I made the decision a week ago to ‘come out’ and talk about my bipolar life. It was a quite a decision for me to make as I hold a senior position in the communication industry. This industry is small, cut-throat and incredibly demanding.
Ever since my diagnosis I’ve been toying with the idea of talking about bipolar and exploring ways in which something good could come from my journey. The one thing that kept squirreling around in my thoughts was “what will they think?”, not only my family and friends, but also my colleagues, clients and the industry at large.
The other thought that kept me awake at night was that I have always been perceived as strong, determined and a leader. Once I made ‘the announcement’ would they think that I was, or that I am, a fraud?
I’ve never let on to my highs and lows in the work environment and I’ve tried my level best to make it work in a the business world. Some days I would have to force a smile onto my face and pretend that everything was hunky dory. Other times I would attack life with vengeance. I had ideas, solutions and boundless energy. There were also times where I existed in a normal space. Mostly I was exhausted from wearing a mask.
As I mentioned in my earlier blog ‘mania’, I have always known that I needed to make it work for my daughter’s sake. I had to provide for her and do whatever I had to do in order to succeed. This came with a high price tag, both mentally and physically. A cost that ultimately led to a scary meltdown. (Even through this I managed to present a normal face to the world).
The trauma and self loathing that followed this meltdown left me with two choices; either attempt to carry on as best possible or acknowledge that I needed help and get help.
My initial instinct was to do what I had always done and just keep chugging along, keep pretending and hope for the best. But, something deep inside of me first whispered and then shouted: “You aren’t going to make it this time round!”. Eventually this voice was so loud and deafening that I took notice of it and ‘succumbed’ to my worst fear; admitting that I was not as normal or strong as I had led myself, and the world around me, to believe.
This was the best decision I had ever made. It was a relief, but is was also terrifying. It was empowering and also embarrassing. It meant that I had to face myself and I dreaded this.
I was directed to a therapist who was kind, empathetic and also brilliant. He slowly drew me out of my shell and I opened up to him about my life. I was able to talk frankly and honestly about the good and the bad. I trusted him, I still do. This was the first time I was able to completely trust someone and it felt so good. It still does.
With this therapy came the question of whether to talk about my personality disorder or keep it under wraps. I first chose the ‘secret’ approach, but then a week ago I just blurted it out to the world. I made the decision and acted on it. I haven’t for one moment regretted this decision.
Mostly I was told that I am brave and courageous. My mother wasn’t that sure, she worried about the stigma and how it would affect the way I was perceived. My daughter on the other hand was completely supportive, I think she was relieved too.
A few days ago she sent me something that she had stumbled upon;
“Don’t ever feel bad for making a decision about your own life that upsets other people. Your are not responsible for their happiness. You’re responsible for your own happiness. Anyone who wants you to live in misery for their happiness should not be in your life to begin with”.
I know I made the right decision!