Since I have been publicly sharing my bipolar disorder diagnosis I have had some very interesting responses from other people. Most of the time people are very supportive, however, when they start to know a bit more about the struggle sometimes the questioning looks begin to happen. Here are my top four reasons Why It’s Hard to Share a Mental Illness Diagnosis.
#1 – People wonder if you are “crazy”
The general public has so little information on mental illness they don’t have a true idea on what the struggle really is about. Granted there might be some “crazy” times in the world of a person who lives with severe mental illness. But I have also personally experienced many times where I am really rather quite normal. If I am really “crazy” you will know it.
#2 – They think you are always sick
Had a bad day? Stressed out over life changes? Not in a good mood? The moment I am not my usual friendly self, sometimes I get very strange looks from people who mean very well, but don’t realize I am not always sick. There are days when I am simply having a bad day. Everyone has those days. I just don’t get the leeway like everyone else.
#3 – People don’t believe you can recover
When I say I struggle and I battle and I fight bipolar disorder, this really means I manage it. I work extremely hard at being “normal.” Not everyone can get their illness to the point where they feel as if they have recovered. I am not one of those people. I have several occasions where I have been either extremely manic or so depressed I could not get out of bed, but I always get better and return to a fairly high level of activity.
#4 – Oh the stigma
There are countless misunderstandings about mental illness that is created as a result of stigma. Stigma is shame. Shame causes silence. Silence hurts us all. This is my number one reason why I am an advocate. There more I talk about living with bipolar disorder, hopefully the more people will see that I am more like everyone else than I am different. I just happen to struggle with an illness that effects my brain. Does that make me a crazy, wacko, nuts or psyhco? I don’t think so. The more people come into contact with someone who is open about their mental illness the faster we can eliminate stigma.
My message to those who live with a mental illness is: Keep talking about it or start talking about it. Don’t be afraid. Because all of these obstacles I mentioned can be overcome. That’s how change occurs.