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…