Shhhhh…It’s a Secret

secrets

Yesterday, after my epic post, ItalianHurricane posed the question, “You still don’t talk about your disorder, right?  Nobody knows in New Orleans?”  This made me think about how I navigate in my world with this giant, pink elephant in the room.  Part of me wants to shout it from the rooftops, but I know that would be social suicide.  Mental illness is still a very taboo subject and people get scared when they are faced with the fact that someone they know suffers.  It simply makes people uncomfortable.

This blog is not completely anonymous.  I haven’t told many people that I am writing again, but I do include my picture and have revealed enough about myself that if, by chance, someone that I know happens upon this blog, they would immediately know it is me.  I am not going to advertise this blog on Facebook and I’m not going to shout it from the rooftops that I am writing again.  This is my safe place, so far, and it is nice to have some anonymity in telling my story.  I am overwhelmed by the positive response I have received since starting this blog two weeks ago and I am going to continue to let it grow organically.

Back to ItalianHurricane’s question.  No, I don’t talk about my disorder in real life.  No one, except for a few select close people know that I have bipolar disorder.  I think that if I tell them, it will make me seem handicapped, and I am not handicapped.  I just move through my world a little differently than others – a little more anxiously, as it were.  I don’t tell my employers that I have this condition.  However, I will be applying for FMLA status with my next employer.  This will be my insurance policy so I do not lose my job if I miss work due to anxiety.  I don’t want to do it, but I need to protect myself and my income.  That means they can’t fire me because of my condition, even though I will have to reveal my big secret.  I think I am okay with that.

As we don’t really have many friends here, I don’t have anyone to tell about my diagnosis.  As I explained in my Friends post, everyone abandoned us after I got sick.  People just don’t deal well when you change your story.  My story changed in a massive way and I went from being outgoing and bubbly to depressed and drugged.  Needless to say, our social calendar is wide open.

I don’t know when the right time would be to reveal to a new friend that I have this condition.  I don’t want to lie about it, because it is such a huge part of who I am now, but I also don’t want to scare anyone away.  I guess it goes back to the idea that only those that are accepting and understanding are truly worthy of a friendship.  I’m tired of lying and hiding, but this secret is a doozy.  It’s up there with schizophrenia and if I am honest with myself, I would take having bipolar over schizophrenia any day.  I couldn’t handle the hallucinations.  However, I would never not be friends with someone because they had an illness.

Discrimination.  That is the root of all the rejection that my husband and I have experienced since my break.  That, and ignorance.  People are afraid of what they don’t understand.  If someone wanted to talk to me about my condition, I would be very open about my experiences.  I just have yet to find someone who really wants to talk about it.

Let me say this, I have a friend base that goes back to my younger years.  They have not walked away and only offer support and encouragement.  I am lucky to have them, even if I am only able to connect with them through the computer and texts.  It’s just the new friends that I have come across that are not accepting.  Maybe it’s because it is harder to make friends as an adult – you already know who you are and what you like and to bring someone into your life who is a little “off” can seem daunting.  This makes things lonely on the friend front.

My husband can’t be my everything.  I don’t expect him to be, but there is a lot of pressure on him and me, for that matter, to make each other feel fulfilled and nurtured.  That is why I am really enjoying the outreach of support I have received through this blog.  The encouraging words and compliments really push me forward to keep writing.  It’s nice to know that I haven’t lost all my writing skills and can complete a coherent statement.

So, thank you for being my virtual friends and reading what I have to say.  You are aiding in my recovery and giving me a confidence boost to head out and try to meet new people in New Orleans.  The real test will be when I reveal my big secret…

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12 thoughts on “Shhhhh…It’s a Secret

  1. The decision of who to tell and when is difficult, as you’ve said. I like to think I’m open to disclosing my mental health issues with the world. After all, I’m doing a blog and writing a book putting it all out there. But for some reason I don’t want my peers at my part time job to know yet. I just don’t know what reaction I would receive…

    • I know exactly how you feel. It is hard knowing who you can trust, even if it is such a big part of who you are. People are fickle and I’m sure you don’t want to do anything to jeopardize your employment. It’s tough knowing who to trust.

  2. You’ll work it out, Darl, talking about it will eventually happen in an organic, natural way eventually where you’re not apologising and not fearful…it’s early days for you guys as well as your friends. Hang in there. Red

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