Never let another person's opinion of yourself be your view of yourself. Winston Churchill said, "We are still masters of our fate. We are still captains of our souls." No one can take that away from you. Don't be afraid to let your voice be heard. You are not alone. Keep trying to get the positive message out about Mental Illness and Bipolar Disorder. Author, Mary Anne Radmacher said, "Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying 'I will try again tomorrow.'" Maybe, one day, you'll have to give up on those who don't "get it", but NEVER give up on yourself.
Let me begin by telling you a story. A true story of how I “came out” to some friends about having Bipolar Disorder.
I was naïve about my illness back then. Way back. When my diagnosis was still very new. What I thought was sharing with others, took on a whole new meaning when sharing became “scaring.”
That’s what happened to those few friends I told in the beginning. They ran scared and I lost contact with them. Or better said, they stopped contacting me. I was horrified that my mental illness was going to make me lose all of my friends.
I stopped telling people. Completely. I played off my moods and lapses of contact when I was depressed with little white lies about being busy and menopausal. No longer would I ever give my friends a chance to leave me behind, hurt and forgotten.
However, the more I learned about my mental illness and Bipolar Disorder, the more I discovered, I wasn’t alone. There were so many people willing to talk about their issues online. So, I spoke up. Online in discussion groups specifically created for people “like me”.
I brought family members into my confidence first. Once I knew how to tell them without freaking them out. Then, with the help of friends online, I spoke to a few close friends and their reaction was of support and love.
Bolstered by those reactions, I grew happier about speaking up. Having Bipolar Disorder wasn’t something to be ashamed of, it was something to share with people and help them understand more completely what it was and how they can help others.
I remember the first time I spoke up about having Bipolar Disorder to my authors’ group. There must have been 50-75 people there and I was so nervous. But, I forged on, not letting my fear break me down. I stood up. Told my story. Sat down. And everyone clapped. After the meeting, many came up to me and offered their support and prayers and love. It was overwhelming. I knew I no longer had to be afraid to tell anyone about my illness. Not so long as I wasn’t afraid to hear their response.
And, I no longer am afraid. If I tell someone and they give me an adverse reaction, it’s their problem, not mine. I offer to educate and inform, but if that still doesn’t get a positive response, then I let them go their way, as we probably weren’t meant to follow the same path.
I love speaking about mental illness and having Bipolar Disorder. I’ve created websites and blogs to help advocate for others with the same issues. And, one that I’m most proud of is being a blogger for the International Bipolar Foundation.
I am not alone, neither are you. Speak up. Be proud. If Glenn Close can stand up with her sister in a commercial seen by millions of people, you can stand up in your area as well. Get involved with local groups that are particular to Bipolar Disorder or Mental Illness. Find support online.
International Bipolar Foundation
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Support 4 Hope
Everyday Health – Bipolar Support Groups
National Institute of Mental Health
Bipolar and Family Support Group – Facebook Page