Revealing a secret you’ve held from most people for most of your life is not easy. I thought that I needed to make it my mission to tell those around me I am bipolar because I really want to do my part in lifting this overwhelming stigma, but am I going about it the right way?
In my previous blog “One Step at a Time,” I told you how I planned to finally divulge my secret to the Lion’s Club. Well, days before I started having nightmares about turning into an alien, a monster, and even a serial killer, which left me feeling uneasy and apprehensive when it finally came down to the day. I almost called it off or just opted not to tell, but when only five other ladies arrived instead of the twelve I was expecting, I relaxed a little.
I presented the BringChange2Mind.org website to the ladies and then told them that I was bipolar. Unfortunately, I became nervous and had to stop to take a deep breath. The ladies took it all in stride and we all started talking about the commercial and mood disorders in general. We all agreed that the stigma is a major problem which might be alleviated if we talked about it more. I introduced NAMI to the ladies and then told them all about the treatment center for children and adolescents with mental illness.
We piled into a van and headed to the center, where we went on a tour of the facilities. The ladies were surprised with all the services available to the public. Even most if not all of them were outraged to learn that obviously needed programs were being cut because the government was pulling its funding. We talked a lot about mental health programs and the various levels of funding that is needed to operate such a wonderful center.
When we returned to our original meeting place, the ladies were thankful that we did and learned something different for a change. They even bragged to their husbands about having a good time.
The nightmares stopped afterwards when I realized that I was afraid and nervous that whole time before it was my first revelation. I was worried that I was going to be alienated from the rest of them, which wasn’t the case at all. I hope it won’t be awkward when I see them again.
I guess only time will tell if this will have a positive or negative effect on my life and/or the stigma in general.
Are there any instances in your life that telling people about your mood disorder has made a positive or negative impact on your life?