I was reading this article this morning - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/bipolar-disorder-ellen-forney_n_5823138.html, and it triggered some thoughts for me.
First, how many people have I told about my mental illness and what percentage of negative versus positive reactions have I gotten from them (not including medical professionals)?
SC – mixed, tried to help but didn’t really understand. When her help didn’t ‘work,’ she gave up.
AA – apathy
Support group online – positive, helpful
AM – positive, empathetic
JC – mixed, tried to help but didn’t understand, often very disrespectful. Same thing as SC, when his help didn’t ‘work,’ he would get very frustrated.
Father – somewhat empathetic but told me I would have to ‘go it alone,’ because therapists are not to be trusted and they just want your money. He hasn’t said a word to me about it since then.
Sister – empathetic, helpful. I’m not sure she understands totally, but I only just told her this summer.
Bitchy mcTraitor – freaked out, tried to get me fired
GS – empathetic and understanding when I told her but when I tried to talk to her about my feelings and things that happened that relate to my disorder, I couldn't get empathy at all from her. She was very good at giving emotionless advice…
So; three purely positive responses, four mixed and two purely negative.
I’m counting apathy as a negative, especially since he and I were supposedly ‘in love’ and he never tried to help with my illness or mentioned it at all even though I was clearly suffering.
Also, when I asked him if I should commit suicide, he told me he couldn’t think of a reason why not. So; definitely negative.
I’ve always kept the information that I have a mental illness very close, and obviously have only told a very few people. I always suspected something was wrong, but I didn’t get help until college when I went to my school counseling center. I didn’t even tell my father, he actually found out because he was trying to buy insurance for me and the insurance companies came back and said they wouldn’t cover me because of my depression (my dx at the time, also this was before the ACA made it illegal to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions). So he called me up to his office area in the master bedroom when I was visiting and asked me if it were true, did I have depression?
There wasn’t anything else for me to say at that point but yes. And we talked a bit about it, it was good, I think, to have finally let him know about it because up to that point I had been seeing a therapist and psychiatrist in secret. I was so afraid of my father finding out about it that I lied about being on his insurance plan and told my school counseling center that I didn’t have insurance. That actually worked out great for a while since they had a sliding scale for appointments, I was only paying $40 for psychiatry appointments and $2 per therapy appointment. I had a part-time job so I could pay for it all myself. I think I was afraid if my dad found out he would demand I live at home again because he would think I wasn’t able to deal with living at school. I spent my two years of college living at home but it was actually my therapist who suggested that I get the hell out of there and live on campus. It made a huge difference for me to not be around my father all the time.
It’s not that he was abusive or anything. I’m not even sure I can explain it and have anyone understand. He was just angry all the time and I’m a very sensitive person. You know when you’re with a group of people and then one person just gets really angry about something and starts ranting about it, and then everyone gets really quiet and is afraid to speak up or say anything because if they do they know they’ll get shot down by that person and/or have that person’s anger suddenly directed at them? Like, everyone feels so awkward and afraid that they barely want to move or make a sound?
That is what growing up with my father was like. Pretty much every night at dinner would be like that. And he would be angry at everything and everyone. Oh, you have a tattoo? You just sealed your fate as a worthless bum because no one decent will ever employ you. The same goes for men with long hair, people who own motorcycles, and music majors.
I had also overheard a rant my father was having about me. He seemed to think that the college I had decided to go to would turn me into a burden to the family, because I would never get a job with a degree from there. A burden to the family.
So; I never told my father about my mental illness and I still haven’t told him about my new diagnosis. If he hadn’t found out about my depression he wouldn’t know now. I still count it as mixed because he didn’t make me live at home, and he didn’t flip out and the world didn’t explode or anything. But, not necessarily positive either. You don’t tell an almost completely isolated, lonely depressed person that they’ll have to deal with it alone. That’s simply irresponsible and ignorant. I needed help, I was desperate for it and I got it, behind his back because I believed I had to. His response confirmed that I was right to do that.
As he has gotten older, his anger has mellowed out a bit. Also, I’ve gotten stronger and have been able to call him on his bullshit. So, maybe one day I will tell him. I seem to be moving more in that direction by telling my sister – who supports me in waiting to tell my parents until I am ready. I’m also pretty tired of hiding. I have no patience for lying and hiding anymore.
Especially since he seems more concerned sometimes with pestering me about making sure I have maternity coverage on my insurance (which I now buy myself), than ever even asking me how my mental health is. God forbid he should make sure I have mental health coverage or a proper psychiatrist/psychologist. How it is more pressing in his brain to make sure he will not have to pay for all my illegitimate children from all the wild sex I am supposedly having than to make sure I am being treated for an illness that I will have my entire life and is often fatal, is simply beyond my understanding. Simply…. fucking…. beyond me. So; it’s not easy to not go off on him. But that's not the way I want this conversation to come up.
Anyway, this has gotten off track. The point is I want people to know and I want them to be ok with it and not freak out and complain to management or stop talking to me or talk to me but tell me shitty, ignorant things. But, since I can’t have that ideal situation most of the time I have to keep things under wraps.
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