“Emma I had no idea you were a bipolar person”, a woman I have known for years said to me the other day. “You don’t look like one”.
This woman has children similar ages to mine and we pass each other regularly at the school or in the town where we both live. She had recently joined my Facebook mums group and had begun to read my blog.
“Your blog is amazing by the way,” she said as she said her goodbyes and walked on.
I have no idea what a bipolar person even is, but I guess because I have it, I must be one.
This all comes back down to the stigma of mental illness and others false perceptions of how we are judged if we have a slight difference to others.
Because I am bipolar yet again I have been singled out and been put into a circle of “something unusual”.
I have no idea what a bipolar person is meant to look like either
but I have met a few and they look pretty normal people.
I wonder what images were flying around her head when she discovered I was a walking, talking fruit loop.
Can you imagine this poor woman finding out a woman she knows has this disease?
I have learned to laugh off questions and assumptions, but there was a time when I would have wanted the ground to swallow me whole.
I find it difficult to talk about my illness when I am in a bipolar depression phase but it is becoming easier to try to explain I am not feeling myself at that time, rather than running away to hide.
I am no longer ashamed of what I am and yes I am proud to be a bipolar person because I have overcome so much.
I have had to learn to dance in the rain and answer questions about myself and my life that were not easy to do.
I have looked deep into places that I never knew existed to find the answers I needed.
The most difficult part of being who I am is dealing with how others perceive me.
My self-confidence is not always great and I fear rejection of others.
What will others think of me?
I may not be the same as most, yes I have a mental illness but I am still human and I feel pain, hurt, guilt and shame more than I do any other emotion because of the stigma mental illness carries.
So please if you do know me personally, don’t avoid me, just treat me as you would have done before you knew I was a bipolar person, I am still me.
See me and not the label, because bipolar is only a small part of who I am.