I hope you will enjoy this sneak peak into my book. This is a chapter called Stigma. Again, please be advised that my book was written solely by me and details only my experiences. Yours may be completely different!
Chapter 20 – Stigma
January 28, 2014
Opening up about my life and what I have been through for well over twenty years, is one of the scariest things I have ever done. I had no idea what the reaction was going to be from friends and family. Did I really want them to know, and was I ready for the backlash? Once I came forward, I’m sure plenty of people thought, “Well, that explains that!” Those people don’t concern me. It’s the people that instantly judge based on little or no facts that trouble me.
The stigma that surrounds depression and anxiety is staggering. In my own personal experience, once someone finds out I am bipolar, I am rarely taken seriously again. People will be nice to your face, with a condescending smile, asking you how you are. All the while worrying you are going to flip out and kill them for even asking. That’s my favorite part about this condition. You can’t watch a true crime show anymore without discovering that the guy who killed eighty-seven people is bipolar. Let me tell you, it warms your heart.
People are almost always afraid of what they don’t understand, and I get that. But, I’m still the same person. Depression isn’t the only characteristic I have. I will probably always resent those people who walked out of my life at the darkest times. People don’t always know what to say or do, so they just avoid you all together. That infuriates me. I’m the last person to turn my back on someone, and I at least expect that common courtesy from friends and family.
Sure, there are going to be times when I make plans with someone, and I can’t follow through because my symptoms are just too debilitating that day. I may get angry or cry for some reason unbeknownst to anyone, but it’s still me inside of here. I have a whole drawer full of medications, and I may jump to conclusions, be a control freak, and cry my eyes out all in about a ten minute time frame, but I am still here.
I still have feelings, especially when someone turns their back on me because of depression. Someone said of my recent hospitalization that I was selfish. I still laugh at the image of me sitting in a corner trying to hog all the depression to myself. As if it’s a fun little novelty that allows me to have no control over my thoughts or emotions. It’s a double-edged sword really. You want your disease to be taken seriously, because you never know when you might need real help. On the other hand, you don’t want it taken so seriously that everyone you know puts you on his or her own personal little suicide watch. There’s no happy medium for something like this. There’s no happy anything.
You just have to deal with it, and hope that your friends and family will understand that it’s going to be a bumpy ride. If they just keep their hands and arms inside the bus, they will get there in one piece. The advice I don’t have? Where to find these people that will stick it out with you. I have an amazing husband that I adore, and a handful of friends that I can count on. Even if they don’t understand what the hell is going on with me, they are there.
So, now that I have shared some of my deepest, darkest secrets with the public, how do I feel? The same actually. Maybe I feel a little better knowing I don’t have to carry the entire burden around with me all the time.
I have to admit, it has been incredibly rewarding having total strangers reach out to me and say that my words have helped them understand their feelings, or my Facebook page helps them get through the day. It’s gratifying, and it’s one of the main reasons I decided to come forward. You have helped me just as much as I have helped you, if not more. For that, I thank you.