For me, the decision to be open and honest about my mental conditions was an easy one. I don’t understand why saying “Hello, I’m bipolar and have PTSD” needs to be something negative. And yet, it is. I chose to be open because I don’t want my children to grow up in a world that places social stigmas on something I can’t prevent. I didn’t choose this life for myself or my family. Who would? I understand I can’t change everyone all at once. I get that in some way, there will always be a negative view of those of us who suffer. I can’t change the way I am. But I CAN change the way the world looks at me. Even if it’s as small as a handful of people that I meet, it’s something.
I choose not to let people think I’m just a ‘crazy person’. My friends and coworkers interact with me every day, and when I tell them about my diagnosis, 100% of them think I’m joking. “You don’t act bipolar!” (PS… How does one ACT bipolar?). What, just because I’m not rocking back and forth in a straitjacket a few times a week, I’m clinically incapable of having a mental disorder? I, fortunately, am one of the lucky ones who is actually fully functional. I’m able to hold a steady job, take care of my children, have a successful marriage, and attend graduate school. Yes, it takes a lot of work and there are some very trying days, but I do it. And because I am successful, educated, and loved, I see it as my purpose in this world to educate the public for those who are unable to have these things, or for those who are incapable of speaking for themselves out of the fear that society has instilled in them. We are here, but we can no longer play the silent role.
Choosing to this path is not a decision to be taken lightly. It can have major effects on your personal and professional life. Deciding to tell my family was a very difficult decision for me. I knew there would be questions, but was I truly prepared for what their responses would be? I was also worried about what would happen when my daughters are old enough to fully understand what it is I go through. I wondered if one of their friend’s moms might happen across my blog one day, and decide that their daughter can’t come over to our house anymore. What then? Will my daughters be subject to merciless teasing because of my decision?
But, I did it (obviously J ). There were some mixed reactions across the board, but surprisingly, it was received very positively. My family has always been my biggest supporters, and that will never change. Their outpouring of love over my decision to even do this blog was just a complete shock to me. They will never understand what their words meant to me. So yes, while there are some skeptics out there that may believe I’m using my ‘illness’ to do and say whatever I want, I know for a fact that I have the biggest support system I could have ever asked for. I want that for everyone with a mental disorder. I want you to be able to one day go to your best friend, your aunt, your future husband, ANYONE… look them in the eye, and state with courage that you have a mental disorder. And I want nothing more than for them to look right back at you without skipping a beat, and say that it’s going to be ok.
Because it is. You’ve got this. I’m fighting for you. One word at a time.