There’s a stigma around being bipolar and I totally get that. I am sometimes afraid to tell people I have it because one, they don’t need to know, and two, you put yourself out there in the questionable zone. People may think “What is that?” or “Watch out, she’s got a disorder.” I don’t know if people are put off by it because of preconceived notions or if it’s someone they know that has bipolar and they want to avoid you based on their experience with those people. I do acknowledge that it is an impairing disability for people who don’t have it managed, and it is hard on them, as well as those around them. I honestly don’t want to be around someone in their mood swings. But I hope I don’t think I’m above those who are in their mania or depression, despite it being hard to work with them.
Now that I’m whole and manage my disorder with the therapy and medication I’m on, I can show them I am proof that their illness is treatable. Take the medicine, find the right kind, exercise, eat well, do therapy, live life! If I would give advice to someone who’s not sure what to think of a person who admits they have bipolar, give them a chance. Don’t rule them out because they are being honest and open about it. Give them credit! They have worth and value no matter what stigma is attached to the name. How are you going to know what value they have to give if you judge them and decide to avoid them beforehand? It may be tempting to dodge the admitted bipolar, I know I’m tempted myself. But get some perspective. Learn about it. Educate yourself. And by all means take a chance on that person. Get to know them. Form a relationship with them and if they gain your respect, then you know it was worth it. If you still can’t stand them, you’re either not a true friend, or you need to choose to not be friends. But be honest after you’ve given them a chance.
I understand avoiding someone because they have a label. I get that. If I knew myself when I was struggling with the disorder, I would probably have given up on me (I’m a lousy friend anyway). But I’m doing fine now, and in fact, I’m doing so well my doctor told me just the other day that he questions my diagnosis. (Duh, I’m doing well because I’m on my medicine!) But by the grace of God, I am held up, whole in mind. I am so thankful I can get the healthcare I need to lead a stable life now. It can be a curse at times, when it rears its ugly head and you end up in the hospital. But I’m convinced that whether I’m well or sick, nothing can separate me from the love of God. This is my cross in life to bear. I am not perfect. But I’m blessed to be bipolar.