Why wouldn’t I?
I am a very blunt and honest person and I don’t often beat around the bush. I do not ever make excuses for who I am…to anyone. Why would I ever hide a very important part of me?
I wasn’t always so forthright with my diagnosis. I have been diagnosed with bipolar 1 (rapid cycle), borderline personality disorder and PTSD. It is a gnarly combo. My first symptoms reared up in early childhood. My grandma used to call me the “Princess Dictator” as I would round up all of the kids in the neighborhood and make them put on plays and musicals to my meticulous specifications. It was pretty heavy stuff for a 7 year old.
I spent a lot of time in high school living fast. I was in power in nearly all school groups, a member of almost all extracurricular and an avid sexaholic and drug addict. My drug of choice was cocaine, as it kept me going during my depressive phases when I couldn’t keep up with everything I had committed to. My symptoms were pretty typical of severe bipolar disorder and addiction, but growing up with my grandparents proved to be an easy way to get away with such debauchery.
When I met my husband I stopped all of my partying, drugs and random sexual encounters. My symptoms became more severe without my drug and sex filled security blanket. I had no outlet and I was controlled by my moods for the first time. I feel pregnant about 2 years into our relationship. My pregnancy went smoothly and my son Gabriel was born nearly to the day I was due.
Three weeks after my son was born I had my first nervous breakdown. My husband worked full time and I was left at home with a baby who wouldn’t breastfeed. I was terrified and I began rapid cycling and drinking several bottles of wine a night. It didn’t last long. Joe insisted I make an appointment for postpartum depression. After speaking to my doctor he suggested that my symptoms were more reminiscent of bipolar disorder than postpartum depression. I was immediately scared off.
A few years passed before I had my daughter. After I gave birth to her my symptoms became uncontrollable and unbearable. I was going from buzzing around the house cleaning to crying on the couch in minutes. It was a very scary time for me. I went to the doctor this time (as the wait time for a psychiatrist on Medicaid was over a year) and let him know the previous diagnosis of bipolar disorder. He sent me to a counselor who also diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder and PTSD.
Since then I have been very stable aside from a few times I stopped my meds. I am very happy now. But back to the original point…Why do I tell everyone I have Bipolar Disorder? I tell them because I am not ashamed of it. I tell them because I refuse to hide in the shadows afraid of what people may think if they find out. I won’t do that to myself. I have enough to deal with.
Surprisingly, I have found this very blunt approach works very well to educate the people I speak to. Now that I am medicated, it would be very difficult to know I have bipolar disorder. And even unmediated, I was still a very fun person to be around. It was misery for me…not others.
I find happiness in writing now; a job I never thought I would occupy. I spend my time writing and promoting mental health awareness and education. My goal has been and always will be…to “Kill’em with Normal”. The “normal” people are afraid of mental illness because they don’t understand it. They only see the most severe semi-truthful forms portrayed by the media. Tell people you have a mental illness, you may be surprised at their reaction. People with mental illness are just like everyone else. We are husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, friends, family, coworkers….PEOPLE. Most importantly, we are people. Next time you are trying to hide your diagnosis…remember “Kill’ em with Normal”.