4 Reasons I Talk about Bipolar Disorder

4 Reasons I Talk about Bipolar Disorder


Recently, someone asked me to stop writing about bipolar disorder.

No, I'm not kidding. 


Someone asked me to stop. (Just a suggestion, you know.) So, I thought I'd take a few moments to explain why I not only write about it, but will continue to do so.


But first let's talk about...




Why I Was Afraid to Write about Bipolar Disorder

When I first opened up about this topic, I was a nervous wreck. I consulted with others, gathered opinions, and wavered for days. With that post, as well as subsequent posts on that topic, I struggled to find the courage to click the publish button. Once published, I almost hit the 'delete' button dozens of times in the days to follow.

Why? 
Because I was afraid.

  • What if I lose readers?
  • What if people post hateful comments?
  • What if my kids are labeled and stigmatized for the rest of their lives?
  • Maybe this will follow them forever!

These were my thoughts with each and every post. At times, I experienced an anxiety attack over it.

Has that changed? Not really. I'm still afraid at times. So why do I keep pushing forward?


This Is My Life

My kids have this. Bipolar disorder isn't like a cold. It won't go away on it's own. And, unlike a cold, it affects every aspect of our lives.

  • Will we make a homeschool field trip? Or will my child sleep until noon, or 2pm, or 5pm, or 9pm?
  • What if my child is up in the day? Will her anxieties prevent her from leaving the house?
  • If we can't go out, how will I keep her occupied so she isn't bothered by the racing thoughts?
  • What about meal times? Will she want dinner and then be repulsed by it the moment she sees it? Will  I make three dinners before she finds one that doesn't make her feel nauseated? 
  • What's the weather like? Can I get enough vitamin D into her so she can sleep tonight? Or will it be too hot and trigger mania?
  • What season are we in? Will I not see the light of day this month?
  • What is her mood? Is it up? Down? Somewhere in the middle? Will she be easily frustrated today? 

This is my life. Every day. And why wouldn't I write about my own life on my own blog?

So I continue to speak.



I Want to Help Stop the Stigma

That fear that grips me each time I write a post on bipolar disorder is exactly why I need to keep writing. No one should live in fear.

Not you. Not me. Not anyone with any illness.


  • Being open and honest shouldn't be a problem.
  • My kids are who they are, and have what they have. That shouldn't be a problem.
  • People don't understand this illness. That is a HUGE problem.

Imagine going through life hiding something important about yourself. Maybe you are blind, or deaf, or are in a wheelchair.

How do you hide these things? More importantly, why should you have to hide these things?


One in four people have a mental illness. One in four. 

Please stop for a moment and give that a bit of thought. One-quarter of the people you know have a mental illness. 
Did you know that? No? Maybe they're too afraid to speak up. Maybe they don't even know yet. 


But here's the real point: 


  • Do you view them differently than you would anyone else? 
  • Would you change your view if you knew which ones had a mental illness? 
  • If so, why would your view change? You like them now, so why wouldn't you like them if you knew? Nothing will have changed except your knowledge.

Stopping the stigma is important. 

So I continue to speak.




People Don't Understand What They Don't Know

Myths, assumptions, and invalidating remarks abound when it comes to bipolar disorder. 

  • Bipolar disorder is just another way of saying 'moody.'
  • Children do not get bipolar disorder.
  • People who have bipolar disorder are crazy all the time, flipping from manic to depressed.

That list goes on and on. I'll save that for another post.

I understand that people don't understand. I used to be one of those people. But while I did not understand, I also didn't create or perpetuate myths. That's what needs to stop.

So I continue to speak.


I Enjoy Helping People

When I wrote the Robin Williams post, I was not prepared for what happened next. It was shared on social media over 60,000 times overnight. That was incredible, but it wasn't the most important thing. Something else happened. Something that changed my life.

It was the comments, the emails, the private messages on Facebook. It was the many people who shared their stories of surviving suicide (theirs or a loved one's). It was the many tears I cried as I read personal accounts from people who have bipolar disorder. 


I cried for days as these messages flooded to my inbox.

