When I was 16 years old I was told I was crazy. Well that’s the basics of it. I was locked in a youth hospital run by psychiatrists. Initially I was terrified because so many of the ‘crazy’ girls were sent to adult mental asylums where they were systematically raped by staff and inmates. Many of the girls committed suicide, so it’s no surprise to learn that I told nobody about my Bipolar 1 for the next 35 years.
I had best friends whom I still would not admit my mental illness to. I simply didn’t want to acknowledge it because voicing it would make it more real. Instead I let people think I was a firecracker, moody, violent and attach all the personality traits of the life of a person with Bipolar.
When I had two psychotic episodes within months everything started to unravel. I had been hallucinating for some time and had some very grandiose times. It all came to a head and I found myself medicated and ‘outed’ to my friends and family.
The responses I received were mixed to say the least. On the one hand I had a couple of friends who were very supportive and one who simply joked about it. I also had family members who were supportive and my older brother apologised to me for his treatment of me when I was a child/teen because he simply had no idea at the time what was happening with me.
I have four kids and two of them have been very supportive while the other two have done a stellar job of making me feel like an attention seeking loser. My work friends were supportive at face value but aloof too. My husband of course has always known there was something going and simply put it down to depression and the mania he thought was the wild woman that he first met. He has been my rock – and has shown me so much love that my cup overflows.
I have also had to slowly explain my illness to acquaintances because when it comes to socialising and sharing hobbies I often drop out of things or may appear as too full on or too loud etc.
I have experienced chronic anxiety since my last psychotic episode and social phobia for me has become the norm and while I have had my feelings hurt and failed to express them, on the whole my experience of ‘coming out’ after decades has been OK.
Those who are not supportive have no place in my life and I no longer have the mental capacity to put up with them – so I don’t.
I may be considered a drama queen, an attention seeker or whatever else some ignorant fucks think about me, but at the end of the day – this (blogging) is my therapy and ‘connection’ with others experiencing similar struggles.
I’m out and proud!