It is common for people with bipolar disorder
to question where the separation is between themselves and the illness – where does one end and the other begin? The answer is largely elusive.
Many of my flaws, or negative personality traits, are just a part of me. But I am neither the anxious depressive who cringes away from social interaction, nor the supremely confident manic egoist. I am somewhere in between what often feels like two separate people. The irony is that I have been relatively stable lately but perhaps if I had more severe episodes more frequently it would be easier for others to see what is the illness and what is me.
The stigma of mental illness is well-documented
The stigma of mental illness
is well-documented. It can cause a great deal of guilt and shame in sufferers. I’m fairly open about my bipolar, the title doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, but there’s a deeper type of shame I find myself wrestling with. This shame concerns the unwitting audiences to my episodes, comprised of pretty much anyone who witnesses me in these states.
My depressions can be easy to hide from people, I’ve become quite good at wearing a mask that largely conceals them. But my manic phases are far more visible and public and have had some devastating consequences for my personal relationships. The impact has ranged from misunderstandings to wrecked friendships, all of which cause me deep shame...