You are here

Why I Tell Everyone That I Have Bipolar Disorder

Heather Foster

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”.  

Comments

Thank you, I really needed to read your story right now.

Jenne,

Thank you very much! I am so glad you liked it. We are all in this together :)

Heather Foster

I love this article. I feel the same way about my Bipolar 1 diagnoses.

Thank you for your recent post. I have recently come out in the open more about my illness. Bipolar 2. People like you and your writings is what helps me remember why I have become more open to my illness. Again, Thank you. :)

Your story sounded like my life.My heart goes out to you because I feel the pain you have gone though to get to this point.I make it very well know I have Bipolar because by doing this we break the stigma and I find people that are suffering are more inclined to come talk to me .which I personal would perfer then have them suffer in silence .The more we put it out there more we break the fear and stigma.This path and be a very lonely path ,but it doesn't have to be that way .thankyou

Thank you. I was recently diagnosed with bipolar 2 and borderline personality disorder and after reading this I can't tell you how much it helped me. I feel relaxed and not ashamed. And most importantly not alone.

Katie,

You are never alone. Always remember that. We are all here to support each other :) Thank you for reading.

Heather

Thank you for your story. Being Bipolar I did a lot of writing.Most were about how I felt on that day. Most of them were on the dark side of bipolar. It really helped me when I would write my feelings down.

Frank,

You are welcome. I agree that writing helps me a lot in times of trouble :) Thank you for reading!

Heather

Thank you for writing this. I am certain many of us can relate. Iived for years with the diagnosis, not understanding it at all. My family refused to believe it for years, which made it even more frustrating and hurtful. Finally, I came to live with them…and tada! Guess what. They all agree I have bipolar and have educated on the subject. And I believe it has helped me a great deal just knowing they are not accusing; but understanding. I had a breakthrough the other day. I was alone in my room; nothing had changed around me…it was quiet; and suddenly my good mood turned to aggitated mess and I wanted to just lash out at someone. But, I stopped myself. I recognized that it wasn't everyone else that was responsible for my mood; this thing that came out of nowhere was my disease. It has taken me almost 2 decades to get to that point. Just wanted to share…thanks again for this place. :)

Well done sister ! I have experienced PTSD an eating disorder , and list natal depression ! I got the mental illness trifecta , and how blessed do I feel ? Fabulous as I now spend my days as a mental health first aid instructor and trainer sharing my story also . In doing this your giving permission for others to speak up . Check out The Anxious Bird on Facebook or Twitter . I've taken this another step with my art ! Keep up the blogging girlfriend !!! Yeah for honest people like you . Happy flying Jules x

I love your attitude.I have a similar attitude that those of us who do come out to everyone without fear and shame are doing the work of normalizing our illness to the world. The more we cower in the closet the more we allow stigma to control us. Love the "kill them with normal" philosophy. I'm proud to be a normal person with a mental illness because we all know that everyone either has a mental illness or knows and loves someone who has one. Why be ashamed? Why let those closed minded people win? Speak out. Speak up. Don't let stigma win or keep you from living your life with pride for how hard you work to maintain your normalcy. Thanks for sharing your story.

I am 32 with three kids, this article feels like it is my life. i am bipolar, bpd and have ptsd. have had problems with cocaine and my oldest was born on his due date. i am currently not medicaided and am wondering if i should go back on them.

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.