I’m a mental health writer and I have a mental illness, so, of course, I write about my mental illness. I write about my symptoms and the affect they have on my life. I write about their treatments and their success or lack thereof. I write about what it’s like to have bipolar disorder.
And boy do people feel fine about judging me for it.
Commonly people will say that I don’t have bipolar disorder (being, I’m sure, expert diagnosticians) or say that I’m an idiot (and whatnot) for trying the treatments I have. It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that some things I don’t like to talk about at all. People like to attack me for electroconvulsive therapy and vagus nerve stimulator use specifically. And I don’t like to talk about self-harm, because inevitably people yell about that.
But I learned something earlier this week – not everyone judges people with a mental illness.
Speaking Opening about Bipolar Disorder
On Tuesday I was privileged to give a talk about my mental illness through the Bipolar Babe Project to a class of ninth-graders. And yes, I told them about razor blades and broken glass and surgery and electricity. And there was not a snicker or a nasty word among them. In fact, when asked to give their feedback in writing it was almost universally positive and almost every one thanked me for teaching them about bipolar disorder.
Wow. I don’t know that I saw that one coming.
Not Being Judged for Bipolar Disorder
Now true, these minds are young and not jaded like some others, but what they seemed to get out of the talk was empathy and compassion and not hatred and judgement. It was truly inspiring for me. I realized that sharing my story was having a positive impact on others.
And it’s not like I don’t know that happens every day with my writing, but it’s easy not to see it through the barrage of other garbage seen as well. Sometimes it seems like judgemental people are the only ones out there (especially if the judgy ones happen to be in our family or close circle of friends).
But they’re not. There are people that will hear you, will listen to you, will learn from you, and will surprise you with the amount that they care and understand.
Sharing Your Mental Illness Story Matters
So I have come to believe that sharing your story, in whatever way you choose to do it, to one person or in front of crowds, is meaningful. Screw the people who would judge you. They are ignorant and they are wrong. Just, plain wrong.
So please, keep being open and keep being honest because those you would help need you. And their appreciation outweighs the negative nonsense any day, even if you don’t get to see it in writing.