thought were friends, once they heard the "news" they seemed to pull away big time, and the judgement of those that don't even know me shows in their eyes....kinda like a fear or a very explicit watching of all i do....and no that isn't parinoid instead i have witnessed it first hand....and felt it or STILL DO everytime anyone learns of my illness and yet i tell no one...however, living in a very small town...POPULATION 840 YEHAW SALUTE (teehee my hee haw rendition there)

    anyway....I am so with you, the ones that hurt the most are the ones i've told that are family.....the ones that aren't living with me even and yet they don't get it and i often hear "shake it off" or "you can control that anger or that depression just get out and do something and get your mind off it" or the worst comments like "you need to pray more, GOd will HEAL you" uhmm didn't know i needed 'fixed' but that really gets under my skin for i read the bible constantly and am in a very comfortable position with MY realtionship with GOD but oh to hear that it is like OH YOU HAVE A DEMON or something from the 1940s where they forcefully sterlized and aborted babies of moms with bp....during the hitler yrs and happened HERE IN AMERICA TOOOOOO!!! argh and geez.... 

    UHM HELLLOOOOO it is the MIND that won't stop....it is the voices i hear every single day, it is the visionary hallucinations, the tactile delusions that are the problem that "getting my mind off it and shaking it off won't solve" period.....yet they persist on believing the stigmas...so many times i have come from a family members house or a phone call from them to only end up MORE manic or depressed due to the attitude they hold....at times it infuriates me to the point of throwing the phone or hitting a tree outside or whatever may release some of the anxiety from being LABELED and STAMPED as "fragile...handle with care" or anything negative that may come up in conversation or times i literally can't sit still long enough to have a conversation is MY FAULT MY ISSUES MY BP EMERGING>>>litttle do they know...it doesn't and wont ever go AWAY persay....only good times and bad  ya know, well of course YOU do, sometimes i think that only another bp can understand another bp, just like when we have funerals you say "im so sorry i know what you're going through" when in reality we dont ya knw???
    and yet i've given those that i have told (immediate family only and therapists and pdoc are all i've ever told the ins and outs to) somuch information on bp and yet i KNOW they haven't read it..period...just feign as if they already know the issues bps face and we all know that is impossible unless you ARE BP ...empathy maybe....but i so don't want that...i just want them to treat me as they used to before the skeleton came out of the closet and my mask strings broke basically. For i wore it well and very tight for so many years so many

     ......and yet there came a time it just wouldn't remain on and had break down, and then nnow i again don a new mask now....one of silence, of discretion on who sees me without it, at times its smothering basically per say, but it IS necessary in this small town and to be honest it makes me feel more able to deal and do things without speculation on my ISSUES that they so search for each time they see me or each time i get in public places with those i know.....just let em wonder is mynew attitude so i can deal with it, you know the old saying SMILE someone will thinkyour up to something, well kinda like that.....go about my business and let em watch, wonder, speculate....but oh how irritating when in one of my irriatated or tactile moods....but doing it well so far...and with a SMILE tehee.

    So i am so with you, the stigmas, the idea that we are less than intelligent or the labeling as CRAZY.....really gets under my skin so many times, and yet they don't realize that if they treat us as HUMANS not some kind of creature that is foreign to them then we'd be much better off coping per say

    ....but i fear my dear friend that this world is rather  a FIX IT NOW kinda world from surgical enhancements, to makeovers, material keep up witht the jones's , and never ever step outside the box ...remain in the mainstream of cloned behavior....

    .it is amazing how they feel they have no issues that others don't want to deal with either like their harsh words, their judgement without walking the mile in our shoes,

     

    the fact that i live in a very very small town has been a very wonderful experience when younger and i love my appalachian homeplace more than anything but you are so right.....coming out of the closet would change the perception of me (i used to be a teacher and hold a ba and masters in education) yet it matters not, the mass media, the rumors, the ones that DO go over the edge or aren't medicated or getting the help they need....seems to be all they remember....how sad that is....and yet i want NONE of their empathy or sympathy, i only want to be able to live my life the best way i can...i hurt and judge not anyone for their illnesses or even odd behavior but yet the scales aren't balanced, however, i have learned it makes ME a better person to not do these things that i myself have endured from  them....

