(This post first appeared on one of my blog sites, “PS I’m Bipolar”, where I decided to write under a pseudonym.)
No matter how well you explain yourself, there are certain people who just won’t understand what mental illness is. Bipolar is not an easy illness to understand and there will be people in your life who just won’t see reason when it comes to trying to understand you.
It is very frustrating the way people see mental illnesses as being so distinct from physical illnesses- an illness is an illness, plain and simple.
I am so tired of trying to explain why I am the way I am and I really think that I should be able to just be me.
I have been told that “mental illness is not an excuse”, well no one said it was, but I am allowed to stay home, or avoid situations if I feel I will be set off. There are toxic people who can be triggers too and seeing them as little as possible would be ideal.
It is so insulting that certain people look at me and don’t understand how I can work, and live away from my parents and “function” and be engaged and starting to plan a wedding, but not be able to attend certain social events. The amount of energy it takes for me to get through the work week is all of the energy I have- the reserve is empty by the weekend. No one knows my brain/body better than me and there is nothing worse than knowing you will have an anxiety attack, having anxiety about having anxiety, and then going somewhere and having an anxiety attack.
I have to come to terms that people won’t understand me. I do not want everyone to necessarily know what it feels like, just to understand what it means when I can’t attend an event and need to stay home, or feel safe. Maybe it is coddling myself, maybe it is my way of coping, but it is my choice.
I just want to wake up one day and to be able to openly talk about bipolar disorder when I want to, where I want to and not worry about someone looking at me as if I have leprosy. People are afraid of what they don’t understand. I am fortunate that certain people do understand me and I can let my guard down and get rid of the facade.
I am not a phony person, I like being genuine and to be anything other than that is hard. I don’t pretend to be someone else in public, it’s just a toned down version, and I suppress the mood swings and the highs and lows.
“If you judge someone, you have no time to love them” – Mother Teresa
I first read this quote when I was in grade 8 (1998) and it is stuck with me ever since. Most likely because I have encountered bullies in elementary school, high school, luckily not in university, but unfortunately in my post-grad program in college and in the workplace. There will always be bullies and I have found a safe work environment now and only have the friends I want to have in my life.
Unfortunately, there are some people you just can’t avoid (like future in-laws) who have no rhyme or reason for acting a certain way towards you and make you feel like having a mental illness, means you can never have a bad day, be anxious, or miss an event. Because missing an event makes you a bad person and means you are disinterested and pick and choose what you want to go to.
As I said, some people will just never understand…hence the reason for using a pseudonym instead of my real name, because certain people might not appreciate my opinions!