Monday, September 2, 2019

I Didn't Mean to Tell

Well, I told my family I have bipolar disorder, major depression, anxiety disorder and am an addict today.  I didn't mean to.  It's not the kind of bomb you usually drop at a Labor Day cookout meal.  Leave it to me to do something like that.

I honestly don't know how I feel about it.  As a family we were talking about some stuff that I can't really share, but then my family started throwing out some statements about mental health that I couldn't let go.  I'll just leave it at - they were talking about things that were common misconceptions and myths; things that are just not true.

I sat there and debated with myself.  I hate being the center of attention, especially with my family.  I like to just hide in the woodwork until the event is over.  But after a few minutes of hearing this junk and keeping quiet, I finally couldn't hold it in anymore.

When one family member talked about how drugs made a friend of his a paranoid schizophrenic, that was the tipping point.  I argued that mental health issues are not caused by drugs but that many with mental health issues take drugs and it exacerbates the condition.

They argued back... but again used the misunderstandings that most people have.

Usually at this point I would shut up.  I am easily intimidated and so I have a hard time holding my own, especially when my whole family believes one way and I believe another.  But this time I didn't.

I explained that I have researched this stuff for articles I am writing. I know this stuff.  Then it just came out: "I have bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder and I'm an addict.  I know what I'm talking about."

Crickets...

But only for a second.

I realized what I had done.  Even though I hadn't told them before, I have never been ashamed to talk about my mental health issues.  It just never came up.

But being an addict... that one was a closely kept secret.  I'm getting better talking about it to a few friends and I've started talking about it more to increase awareness and reduce the stigma.  But it's easy to write a blog that very few, if any, see, and totally another thing to tell your family, especially a family as judgmental as mine.

I started shaking, wondering what the fall-out would be.  But then something happened I would have never dreamed of in any scenario of how this could play out.

Most of my family went on with their conversation like I had never admitted something so personal and stigmatizing.  But the weirdest thing was that one of my brothers told me I wasn't an addict!  I was floored.

He actually started to argue with me about it.  I was so stunned I couldn't even respond. I wanted so much to say something like, "Well, I guess going to Twelve Step groups for a year and half and working the Steps with a sponsor has been a big waste of time, then."  But I didn't.  I mean, one characteristic of my family as a whole is that they don't really listen - or care.  So I just let it go.

I'm hoping that one day this will come back up and I can explain more.  Maybe they'll find this blog or hear about an event where I tell my story (still a dream but hopeful it'll happen one day) and ask me more about it.  I'm doubtful.  But at least I, though accidentally, opened the door.

#SpotlightOnStigma #SOS #WelcomedButNotAccepted #Stigma #MentalIllness #Bipolar #Addiction #SingleParenting #Alone #NotAlone #Depression #Anxiety #EatingDisorder #SuicidalThoughts #OCD  

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