    i believe bp is sort of a blessing of utilizing all parts of the brain that others have ignored or put the back of their subconscious levels and don't touch upon, there is so much  creativity, music, art, innovative ideas that come from so many bipolars in the past and present and future no doubt....

    but think this is just another hurdle we have to vault over....the stigma....

    but i am with you girl, i'm rapid cycling (VERY) mixed mood (VERY) bp and it is difficult if not impossible to avoid others knowing something isn't "right" per say....but i endure and i keep the faith that one day, yes one day there will be a better understanding of this illness and mostly because of people like you who are reaching out and "screaming from your closet door" (loved that statement you put).......if we stay silent it is like thunder as they prepare another lightning strike upon those of us who are less fortunate in the sense of being stable in our moods....but i dodge those bolts as much as i can that is for sure.

    Thank you for this post...and i am so with you, NO i don't reveal it to anyone and am sorry i even told SOME family members, so my opinion is what they don't know won't hurt them....unless your live in family and then it DOES affect them so feel they need to know a bit about it.....but othere than that MOUTH ZIPPED!!!
    GREAT TO MEET YOU GREAT POST>>>Hope you are doing well and avoiding the shadow of the judgement...hang tough and know there are many here who are so knowledgable and can help all of us out and we can help them too...

    nice to meet you, keep up the posting!!
    ctrygirl

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 19, 2008

      Ctrygirl...Thanks for sharing so many of your emotions, your feelings.  You "sing your song" very well.  It would be great if there were some easy answers to "coming out", but as you can see by my post and others, there unfortunately is not.  Guess we will always live in the "shadow of the judgment", as you say.  All we can do is keep "shuffling...

      RHMLucky777

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      Ctrygirl...Thanks for sharing so many of your emotions, your feelings.  You "sing your song" very well.  It would be great if there were some easy answers to "coming out", but as you can see by my post and others, there unfortunately is not.  Guess we will always live in the "shadow of the judgment", as you say.  All we can do is keep "shuffling off to Buffalo", one small step at a time.  Perhaps I will see some improvement in my lifetime, time will tell.  Thanks.

       

      Judy 

  • BiPoPastor
    Jun. 19, 2008

    I have been bipolar for 16 years, and a United Methodist pastor for the last eight of those. I would love to "come out" to a society that is warm, caring and understanding when it comes to mental illness. However, that society doesn't exist today. There are a few people here and there, but not enough to make being MI acceptable in society.

     

    In the ministry,...

    RHMLucky777

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    I have been bipolar for 16 years, and a United Methodist pastor for the last eight of those. I would love to "come out" to a society that is warm, caring and understanding when it comes to mental illness. However, that society doesn't exist today. There are a few people here and there, but not enough to make being MI acceptable in society.

     

    In the ministry, "coming out" would be a death sentence to a pastor. While people claim to be understanding and sympathetic, they wouldn't have the trust and faith in a pastor who is "sick in the brain". In their mind, they aren't assured that the advice given is with a "clear" head. (When a person develops a sickness of the body, people make haste TO the person. When that sickness is of the brain, as you know full well, people trip over themselves trying to get away FROM that person, while at the same time yelling back words of encouragement.

     

    By not revealing my illness, and showing people that a mentally ill person can live a productive life, I am really letting down our community. How are people to know what we can do unless we show them? I hide behind a veil of fear and rejection. It makes me sick, and adds stress to an already stressful bipolar existance. I want to make a stand, but ...

    • bipolarjourneycom
      Jun. 19, 2008

      For me same problem slightly different -my husband is a pastor.  It is hard.  There are so many expectations about the "preacher and his wife."  It is okay, though, it is okay to tell and it is okay not to tell.  I believe my time will come and when it does I will be able to help many.  I am just not ready to talk about and that is...

      RHMLucky777

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      For me same problem slightly different -my husband is a pastor.  It is hard.  There are so many expectations about the "preacher and his wife."  It is okay, though, it is okay to tell and it is okay not to tell.  I believe my time will come and when it does I will be able to help many.  I am just not ready to talk about and that is okay.

    • BiPoPastor
      Jun. 19, 2008

      Nice to hear from you, Bipolarjourney. People oftentimes forget about the pressure on a pastor's wife, but they are often scrutinized more than the pastor. My wife and I have been married 18 years (2nd marriage for both) and she was active at the beginning, but isn't now. She is a Qualified Mental Retardation Professional (QMRP) and manages a number of group...

