Day 10: Do you tell people you’re bipolar? Why/why not?
Ever since my initial diagnosis in 2007, I have never been shy of telling people that I suffer from bipolar. Almost instantly upon diagnosis I went online and broadcast the news to my blogging friends. I told my parents. I told relatives. I told friends. At no point did it occur to me that I should keep this diagnosis hidden, even the omnipresent threat of stigmatization and discrimination didn’t prevent me from telling people.
The reaction the news received varied. My parents, who have had their own battles with mental health, were supportive. Relatives and friends reacted either by never speaking to me again, nonchalantly or with praise, with many telling me that I was “brave” to speak out about my bipolar diagnosis. But I’ve never considered myself brave, in fact, people telling others they’re brave for speaking out about their mental illness annoys me. Simply because it shouldn’t be brave to talk about ones mental health. We should be normalizing mental illness, and telling someone they’re brave for speaking out about it, isn’t normalizing the illness. We don’t tell someone they’re brave for speaking out about having the flu, or diabetes or cancer, so why is it brave to speak out about a mental illness? It should just be something that’s accepted and considered normal.
Either way, I will continue telling people I suffer from bipolar for as long as I live. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just an illness, and if people can’t handle that, then that’s on them, not me.