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08/31/2011 09:06 PM

Keeping Bipolar a secret, feeling like a fraud

TheQuiet
TheQuiet  
Posts: 62
Member

"You don't smile enough," my supervisor criticized me last year, prior to my upcoming internship performance review.

That did it. I was at a point... a point where I was so depressed - it was PHYSICALLY onerous to smile. I was very nearly suicidal, and yet getting through each day satisfactorily.

I then made, the grave mistake, of revealing to my supervisor that I was suffering from clinical depression.

BIG MISTAKE. After that, my life became even more of a nightmare... Everything I did was always questioned. I was seen as unstable. Ingenuous "concerns" abounded.

Never again, I told myself. Never again.

And now that I have discovered that I am bipolar, I will definitely be keeping it a safely guarded secret. But during times when one is struggling, it is especially difficult to keep this secret...how else to explain to co-workers your behaviour? Yet, it is sometimes a mistake to assume the other person would even understand, unless he or she has experience with mental illness.

I hate keeping secrets. I have spent my whole life hiding from others that I am gay. Now I am adding to that the stigma of bipolar. And people wonder why I keep to myself.

Sometimes it makes me feel like I am doing something wrong. Like I am a fraud. A broken person trying to "pass" for a paycheque. I know I am more than capable of doing great work when I am stable, like now, but I know that I will have more dark days.

Does anyone else feel this way about hiding their illness at work, or in other settings?

Reply

09/01/2011 02:21 AM
mem4809

I do when I am not stable..fortunately I am a good actress but when I can't keep up the facade I start cancelling work which I can't really afford to do. But when I told my employer why I needed time off a while ago it wasn't good. But once I got the diagnosis of BP then I could re-approach them and frame it in a positive light (not that I felt great about it--I was devastated at the time) but I said-encouragingly that now it can be managed properly and I will be able to function 100%. But with regards to most people--they need not know. Everyone has their own crap that they are dealing with and they--for the most part--don't walk around telling co-workers about it. But I go back and forth...I find when people know about the Depression it is easier to talk about than the BP. It is true that no one understands us fully unless they have been through it and even then we all handle it differently. But I'm more with you that I do carry shame even though I know it is nothing we are responsible for--it's a chemical imbalance--but we are responsible for how we handle it and maybe trying to smile more when stable will help you out at work.

09/01/2011 09:06 AM
hunkydorie
hunkydorie  
Posts: 2058
Senior Member

Definitely I am cautious on whom I tell. A fair amount of people know already whom I pretty much trust. I have a 14 year old daughter and I don't think that any of her friend's parents know that I have bipolar. I'm actually afraid that they wouldn't let their kids come over if they knew. Maybe I am wrong, but I just have that thought.

I don't feel like a fraud, but I have to say that when I am not at my best, it gets difficult because most don't understand what the heck is going on....after all, how could they. That's when it feels like I'm keeping a secret more than ever. There is just too much stigma out there and I don't want to be treated like I am not normal or that I am not capable of doing much because of my illness.

In ending, I have enough trouble accepting this illness full-time, so I am very selective on whom I tell or have told.


09/01/2011 01:42 PM
FlyingSolo
FlyingSolo  
Posts: 9
New Member

Hello! I'm a newbie here, but not to BP II. I was diagnosed 38 years ago and have delt with it solo. So, I know what you're saying, and how you're feeling about this issue of secrecy. Quite honestly, I went 37 years without telling anyone other than my spouse. Only this last year was I able to trust a friend well enough to discuss it.

I've suffered the pain of my uncontrolled behavior, having friends simply vanish from the earth, never to contact me again, or accept my attemps to contact them. Hurts severely. Knowing this, there's no way I let the cat our of the bag.

My advice, when you're transitioning from one mood to another, or when you're at an extreme...take a sick day right away.


09/01/2011 02:06 PM
RickEJ
RickEJ  
Posts: 7386
Group Leader
I'm an Advocate

I've told a lot of people with mixed results. Most have been positive though my family pretends like it doesn't exist.

The few friends I used to have that I told are long gone, never contacted me again after I told them. Bummer because we were like brothers. You just never know how people are going to take. Well the people that matter don't mind and the people that mind don't matter. at least thats how I see it now. It been 7 years going on 8 sometimes I just don't care who knows. Most of the time I don't talk about it unless its brought up or some other kind of mental disorder. Other than that I have a few friends that also suffer from similar disorders at work and we have a great time. Smile


09/02/2011 05:06 AM
barelymanic
barelymanic  
Posts: 3253
VIP Member

Your medical condition is nobody's business that is why we have HIPPA laws. You have a right to keep it to yourself if you think it will prejudice anyone against you.

09/03/2011 08:57 AM
InvisibleMe
InvisibleMe  
Posts: 3203
Senior Member

I told a confidant and friend at work, but he keeps it to himself. I refuse to tell anyone else as it will be a negative reaction and folks will hold it against me.

09/05/2011 09:02 AM
Aravis
Aravis  
Posts: 681
Member

Yes I think its your own choice whether to let people know. I think stigma associated with mental illness is stupid. Your not "crazy", and you can't help it that you have the disorder. I like to be honest about it with work and with my studies (university) because I need those people in authority to understand when I can't turn up, or can't complete a project on time etc. For me, being honest just brings a necessary level of understanding from people around me, to give me the lee-way I need at times. Also letting your closest friends and family know is a good idea, so they can support and help you at times. But everyone is in a different situation, and it depends if the people around you are going to be supportive about it or not. I'm pretty lucky that way, i have to say! best wishes xo

09/05/2011 09:57 AM
Intheshadows
 
Posts: 150
Member

Oh, TheQuiet! I could have written parts of your post! I, too, struggle with the daily contradiction of valuing honesty yet keeping my condition (BP-II) a secret at work. I have come to realize that I cannot afford to lose my job, so I have made the decision not to reveal that I'm under psychiatric care for BP Disorder. My closest friends know about my condition and are supportive or, at least, not adversarial. They try to help and understand as best they can. You have to do what works for you. Survival is a strong instinct, and it requires no apology. Trust your gut. Like FlyingSolo said, take your sick days when you need them. Come here and talk to people who understand! Be well.

09/05/2011 01:03 PM
Xro7x
Xro7x  
Posts: 212
Member
I'm an Advocate

I totally agree. When the wife's family is over I am not to mention my past the Bp the addiction or cutting. I find that offensive as the sit at my table and bad mouth addicts and people with mental illness. It's all I can to not to drag them over the table and teach them that there is an imposter within there perfect family. As for my family don't ask don't tell the deal my pretending that I'm normal and whe episodes come and I'm cycling several times aday just deal with it, suck it up , or my favorite from my mom, ur faking it so stop acting up. So I deal with it the best I can and live on
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