      RHMLucky777

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      Nice to hear from you, Bipolarjourney. People oftentimes forget about the pressure on a pastor's wife, but they are often scrutinized more than the pastor. My wife and I have been married 18 years (2nd marriage for both) and she was active at the beginning, but isn't now. She is a Qualified Mental Retardation Professional (QMRP) and manages a number of group homes for developmentally disabled adults. She has her ministry, and I have mine.

       

      Blessings on you and your husbands ministry. Please keep me posted on how your journey is going!

       

      MichaelLaughing

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 19, 2008

      Winston...So eloquently put - sure would like to see you sharepost to bpc occasionally, time permitting that is.  Your viewpoint is well taken, well understood.  You are providing a wonderful service to your community, that's ALL that matters.  Thank you so much for your comments.

       

      Judy

    • BiPoPastor
      Jun. 19, 2008

      Judy,

       

      Thanks for the kind words. I have had a Sharepost since last Fall:

       

      http://www.healthcentral.com/bipolar/c/1023/profile

       

      Under Winston Smith.

       

      Thanks again, and blessings!

       

      Winston

    • freeda
      Jun. 19, 2008

      Winston, I am also a minister, and I can't deal with the stresses of having a regular congregation.  So I just work as a wedding officiant, which I can handle very well and it's not too much for me.  I'm also hoping to start a nursing home or assisted living facility ministry. 

       

      I'm grateful not to have the pressure of being our family's...

      RHMLucky777

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      Winston, I am also a minister, and I can't deal with the stresses of having a regular congregation.  So I just work as a wedding officiant, which I can handle very well and it's not too much for me.  I'm also hoping to start a nursing home or assisted living facility ministry. 

       

      I'm grateful not to have the pressure of being our family's primary earner - it must be very difficult for you to balance all those demands. 

    • Beth
      Jun. 20, 2008

      I am with you.  It's sad that we professionals cannot reveal our diagnosis, in effort to show a leader trying to live a positive life with bipolarism.

      I have taught children in grades K-8 since 1985.  I was always loved for my enthusiasm and energy.  After my diagnosis was told (not by me), I was the crazy teacher not the excellent teacher. ...

      RHMLucky777

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      I am with you.  It's sad that we professionals cannot reveal our diagnosis, in effort to show a leader trying to live a positive life with bipolarism.

      I have taught children in grades K-8 since 1985.  I was always loved for my enthusiasm and energy.  After my diagnosis was told (not by me), I was the crazy teacher not the excellent teacher.  And, yes, w/in 3 years after finding out, the administration had collected enough tiny pieces to string together the right to ask for my resignation.  Things that everyone else was doing too BUT I was bipolar.  Odd, she did tell me that I did an excellent job w/ the kids and my test scores were tops in the grade BUT she didn't want me there.  So, now, I have to try to find a job in education where I can be bipolar and work.  You know, that administrator comes from a family history of alcoholism/drug abuse/schizophrenia---I know that she was sheerly terrified from her own life experiences but why did she have to ruin my life w/ her baggage?

  • Anonymous
    Ro Ro
    Jun. 19, 2008

    It is simple as I've been sharing that I'm bi-polar.  My battle cry is I'm not a Movie Star but I am bi-polar.  If we had a visible inury or ailment that is known we would be quick to share.  I've paid my dues in life and society is ready. 

    Reactions  have been recoil or fear and then I address it.  That is part of our healing. ...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    It is simple as I've been sharing that I'm bi-polar.  My battle cry is I'm not a Movie Star but I am bi-polar.  If we had a visible inury or ailment that is known we would be quick to share.  I've paid my dues in life and society is ready. 

    Reactions  have been recoil or fear and then I address it.  That is part of our healing.  The lack of knowledge, the portrayal in media have made being Bi Polar a stigma. I have found the need to share it with friends and family because sometimes I get overtired, confused and anxious.  The person with you is at a complete loss, so you explain lovingly. 


    The brain is an organ and ours is special and needs a lifelong care. If your arm was broken you would seek out help.  Everyone would ask how you are or in the day sign your cast.  It is now difference. 


    After being diagnois 10 years ago, I have finally found the perfect cocktail with talk therapy.  The key is to listen to your body and your mind will respond.

