I’ve been thinking about disclosure, coming out, gender, sexuality, childhood trauma, mental illness, abuse, identity, love, relationships, and so on.
A good amount of my friends are LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender). A good number of my friends are genderqueer, gender non-conforming, non-binary, agender. I know a small amount of folk who identify a pansexual, and a small amount of people who are polyamorous. How I identify is in my About Me section.
The thing is, all of us at one time or another had to decide to come out or not come out, who to tell, who not to tell, if to say at all. How to say it, to write it. How to disclose? If it is necessary. When is it necessary? And on top of all this we live. We live our lives.
About a week and a half ago someone friend requested me on FB. We’ve commented on each other’s posts. On Thursday I got a message asking how I was (I’ve been sick ALL week) and then I asked how he was. The response said he had been depressed a little and that it sucks having bppd and BDP. I asked what those were. BPD is Bipolar Personality Disorder and bppd is borderline personality disorder. I was a little taken aback that he mentioned it so casually and so soon in our interaction. He says he does it so people can decided if they want to know him or not. He doesn’t take medicine. He live with what he has and his mood fluctuates often.
Then I did what I normally do when someone tells me they are bipolar or have a loved one who is bipolar.
I told him I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 in 2004. I took meds for 6 months and then I stopped because I didn’t agree with the diagnosis. Then 6-7 months later I found myself in the hospital. I was raped in the hospital by another patient. I was in full blown mania and my mindset was that I had to get along with everyone. It was about being a mediator and bringing people together. Conflict resolution. Making peace. Meeting people halfway. I didn’t want go in the room but he asked me to. He guided me into the bathroom with him but I didn’t want to go. He wanted me to so I did. I did what he told me to and.. I got through it. I told the nurses and they put him in another ward. I remember answering questions in a room with a woman in a suit. I didn’t tell anyone else for weeks and months. I didn’t file police charges or have a rape kit done. I didn’t know if anyone would believe me and I felt it was my fault because I didn’t take my meds and I was in a psyc ward and people thought I was crazy and something was wrong with me, and I didn’t fight, I went with him, I didn’t scream NO!! I didn’t scream for help. It was my fault. I know now that it wasn’t.
The good thing that came from that situation is that it made me never want to have to go back to the hospital again. I did everything they told me so I could get out. I have been med compliant since then (2005). When I left the hospital I was heavily drugged. I couldn’t read more than a page at any given time, for over a year and a half. I used to read a book a day. I was sleepy all the time. I felt like I was living in quicksand and everything seemed far away. My psychiatrist at the time said I’d be on medication for the rest of my life. I needed to accept it. But I couldn’t and I didn’t. I finally found a doctor who’d work with me to get me off my meds. We reduced the number of medications and reduced the dosages and over a period of 3 years and eliminated all but one of the medications. I’ve been on one mood stabilizer ever since. Lamictal (Lamotrigine). It’s a drug made for epilepsy but is sometimes used for those who suffer from Bipolar disorder and it works for me.
I’ve been thinking about how open I am with my life in general and how much easier it is for me to be out as Trans than as someone with Bipolar. The stigma of mental illness for me is greater.
I didn’t know how stigmatizing it was until I had an awful experience with telling a roommate early on in my treatment. Her girlfriend worked in Child Protective Services and I guess had been around destructive people with Bipolar. Her experiences colored her viewpoint and she lumped us all together. I wasn’t judged by the content of my character. My roommate told me that she and her girlfriend would never have let me rent the room had they known I was Bipolar. Her girlfriend didn’t talk to me really for the whole 8 months I lived there but she and I got on fairly well for the most part. We’d watch movies together often and talk about her time in the Navy. At that time I worked long days and was out of the house from like 6a to 6p and then I hung out with my friends a lot so I was really only there to sleep. I never felt at home there. Never. I decided after that experience that I wouldn’t tell people. People didn’t need to know. I didn’t want to be treated badly based on being pre-judged.
The older I get, the more I know from experience that when people tell the truth about their lives it helps others. Even if only one person. When someone tells me they are Bipolar, or deal with depression, anxiety, ptsd, other traumas, I can share with them my experiences. I feel safe to open up. For the most part everyone that tells me they are bipolar I let them know, me too. I say that I am diagnosed with Bipolar. I am not a mental illness. People don’t say I am Cancer or I am Diabetes. Dealing with bipolar disorder, living with it can be challenging. It’s been years and I know myself really well. I take care of myself. I reach out for support when I need it. I am vigilant about my mental and emotional health. I have to be. No one can live my life but me. I do the best I can with what I have. I like who I am.
The issue that is up for me right now is that I like someone. I really like him and I think he likes me. We’ve been messaging for 4 or 5 days now and I feel like maybe I need to tell him. But when and how? I’ve never had to do this before. I don’t date much and I usually meet people through friends. It’s just never been a problem and I don’t want it to be now. I don’t want to be rejected.
May I ask those reading now, when would you share, when would you want to know? Any advice on how to go about it?