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Stigma

Rebecca Lombardo

Opening up about my life and what I have been through for well over 20 years, was the scariest thing I have ever done. I had no idea what the reaction was going to be from friends and family. Did I really want them to know, and was I ready for the backlash? Once you come forward with information such as this, I am sure there are plenty of people thinking in the back of their minds, “Well, that explains a lot”.  Those people don’t concern me.  It’s the people that instantly judge based on little or no facts that concern me. 

The stigma that surrounds depression and anxiety is staggering. Once someone finds out you are Bipolar you are rarely taken seriously ever again.  People will be nice to your face, with a condescending smile, asking you how you are, all the while worried you are going to flip out and kill them for even asking. That’s my favorite part about this condition. You can’t watch a true crime show anymore without discovering that the guy who killed 87 people is Bipolar. 

Let me tell you, it warms your heart. 

People are almost always afraid of what they don’t understand, and I get that. But, I am still the same person I have always been.  Depression isn’t the only characteristic I have. I will probably always resent those people who walked out of my life at the darkest times.  I get it believe me…..you don’t always know what to say or do, so you just avoid the person all together.  That makes me very angry. I am the last person to turn my back on someone, and I at least expect that common courtesy from friends and family. 

Yet, that damn stigma gets you again. 

Sure, there are going to be times when I make plans with someone and I can’t follow through because my symptoms are just too bad that day. I may get angry or cry for some reason unbeknownst to anyone, but it’s still me inside of here. I have a whole drawer full of medications, and I may jump to conclusions, be a control freak, and cry my eyes out all in about a 10 minute time frame, but I am still HERE!! 

I still have feelings, especially when someone turns their back on my because of depression. Someone said of my recent hospitalization that I was just being selfish. I still kind of laugh about the image of me sitting in a corner trying to hog all the depression to myself. As if it’s a fun little novelty that allows me to have no control over my thoughts or emotions.  It’s a double edged sword really. You want your disease to be taken seriously, because you never know when you might need real help. On the other hand, you don’t want it taken so seriously that everyone you know puts you on their own personal little suicide watch. There’s no happy medium for something like this.  There’s no happy anything. 

You just have to deal with it, and hope that your friends and family will understand that it’s going to be a bumpy ride, but if they keep their hands and arms inside the bus, they will get there all in one piece. Trust me, I’ve been there and I know it can happen. The advice I don’t have?  Where to find these people that will stick it out with you. I’ve got a couple. A wonderful husband that I adore and a best friend that I have had since 5th grade.  Even if they may not understand what the hell is going on with me, they are there. 

So, now that I have shared some of my deepest, darkest secrets with the public, how do I feel?

The same really. Maybe a little lighter knowing I don’t have to carry the entire burden around with me all the time. 

I have to admit, in some respects it has been very, very rewarding to have total strangers come to me and say that my blog has helped them to no longer feel alone, or my Facebook page helps them get through the day. Almost every day, I hear something wonderful from someone that it seems I might have helped. It’s gratifying, and it’s one of the reasons I started this blog. Thank you to those of you who have been reading,

I appreciate you.

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Comments

I'm going to cry!!! I wrote an opposing, but nice view and I hit the wrong key!!! Now I have to start all over <sniff, sniff>

I can totally relate to what you wrote. I just can't understand stigma based on ignorance and fear. I am bipolar I but have always been a mild, non-aggressive person. When manic I am friendly, empathic, creative. I am never psychotic. I am a teacher and I'm better at my job when manic. The kids appreciate it. Most adults don't. Even people I've helped when they were in trouble shirk away. It's very painful. Only now, after decades, am I slowly learning to let go of people whom I love but who hurt me with their insensitive rejection.

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