The important thing is that my writing seems to help others. For every moment I wasted being afraid and hovering my cursor over the 'delete' button on my blog posts, I received dozens of notes from readers thanking me for speaking up.


So I continue to speak.





Letters and Comments from Readers
Allow me to share a few comments and emails I've received over the last 11 months.
"I suffer bipolar II and this said alot about what I can't say about my own illness. This was moving!" 
"This is the best article I've read that was written by someone that doesn't have a mental illness. I've had severe depression on and off my whole life. It's been constant for the last 11 years. You're right, it's almost impossible to understand the total and complete hopelessness we feel." 
"Very well written. I've read books, researched, & spoken with many doctors about bipolar disorder yet. This is by far the best explanation." 
"I am 23 years old and from Germany. (sorry for my bad english) I want to thank you for writing and all your work you do. I couldnt describe it better as you do. I showed it my boyfriend, i tried to explain him everything but its hard to understand, and after reading your blog he does understand." 
"You have put words to my feelings today. Thank you! <3"

"As a survivor of suicide - my dad took his own life 28 years ago when I was 17 - and as someone who has Bipolar II Disorder, your words are among the most accurate and relatable I've ever read."
I could go on and on. I've collected hundreds upon hundreds of these.

Those people who write those emails - they're why I do this.


Need helpful tips and resources for living with bipolar disorder? Subscribe here.  

13 comments

  1. Love you Michelle, you are a brave Mommy. You and your family are always in my prayers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, Paola! Good to see you here. You should give me a call sometime. <3

      Delete
  2. Anonymous7/30/2015

    Hello Michelle. My first name is Kerry and I am 47 years old. I first remember wanting to die at age seven. That year I nearly failed grade three. Again at age 12, then 17, then at least once per decade after that. Diagnosed with Post partum depression at 25 and finally Bipolar II at 44. I have two children in their twenties and at least one for sure will experience the same challenges I have. I wish my parents knew what you know and I wish I knew what I know now. Keep writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kerry, Thanks so much for sharing a little of your story. I appreciate the encouragement. Hope to see you here more often.

      Delete
  3. Thank you for sharing! I'm so glad you decided to write about this topic. I do not have a mental illness and no one in my family has bipolar disorder. But I know many people that struggle with depression. I love to learn more about mental illness and gain insight so that I may be the best friend I can to them in their times of trial. Keep up the good work.
    I'm also contemplating sharing on my blog about a topic that could make people uncomfortable to talk about. But like you said, it is so important to remove the stigma! I enjoyed reading about your experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shirley,
      I agree! Knowledge is power. THIS knowledge empowers us to do the best we can for the people those around us who are struggling with these illnesses. #BeTheChange

      Delete
  4. Stupid ignorant comment, answered with grace and reason. Carry on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Christine! I think of you often. We don't always connect the way we once did on each other's blogs, but know that I still appreciate you and all you've done for me.

      Delete
  5. Wonderful response to a comment that never should have been written. I too have a daughter who suffers from anxiety and clinical depression. So many things you write I completely get and understand. Thanks so much for sharing your life through this blog.
    Blessings
    Diane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diane, I'm so glad to see you here. I wish I'd had more time to talk to you when we met at GHC in 2013. Maybe we'll meet up again one day. <3

      Delete
  6. I am trying to subscribe to your posts/blogs but it keeps telling me it is not allowed. Please subscribe me at gramma2them@yahoo.com
    I have 4 kids, 3 of which are bipolar. My husband is also bipolar. I feel where you are coming from. It is amazing how uninformed the public is about BPD.
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. gramma2them, I'm sorry you were having troubles. I'll look into that. I'm signing you up. Check your email to confirm.

      Delete
  7. My 12 year old daughter has OCD as well as dyslexia, ADHD, and auditory processing disorder. We have been homeschooling since 3rd grade-she was diagnosed with ADHD at the end of 1st grade, dyslexia in November of 2nd grade and APD in February. The school did a poor job with IEP compliance so my then fiancé now husband and I decided to homeschool. The OCD diagnoses came later- the week before her 10th birthday. Stigma around mental illness needs to end and posts like yours help do that.

    ReplyDelete

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