An article arrived in my “in” box today which underlined for me one of the persistent difficulties in living with mental illness – stigma.
Stigma interests me a great deal, living as I am with HIV/AIDS, too.
I almost feel defensive in talking about my bipolar II condition, particularly around some other recovering alcoholics who look skeptical when I tell them I was diagnosed before I stopped drinking. The implication seems to be that, now that I’m stopped, the bipolar should be less of a problem. Indeed it has been but I’ve been taking medications of one kind or another for it all along!
Another friend has had terrible experiences with psychiatrists and meds and so expresses the same sort of skepticism but also sincere worry about me. I wonder if someone else’s experience is being projected on me.
I guess I just have to pick and choose who I confide in. After giving up Seroquel, because of elevated blood sugars, old-fashioned lithium has kept me stable – and I don’t want to fight that!
I've grown to be very wary of telling people that I'm bipolar. There is so much misconception that I tend not to want to struggle with educating people. Instead, I just embrace the label that I'm eccentric.
However, if I do tell people, I usually say that I'm manic-depressive, rather than bipolar. Most people tend to respond a little better and more inquisitively than if I say bipolar, which they usually assume means flaky.