Angry or broken-hearted? Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish

Writing slows down my racing thoughts because I must communicate them in a way you, and even I, will understand.

I’m grappling with conflicting emotions tonight and I’m not quite sure if it’s hurt or anger. Perhaps it’s a little of both. This is often the way intense emotions work for people with Bipolar Disorder.

We essentially overdose on our own feelings.

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For those of you who are also Bipolar, I know that you have had at least one person walk out of your life after they learned of your diagnosis.

It’s been said that Bipolar men and women are some of the best actors and performers in the world. I believe this is true. Actors pretend to be someone they are not on screen and stage. Those of us with Bipolar must pretend to be someone else all the time. The alternative is to be open about our disorder and face excruciating rejection.

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An entire side of my family has abandoned me and, over the years, so have many close friends. I don’t say this to make you feel sorry for me. I’ve choked on the pity that’s been shoved down my throat. I mention this to let others know they are not alone and …

It is NOT your fault. 

Those who have never had to stare down mental illness hang on to their stereotypes tightly – like a child’s treasured teddy bear or blanket. They often confuse characteristics of very different mental disorders. They don’t care that someone who has schizophrenia is not the same as someone with borderline personality disorder; and being bipolar does not mean you’re a narcissist, criminal or sociopath. They are very different conditions painted with the same broad strokes by those who don’t want to know any better.

A reoccurring theme with Bipolar individuals is the tendency to repeatedly give too much of ourselves to people who ultimately end up not being worthy of our efforts.

Why do so many of us do this? I think it’s because we want others to accept us for who we truly are, flaws and all. It is a natural human desire to be totally accepted by your peers.

We disclose our illness in an attempt to be real – to form genuine and transparent connections. We need to know who can be trusted to see us with our masks off. The reality is that the scars underneath are often too ugly for most people to stomach. They run away, perhaps in fear of suffering the same wounds or catching the terrible “disease” we have.

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Despite being someone they know very well, and maybe even love, they no longer recognize us. Their stereotypes now stand firmly in our place. It’s happened to me enough in my life that I pretend it doesn’t hurt anymore. I try to say, “oh well, it’s their loss.”

The truth is it cuts me so deep that I feel like they’ve stolen or crushed a part of my soul. It’s a feeling of rejection on the deepest level.

Personally, this scenario has played itself out repeatedly in the last six months. Many of my “friends” had previously touted their elation at having me in their lives. They leaned on me during their very difficult times and promised to be there for mine, too. My loyalty to them proved to be life-changing for me. I took punches that were meant for them only to be left bleeding.

One simple word caused the mass exodus: Bipolar.

I had served my purpose for them and was labeled more trouble than I was worth. Like I said before, they no longer saw me. All of my help, love and loyalty was replaced with stereotypes – their baggage, not mine. While I know I’m probably better off … it still hurts like hell.

I’d like to say with absolute conviction it won’t happen again. I’d like to show I’ve learned my lesson and will become a keeper of my own secret, and in doing so, shield who I really am. But we both know that would be a lie. I know that I will continue to offer my real self to others and I can only hope to gain true friends and acceptance.

Everyone says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Well you can call me insane because I will always hope for the best in people, even if the chance of finding it is one in a million.

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