My name is not Cristina Fender. It’s an alias I use when I’m writing. I use an alias because I’m afraid of what would happen if my real name was revealed. Would I be ridiculed for being bipolar? The stigma of having bipolar disorder is so great that I stay in hiding. I stay in hiding mostly for my family’s sake. What would happen to my children if I came out of the closet?
I would rather come out of hiding now, but what I’ve written is embedded in Internet Land.
I’m not ashamed that I am bipolar, but to reveal it seems shameful. Bipolar Disorder is one of the top two mental illnesses in the world. Instead of being understood, I would be berated for all I have done because of my bipolar disorder. It’s shameful that I’ve self-medicated in the past (read more about bipolar disorder and self-medication). But, in the past, it was all I could do to stay afloat.
When an article I wrote came out I was so ashamed.
People commented on how I was a horrible mother, how out-of-control I was. I was out-of-control, but my bipolar medications weren’t doing their job. It was a look into my life. But, I no longer live that life. I live clean now. I drink an occasional glass of wine and that’s it.
My close family knows my secret (that I’m bipolar). My in-laws and my aunts know, too. But, other friends and family do not know that I’m bipolar. My husband looks at me inquisitively when I tell him that no one else knows. He doesn’t understand why it has to be so secret.
I’m afraid that they will look at me differently if I tell them. I don’t want to be considered crazy. I’m not crazy, especially now that I seem to be recovering well. If only the entire world would look at it like it’s a medical condition, then I would be more inclined to tell people. It is a medical condition, but until the entire community views it as such there will always be stigma attached to bipolar disorder.
My hope is that someday I will be more comfortable and be able to tell more people about my disorder. Bipolar Disorder shouldn’t be a shameful thing. We all have our ups and our downs in life. Mine just have been more than others’. I shouldn’t feel ashamed, and, yet, I do. It’s not like it’s something I can help. It’s like having diabetes or heart disease. I wouldn’t be ashamed to say that.
I had an opening to tell my very good friend of over 15 years. She asked me why I chose social work. I glossed over the explanation omitting that I’m bipolar. I just felt like a liar for not telling her, but I felt like it was so private. Telling her I was bipolar would’ve opened up a can of worms. I don’t know if I’m ready for that can to open. It may stay closed my entire life. I just don’t know yet.