(August 30, 2006)

If only we did not feel such shame. If only it were safer for us to speak and tell others. If only there were no stigma…

I can’t let this topic go.

I first decided to come out in the open when I read the following by Dr. John Varsamis, M.D.:

“Mental illness is so common that if even a small proportion of the patients made a special effort to learn as much as they could about their illness, and if they proceeded to educate their families and friends, there would not be too many uninformed people left and the stigma associated with mental illness would be virtually eradicated.”

I realized that if I wanted things to be different, it would have to start with me. I began writing articles about living with bipolar disorder. Later came my book, Riding the Roller Coaster. Everyone in my world knew. But coming out did not hurt me very much. I don’t care if there are some people that think I might be weird. For the most part, I don’t think they do. I have many friends and feel I have their respect, even if they do know I have a serious mental illness. I feel good about myself and have learned to walk with confidence in all areas of my life.

It’s not going to be as easy for everyone to do. People need their jobs and not all employers are understanding. Sometimes we can only afford to tell a few trustworthy friends.

I think the most important thing is to come to terms ourselves with the fact that our disorder does not define who we are as people. We are as worthy as any other segment of society. We need to learn to feel good about who we are.