    It's their problem not yours.  Your inner spirit tells you whom you wish to share.  Listen and follow your heart.

    Ro Ro

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 19, 2008

      RoRo...You are right, the problem is theirs, not ours. Many of us suffer because of the normies' way of thinking about mental illness.  It's just not right - but changing their thinking is not going to happen any time soon.  Each of us can make small differences, in our own time, in our own way. 

       

      You're right,...

      RHMLucky777

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      RoRo...You are right, the problem is theirs, not ours. Many of us suffer because of the normies' way of thinking about mental illness.  It's just not right - but changing their thinking is not going to happen any time soon.  Each of us can make small differences, in our own time, in our own way. 

       

      You're right, any other illness is treated and understood.  Doctors shock the heart, and a miracle is performed; doctors shock the brain and it's unfathomable.  We live in the dark ages when it comes to care of the brain.

       

      I'm glad to hear that you are open and honest with your bipolarness - we all SHOULD be, but it's not that simple.  It often depends on one's personal experiences and how they conceive their illness.

      Thanks for your post.

       

      Judy

    • Ro Ro
      Jun. 19, 2008

      Dear J.

      In addition to my medications, my affirmations are:

      The God consciousness in me expresses itself In Health, in Calmness, in Peace, in Power and in Happiness.


      I am calm and cheerful; I hate no one; I envy no one; there is no worry or fear in me; I trust in God all the time.

      I say it and believe and I've reduced my aniexty. That 1/2 of Clonazepam is slowly...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Dear J.

      In addition to my medications, my affirmations are:

      The God consciousness in me expresses itself In Health, in Calmness, in Peace, in Power and in Happiness.


      I am calm and cheerful; I hate no one; I envy no one; there is no worry or fear in me; I trust in God all the time.

      I say it and believe and I've reduced my aniexty. That 1/2 of Clonazepam is slowly being eliminated from my just in case group.

      Also taking my meds at the same time every day, keeps the chemistry level.  Also no sugar and white flour levels my gulcose.  

      We are a special group with a sensitive disorder.  Hey, birthday cake makes me nasty.

      Thanks for the e-mail and the support.

  • birdbreather
    Jun. 18, 2008

     

    It is so true. I haven't told anyone. I am just too afraid. Once the horse is out of the barn it may not be possible to get him back in.

    • Beth
      Jun. 20, 2008

      You are very wise.  The horse and barn analogy is very appropriate!  You will never get the horse all of the way back in the barn without some blade of grass or chunk of land being affected SO stick with your decision and keep the barn locked.  I wish I had done so.   good luck.

  • Chato B Stewart of Mental Health Humor
    Jun. 18, 2008

    I have lost jobs, friends, and even almost my own after I was vocal about my disorder...

    BUT You know what, I lost jobs, friends and even my almost my own life before I told anyone about it...

     

    THE POINT- sooner or later people will know or come to there own conclusions anyway.  So why not take control of the information?  I'm not saying run...

    RHMLucky777

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    I have lost jobs, friends, and even almost my own after I was vocal about my disorder...

    BUT You know what, I lost jobs, friends and even my almost my own life before I told anyone about it...

     

    THE POINT- sooner or later people will know or come to there own conclusions anyway.  So why not take control of the information?  I'm not saying run up and down the street yelling it, that will TELL EVERYONE true and get you a 3 day vacation, but I have found it that the more I talk about Bipolar Disorder the more I have the straight to keep my balance and conviction to stay well...

     

    I know that is not easy for every one, and in some cases speaking up will cause us some anxiety and true we may lose jobs, friends but we will keep our lives, our dignity and our sanity.

    Chato B.  Stewart
    Mental Health Advocate - Cartoonist - and a few other  things!
    http://www.mentalhealthhumor.today.com

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 18, 2008

      Chato...thanks for your comments and opinions.  For many of us, it's fine to talk about our illness openly, for others it is not.  I use discretion and mostly share my bipolarness with my support group.

       

      This illness has been my "cross to bear" for several years.  Guess I have my own internal stigma from days gone by - before my diagnosis. ...

      RHMLucky777

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      Chato...thanks for your comments and opinions.  For many of us, it's fine to talk about our illness openly, for others it is not.  I use discretion and mostly share my bipolarness with my support group.

