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Price of Being Bipolar in Public

Here I am. Writing. In public. About being crazy.

Here I am. Being crazy. In public. Under scrutiny.

I’ve been writing about being bipolar for seven years now, in a very closed, anonymous environment. People didn’t know my name, or see my face. By design. Anonymity has a way of allowing the truth to flourish.

feathered quill and ink potThe writing has always been just mine. It didn’t have to please anyone or be nice to anyone. It didn’t have to explain itself or be reasonable. It didn’t have to be good or make sense. It didn’t have to be edited or looked at ever again. The blood didn’t have to be scrubbed from its corners.

But now I have a face. A face with alabaster skin and blazing hair. Now I’m corporeal. Now there are people looking over my actual shoulder. Now everyone will see the blood.

And I’m terrified. I’m terrified to be here, to be writing, to be crazy, to be ill, to be seen. I hide in the shadows. I like it that way.

But like all other writers, I feel I have to write. I have to write. There are ideas and folds and fragments inside of me scratching and begging to be let out. Their claws are long, sharp, and cut so very deeply.

In real life, I feel so unexpressed. What little truth I share is a whisper in a windstorm.

I’m here. I’m over here. See me. Please.

But people, not surprisingly, see what I’ve externally crafted: what I’ve molded and put into place to hide the crazy.

I’m aware that I can’t afford for everyone to know I’m sick because it affects everything from how I’m looked at, to whether I’m trusted to babysit. I know being bipolar makes people frightened and creates a space between me and the supposed sane. I know that it hinders career trajectory or even my ability to get a job. I know bipolar disorder keeps people from seeing anything but a sad girl drowning in a Jackson Pollock painting.

But I also know that me, the actual me, is in here somewhere. It might be hiding behind the bipolar curled up, very small in the corner, or it might be locked in a closet with bipolar holding the key. But I’m in here. Somehow, somewhere, I want someone to understand who I really am, what I really do. Understand what it is to have to fight a disease so much bigger and stronger than, everything. To fight it every day. Somehow, I need to have people outside the four walls of my apartment listen to me scream. I need someone to witness the suffering. I need someone to palpate all dimensions of an all consuming pain. I need people to know what real life is.

So I’m here, and I’m writing. So I’m here, and I’m trying. I’m trying to speak to you. I’m trying to tell you the truth.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

40 thoughts on “Price of Being Bipolar in Public”

  1. Well put. Keep on keeping on, for those of us still hiding in the dark, trying to pretend the pretend, and feeling like we are silently dying alone around all these familiar strangers.

  2. Yes, that is what it’s like to b bi-polar! Always hiding the real u. Because people are so judgement. They will treat u , like u have the Black Plague. They shun u sometimes. They just don’t understand u. Yes, I too, will have to hide out, back in the shadows. Trying to keep it all hiding, from everyone else. Afraid to b the real u!! I have had a lot of mental & phyical issues. I just have to make myself go on!! Trying not, to b stuck, in your life!! Thank u for listening. I loved you open, & honesty!

  3. I undersand where you are coming from, but I do object to referring to yourself as “crazy”. I was diagnosed in 2003, although I knew that I was suffering from some sort of mental illness for quite awhile. If you call yourself crazy than you are just perpetuating a sterotype. Sterotypes are what keep people from seeking help.Bi-polar disorder is an illness and yes it is possible to get well, I did. Maybe this comes with age, but eventually you have to accept yourself as you are, and stop repeating the mantra that “I am mentally ill, and therefore I am crazy”. Best of luck to you in the future.

  4. hi natasha
    i love your posts. you are a very courageous woman and a wonderful writer. keep writing.all the best.

  5. I lost a few jobs for being such a colossal jerk during a manic episode. I was ashamed for so long. Plus, I was known in the neigborhood, as someone who was a nut, and I was so embarrassed for years afterward. I suffered from agoraphobia, and anxiety disorders as well. After my manic episode, I retreated for months, in shame, having lost close friends, my college “career,” and my reputation as a normal, quiet young woman. I had a long stint of not working (agoraphobia), and finally, with lots of therapy, got back into the working world. The fact that we are all still here plugging away is proof of resilience. We have to pat ourselves on the back because sometimes (mostly), no one else will. I hate having this condition, but I hate it mostly because I have a TERRIBLE habit of comparing my life with that of “normal” people. I never win. I am trying to be positive to lift myself out of the still shamefulness I possess for being “poor” in my middle age. I desperately want to be positive.

  6. Thanks Natasha,
    You are wonderful to write what you did.I have Bi-Polar for 20 years and it has been far from easy at times.I find to keep a diary is a good idea about ones thoughts on a daily basis as its interesting to look back in to those dairys and in my case see that more or less the same type of thoughts reoccur.

  7. Thanks Natasha and I really look forward to reading more from everyone. I just have to say that I’ve woken up this morning feeling on top of the world and loving every minute of it. 🙂

  8. Hi David.

    Welcome. I’m glad you found something here to connect with. That makes my job worthwhile, and I’m sure the other commenters here are also glad to hear it.

    I started blogging just to express all the things that were built up in my head too. I wrote every day, more than 1000 words a day I had so much to say. Not many people read it, but it wasn’t about that, I too found that by writing them it got them out of my head, and that was the point.

    Feel free to share you opinions and stories here. Many do find that camaraderie helpful.

    Thanks.

    – Natasha

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