This question has been on my mind for awhile, and I recently talked about it with a friend:
When do I feel it appropriate to share about my struggles with bipolar disorder?
And another harder one:
Why do I share?
I realize that I’m fairly open about my disorder, definitely more than I used to be. I think that if a stranger asked the right question, I’d be more than willing to share about it. Naturally when I spend more time with people and develop friendships, parts of my life are going to surface. Bipolar disorder is one of the first. I feel more comfortable about it, not really caring if it colors how people see me; that’s their problem.
But sometimes I do wonder my intentions when I share.
I know that part of me wants people to know what I go through. For them to know that I have this thing, and that it disrupts my life. And that I’m doing pretty okay anyway (at least I think so). That yes, I have to do ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) and take medications and go to therapy, and in a lot of ways my life is hard. Maybe I want to “outdo” people, I don’t really know. I know that’s an awful way to think, and I don’t like admitting that I do sometimes. I’m not sure where it comes from.
Perhaps I feel like I need to prove to myself, and by extension others, that the fact I’m still in community college at 22 years of age isn’t because I don’t work hard, but because I have mental illness. It’s not that I don’t want a job, but it’s that I don’t think I can handle it with everything else. It’s the thought that if I didn’t have this, I could be farther along.
I try to be understanding when I hear about others’ stories, especially as it relates to mental illness, but I feel like I’m always comparing my own story to theirs. Was I more severe than they? In what ways was my story more dramatic, and in what ways was theirs? I have to almost hit myself over the head to remind myself; DO NOT COMPARE. Because you can’t. And you shouldn’t try. I know this, and yet I still fall prey to this type of thinking.
My hope is that I will be able to change my thinking. I know that I can’t always control what first comes to mind, but I will work to control what comes after. It’s an ongoing process. I know I will never fully know how to live with having my disorder, because as I change and adapt it does too. But I also I know I can do what I can when it comes to my attitudes toward other people, and my intentions when I share about my disorder.
Working on it.
[I know I haven’t written in a long time, and haven’t truly been consistent ever since I started this. I’m going to try and change that. I’ll do my best.]