Before I started this blog I knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t know what to write about. In the past I’ve written about fashion, textile design, and costuming, I’ve written about celiac’s disease, and recipes I’ve tried, and I’ve written the usual free-form creative stuff, but I couldn’t find a topic that could hold my attention for very long.
That’s sort of the story with everything in my life though, my interest in things really waxes and wanes and it is hard for me to focus, both on just a single thing at a time and in general.
Someone I went to high school with has been writing a blog for a while now about her pregnancy, she has often linked it to her facebook account, inviting anyone to read it. The entries are cute and sometimes whimsical, she has a very rustic, yet feminine sense of style that I’ve always admired.
When I first thought about writing about bipolar disorder, there seemed to be an obvious rift between her blog and my (still imaginary) blog. After all, it wouldn’t be appropriate to post mine of facebook, right? Baby clothes are a socially acceptable topic of everyday conversation, but mental health is not.
But why the hell not?
This pregnancy will last nine months of her life. I will live with bipolar disorder for my entire life, so shouldn’t I get to talk about it? Just because people don’t understand it, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t, right?
So with a little manic fervor and some balls, the decision had been made. I would write a blog about something that is permanent in my life instead of something I could lose interest in, what seemed like a good solution to my problem with keeping focus. Not only that, I would make it readily available to people who actually know me, even the ones who didn’t know I have bipolar disorder.
When I was younger one of my biggest frustrations was that people didn’t seem to understand me. Hell, I didn’t even understand me! The problem wasn’t that they were rejecting the information I gave them, just that I didn’t give them the chance to understand. For years I expected people to read my mind or just know how I felt, though some magical, mystical power, but I never just told anyone.
Now that I am being open about having bipolar disorder and what that means to me, the change has been life-altering. That isn’t even an exaggeration, I’m getting all teary-eyed just writing this!
People who I’d grow apart from have told me they feel closer to me than ever. Some of my friends with bipolar disorder and the community here in Seattle has been nothing but supportive and encouraging of what I’ve had to say. I’ve even had “normal” folks tell me that they could relate to some of the things I’ve written about, which they didn’t expect to happen! On top of the support from friends and bipolar peers, I’ve also discovered the support of the blogging community which has been really reassuring.
The apex so far for me was a couple weeks ago, literally every person I had made plans with over the course of the week made a comment to me about this blog. I got phone calls and emails about it. And, to top the cake, my dad called me to have an in-depth conversation about bipolar disorder with me for the first time ever.
It isn’t that my dad has ever ignored me or the issues I’ve been dealing with, I just never really told him what was going on. I was, admittedly, totally scared, because for the longest time I didn’t know how to talk about it. I’m still working on the talking out loud portion, but I’m extremely grateful to have this platform to express much of what I have to say.
If you don’t tell people who you are, they can’t reject you. But, they also can’t fully embrace you either. I expected some resistance, some level of rejection by putting myself out there, but instead I’ve found myself embraced by so many more people than I ever expected. Trust me, your support has not gone unappreciated!
I know it can be terrifying to be open about having bipolar disorder (trust me, I was physically ill for an entire week after writing my first post and linking it to facebook), but for me it has been far more rewarding than I ever could have expected.
Thanks folks, you all totally rock!
I also want to make a brief shout-out to a couple of the bloggers and websites that have acknowledged what I’ve been doing.
Thanks to Disorderly Chickadee, who tagged me with the Liebster Blog Award. She’s got a rockin’ blog herself, full of intellectual and insightful information. Check it out!
Thanks to Lulu at As the Pendulum Swings and Kevin at Voices of Glass for both tagging me with the Versatile Blogger Award. Lulu’s presence here in the online blogosphere is a marked one and she is both insightful and amazingly supportive. Kevin’s blog continues to push the envelope for me a little bit, challenging me to think about and consider things I haven’t considered before.
Lulu at As the Pendulum Swings started a project for 2012 called, “Blog for Mental Health 2012” which I am lucky to take part in, involving taking a pledge and committing to blogging for mental health, showing pride, dedication, and acceptance to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma. Props!
I also want to give a quick thanks to Bring Change 2 Mind for being an exceptional non-prophet dedicated to helping eradicate stigma, but also for publishing a brief short story about my own mental health experiences on their website. Thank you!
Finally, I just want to say, thank you for giving me hope. I imagine a future where people don’t have to live in fear of others finding out about their diagnoses and don’t feel like they have to hide parts of themselves from the rest of the world out of fear of discrimination and harassment. I know it is unrealistic to expect everyone on earth to be as accepting as the people around me have been for the last few months, but the truth of the matter is that I am witnessing something. I am living something I didn’t think would be possible for a long time.
It is possible to live openly with mental illness.
And if that doesn’t give me hope, nothing will.