For so many years, I resented having to stay closeted about my bipolar disorder. If only the world were different and I could just tell people about my disease. If only the horrible stigma didn’t exist. If only I could talk about this openly with all of my friends, with my coworkers, with whoever I chose.
Earlier today, I had lunch with a new friend who suffers from PTSD, and she was describing her experience of living with what she calls an “invisible illness.” That term resonated with me because my illness isn’t something anyone knows about unless I choose to tell them.
And that’s when I realized that as much as I want the bipolar stigma to be lifted—for our disease to be defined as something other than ‘crazy’ by the culture—I also appreciate a luxury I’d not consciously realized I had until today: and that’s the luxury of choice.
I have the luxury of choosing who I tell about this disease and who I don’t tell.
If you focus on all of the people you can’t share your truth with because they won’t understand you, you will drive yourself batty. Better to shift your energy towards finding a community of like-minded individuals online, in a support group, wherever, and accepting that to some people, your illness will always be invisible.
I used to feel so frustrated that I couldn’t really talk with my family about this disease. But now I’ve realized that they’re not the ones to whom I need to share this story. My sisters and parents are loving and supportive. That’s what I need from them. For a community of people to talk to about various issues related to bipolar disorder, I have formed trusted friendships, I have a therapist, a life coach, and I have this blog. Thank you for being there.