At first, I overshared amongst the people around me and told a lot of the people I saw. Looking back, that was some naive attempt to make the information not hurt me if it got back to me. As in, “I already told everyone so of course Person A knows.” I lived in a very small town at the time so maybe that was the way to handle it. I don’t know. I ended up feeling over-exposed.
Weirdly though, back home, aside from my parents, my grandmother and a couple of aunts, I didn’t make an issue of my diagnosis at all. It was like it never happened. Even hoapitizations I just didn’t talk about.
I was slightly better with my closest friends, but often not by much. Many of them would find out I was in the hospital because my phone was turned off or I called them when I got out.
I never posted a single thing on social medial about my diagnosis or my mental health. Ever. I worried about the stigma. I worried about people deciding they were better than me and the judgement. I worried about a lot of things.
Finally, about 8-9 years after diagnosis, I got brave.
I shared something about Bipolar Disorder on Facebook.
It got a couple of likes but no one said anything bad. I instantly felt more free. I decided part of my issue with sharing things on my Facebook was that I had people on there that I specifically didn’t feel safe necessarily seeing all of that. If they found out, it would be okay, but I didn’t need to be the daily messenger. So I unfriended those people.
Now I post and share about mental health topics all I want. I very occasionally link to this blog (I publicize on twitter instead). I enjoy Facebook more when I get on because it is more just people I care about on my newsfeed.
I feel free to Educate people about mental health and mental illness in a way that I didn’t before. I feel like I can do my part to reduce stigma now that I am out of the closet as a person living with Bipolar Disorder . It’s a pretty big deal and it has changed my life.
Image from Flickr