It is a very strange new (and old) feeling to know that if people knew the whole you that they would see and or treat you differently.
Even the most understanding, closest friends will have a new altered view of you. Perhaps, not negative but different none the less.
Our difference is invisible to the naked eye so people assume we are just like them.
But if we told our co-workers, the parents of our children’s friends, the parents of our students, the people in the line at the grocery store, our family, our friends, the person we are dating……
The way they see us cannot possibly remain unchanged in some way.
And it doesn’t always turn out okay.
I think that at the moment people find out they fall back on their preconceived ideas about Bipolar (even for a second) and then they have to reconcile that image with the person standing in front of them. Perhaps, a person they though they knew.
Some of them may be able to reconcile ….some may not….some may try…
Finding out makes some people uncomfortable. It may put them on edge. In general people are disturbed by “mental illness” and the idea that somebody does not have control over themselves.
Depending on the person and the context they may experience a hint (or a lot) of fear. Fear of the unpredictable, the eruptive, the unhinged…
Like when you pass the raving homeless person in the subway.
They may first ask (or just want to ask) if you are medicated. Then they can breath a little sigh of relief.
They may start to question your abilities, your trustworthiness…your sanity…
If a person is in the hospital and finds out that their nurse is Bipolar would they request a different one.
If a parent found out their child’s new teacher is Bipolar would they request a transfer to a different class.
If a person with Bipolar invites their child’s friend over for a play date and the parent finds out about the Bipolar…what would they say…..”um they can come play at our house instead.”
And then there is the blame and the dismissal. The new information may prompt the person to go back through the past or the present and decide that every difficulty they have had in their relationship with you was your fault. Because you are Bipolar and so obviously you are volatile and hyper sensitive. It is a vindication of sorts for them.
And then there is always that honest curiosity…
a stunned curiosity
Or that base human curiosity for the salacious, debauched, crazy going ons of other people’s lives
And they can’t help but wonder what the hell kind of stories you have hiding in your closet that led you to doctors and diagnosis and meds.
And isn’t that one awesome can of worms?
Just tell them you charge big bucks for that info.
Those therapists should be paying us.
WInk wink wink