Happy World Bipolar Day!
If someone asked me one word that pops into my head when asked the question “What does bipolar mean in your life?”, stigma would be the first thing that pops into my head. “An association of disgrace or public disapproval with something, such as an action or condition”, according to Google. It’s stigma that keeps me secretive. Stigma that requires me to keep what I consider to be such a large part of my life a secret to all except those really close to me I know I can trust to keep it to themselves, and to not judge me for it, to see me in a different fashion.
Even to those I do tell, the response seems to be the same, “Wow, I never wouldn’t guessed that about you.” Partly because I’m medicated to function. Partly because I’m required to act as if it doesn’t exist, even on days when I’m all over the map (I’ve grown increasingly more skilled at masking it). But I think largely more than anything else, they just don’t know what it MEANS to be bipolar. They know the stigma, they know that bipolar people are crazy, that they’re moody. They don’t truly know what that entails in detail, how it effects your life, etc.
I will openly admit that I suffer from GAD, OCD, because those are “socially accepted” mental illnesses. I can even joke about them. There are some I know who suffer from anxiety and can relate, but none with bipolar, aside from my support group. I wish for a day to come where the stigma could be lifted, that people would understand that with the proper treatment, someone with bipolar is no different than anyone else (for the most part, we all have our challenges), just like someone with OCD untreated can go completely off the reservoir.
Bipolar in my life means medication. It means secrecy. It means never truly being able to be myself, to not fully fit in with my colleges, with my friends. I wish a day would come where stigma was not an issue, and people would become more educated, that the illness would gain more limelight. Perhaps it will happen in my generation, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.