“Every right implies a responsibility; Every opportunity, an obligation, Every possession, a duty. “

9 Nov

As a person with mental illness, a person with a moderately well paying secure full time job, I sometimes worry that my illness will be my downfall. That at any time, someone will find a reason, an excuse to be rid of me. In my down moments, I feel like I should be fired, that I deserve to be fired.

I know this is just part of the disease, and that my head is lying to me. And I’m ok with that. (well not really. It’s more like mute acceptance than anything else)

But I worry. I worry about the effects on my life. On my family, my marriage, my job. These are constant worries for me.

But they aren’t enough for me to be anything but totally open about my disorder.

I’ve seen other mentally ill individuals get all wound up and in a bunch about being referred to as “crazy”-considering it to be a massive affront and insult. I never do. If anything, it’s a nice lead in to talking about my disease.

Talking about bipolar and how it affects me normalizes mental illness. If someone can look at me and see a family and a solid job and interests and hobbies, then the “crazy” label doesn’t stick in the same “cuckoo” way that it may have before. People begin to open up-they talk about the people they know with mental illness, people who they’ve never mentioned to others before. They look at me in a new light. (Whether that’s a good light remains to be seen.)

I feel that I have a responsibility to help educate others about what life is like with bipolar. Coming through what I have, learning, continuing to live with this disease-I really do believe that I have a duty to help others understand that mental illness doesn’t mean I live in a rat hole eating turnips and playing euchre all day. I have a duty to show others that those of us who are mentally ill are really no different from them. We’re just ill. We’re mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, brothers, lawyers, analysts, social workers, vets. We’re the people who sit next to you on the bus. We’re the people buying Fanta in the line at the grocery line.

Hiding my disease, pretending that I’m like everyone else would likely make some things easier. But I would be lying. I wouldn’t be doing myself any favours. To me, it’s been worth the risk. I’ve never truly considered not telling people, least of all my work place. Hiding my disease would be like hiding who I am.

I’m lucky enough to have created a life that helps me compensate for my biology. It’s my duty to help others learn how to compensate for me.

10 Responses to ““Every right implies a responsibility; Every opportunity, an obligation, Every possession, a duty. “”

  1. Nikita November 9, 2007 at 1:44 pm #

    I’ve seen what an impact this kind of illness can have and I admire your willingness to talk about it. Talking is the start of overcoming the ignorance others have about mental illness.

  2. Mogo November 9, 2007 at 1:57 pm #

    that Euchre comment wasn’t a very subtle dig 😛

  3. thordora November 9, 2007 at 2:04 pm #

    You like turnips?

  4. Netter November 9, 2007 at 3:39 pm #

    I liked to compare my taking SSRIs for PPD and depression with Hubby’s taking blood pressure meds.

  5. charlotteotter November 9, 2007 at 3:45 pm #

    You’re doing that education right here, Thordora, and you’re doing it so well. I feel honoured that you’re prepared to share with me and others what being bipolar is like. Thank you.

  6. radical mama November 9, 2007 at 3:52 pm #

    It would go a long way to erase the stigma if everyone was so brave. But with so much discrimination and misconceptions, I really, truly admire your bravery for being so honest.

  7. cat November 9, 2007 at 5:20 pm #

    Honesty is the best policy. I don’t hide my ppd or wanting to take out my entire family either. What’s the point, it would be like stepping backwards. Thanks for keeping it real.

  8. marcelarhodus November 9, 2007 at 7:26 pm #

    you are indeed educating people. in more ways than one. and I believe you’re planting a seed for others to spread that knowledge and understandign you’re giving them.
    thank you for being so brave and honest.

  9. my sad alter ego November 11, 2007 at 1:28 pm #

    Wish I were as brave.


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    […] of you called me brave on this post recently, and while half of me filled up with mushy goo at being thought as someone like that, the rest of […]

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