       

      This illness has been my "cross to bear" for several years.  Guess I have my own internal stigma from days gone by - before my diagnosis.  When I was a kid, we had two guys in our small town that were "different", mentally ill.  My friends and I used to poke fun at them and call them "mental".  I've never forgotten how we treated them.

       

      Judy

  • Anonymous
    tabby
    Jun. 18, 2008

    I am actually fearful at times that someone "will" find out because since being diagnosed in 2006 (though have had it since 70s) the very few that have either "found out" or I disclosed to have had a change of attitude towards me.  This includes, very much, my "family".

     

    I was already the "family joke" when they just thought I had depression and...

    RHMLucky777

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    I am actually fearful at times that someone "will" find out because since being diagnosed in 2006 (though have had it since 70s) the very few that have either "found out" or I disclosed to have had a change of attitude towards me.  This includes, very much, my "family".

     

    I was already the "family joke" when they just thought I had depression and wouldn't pull myself up by my bootstraps quick enough for them.  They enjoyed the hypo-manic me, oh yes.  They rolled their eyes and sarcastically responded to my suicidal depressions.

     

    Now that they know of the Bipolar, I am accused of having Bipolar "fits" and am incapable of functioning in society as we know it and yet, given the emotional upheavals this illness brings - I'm doing relatively good considering, in the functioning state of things.  There are periods where I basically stop functioning, I'll admit but thankfully to God, I do swing back up or settle back down depending on the direction I was a swinging.

     

    Friends who either "found out" or I disclosed - gone.  I've also faced some discrimination at work (I worked as an admin in my local MH center & the director found out due to me having to file - through him - family leave papers).  I'm facing some now because I had to explain why I've needed time out these last few months in addition to my physical appointments and I wanted to be "protected" through ADA.

     

    Co-workers who know, cause it does get around don't fool yourselves, cast a weary eye towards me.  I try to laugh it off, their sometimes comments, but inside it unsettles me.

     

    I'm literally afraid as if I have a deep dark secret no one can know about.  I guess I do, really.

    • Rosebud
      Jun. 18, 2008

      Well you don't have to keep your deep dark secret here, my friend.  Here you are accepted as you are - mood swings and all !!  We all can relate and understand and do not stand in judgement.  We're all out here in cyberspace cheering you on. 

       

      My story is a bit different.  I have had severe mood swings all of my life.  I...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Well you don't have to keep your deep dark secret here, my friend.  Here you are accepted as you are - mood swings and all !!  We all can relate and understand and do not stand in judgement.  We're all out here in cyberspace cheering you on. 

       

      My story is a bit different.  I have had severe mood swings all of my life.  I was never a shy child - bashful perhaps, but never shy.  I was officially diagnosed a year ago with bipolar following a suicide attempt which followed being raped .... ugh, still hard for me to write that word.  I am more ashamed and embarrassed about the rape then I am about people knowing I have a mental illness.  When word got around my high school that I was bipolar, people actually came up to me and said things like, "Oh, that explains why you had those melt downs"  I took it as a sign that people now understood and I was actually relieved. 

       

      I live in NJ and the wife of our former activing governor, Dick Cody, made public television commercials about post-partum depression and MI.  She talked about how there's nothing to be embarrassed about and how there is help out there.  The Abilify commercials help too.  So, little by little it is being put out there for society to bite on, chew up and digest.

       

    • HeyJude
      Jun. 18, 2008

      Tabby...It seems the longer we have this illness, the more we feel that we should be able to "come out".  You are right, people seem to change their attitude once they know.  Sorry you have lost friends and have a family that does not understand.  My family really doesn't understand this illness, but they accept me for who I am.  I've lost...

      RHMLucky777

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      Tabby...It seems the longer we have this illness, the more we feel that we should be able to "come out".  You are right, people seem to change their attitude once they know.  Sorry you have lost friends and have a family that does not understand.  My family really doesn't understand this illness, but they accept me for who I am.  I've lost some friends, but were they REALLY friends?  I rather doubt it.

       

      I've been lucky about keeping jobs.  I worked for the Dept. of Defense for 15 years, had two hospitalizations, and was welcomed back with open arms.  But a certain percentage of hires have to be disabled.  And that includes bipolar, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  If anybody should be accepting of bipolar, you think it would be a CMHC.  You should have fought it.

       

      Judy