Moving on anonymously – for now

15 Aug

My mom brought up a good point in regards to my dilemma of revealing or not revealing my true identity here on the blog: the kids. Playdates. Would other moms not want their kids playing with mine if they knew that I had Bipolar. Wow. Why had I not thought of this?

It’s a sad reality in our world that so many people are so incredibly ignorant to mental health issues, bipolar disorder especially. But it doesn’t surprise me. Hell, I barely knew anything about it until it jumped up and bit me in the ass. I was forced to read up on it and learn about it as fast as I could in order to get my life back in order. My husband and my parents did everything they could to help. There were countless hours spent online researching symptoms and conditions to try to confirm what the doctors were telling us about what was happening to me. My dad took me to the bookstore where we stood in front of the psychology section for a couple of hours pouring over the books on the shelves to try to find some that could help us. My mom went online and was able to find Julie Fast’s Health Cards System which she immediately ordered for me. Me, well, I was just trying to keep my head above water.

Once I received the formal diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, it was a bit of a relief to know that we had a starting point to help me begin on the road to complete recovery. That was in the Spring of 2006, and after spending the majority of that year clinically depressed, it wasn’t until the beginning of March 2007 that I began to feel like my old self again. I had learned about the extreme highs I had felt, learned why I needed an anti-psychotic medication, and had also learned what it felt like to be at the lowest low on the depression spectrum and how once I found the right medication for me – the mood stabilizer Lithium – I could be completely balanced and could stay that way as long as I managed my moods closely with my psychiatrist.

When my mom brought up the point about playdates, it really made me think. And as usual for me, I can see both sides to the argument.

If I were a mom to two small children and had never been exposed to mental illness or bipolar disorder, and only knew what I heard of it on the news or in magazine stories, than yeah, I’d probably not want my kids playing with other kids whose mother had Bipolar. If I were that uninformed about the condition, I would probably think that she was a bad mother. And as my kids grew up, they would probably begin to believe the same thing, causing my kids pain by teasing them behind their backs.

These thoughts break my heart.

On the other side, there is a huge part of me that feels that if someone is so ignorant about bipolar disorder that they wouldn’t be friends with someone who had the condition, then I wouldn’t want to associate with them anyway.

But that is just me thinking about my viewpoint on the issue. I have to think about the future here and my kids might feel differently. I hope they don’t, but I don’t want to jeopardize their childhood development based on my desire to reveal my true identity and the condition I live with each and every day of my life. It’s not fair to them to make this decision while they are so young. So I won’t.

At this point, I have chosen to move forward with the blog anonymously. I just feel like it is the right thing to do for my family – not just my kids, but for my husband too.

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4 Responses to “Moving on anonymously – for now”

  1. Sara Anderson (@bipolarmarriage) August 20, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    I am not bipolar, but I know all too well the stigma that is associated with mental illness. I say this because I think it is easier looking from the outside in to try to make black and white comments like I’m about to make. Please understand I am respecting your decision to remain anonymous. Though, I would like to challenge you on one aspect – how is hiding your illness from your child’s parents protecting your child? Are we allowing the stigma of mental illness to win? Again, like I said it is totally your decision. Though, a powerful support system is key in successful treatment of the illness and who knows maybe your playdate’s parents have direct understanding of mental illness. After all, 1 in 4 Americans are diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their life – who knows how many are walking around with mental illness that will never be diagnosed due to the fear of the stigma.

    Just a little something to think about. I challenge you to not walk away from this decision forever.

    You might be interested in some of my posts on stigma and mental illness. I’ll include the links below.

    http://www.thebipolarmarriage.com/what-stigma/
    http://www.thebipolarmarriage.com/doctorofficestigma/
    http://www.thebipolarmarriage.com/stigma-is-dead-or-is-it/

    I’m really enjoying reading your blog. Keep up the great work!!

    Blessings,
    Sara Anderson

    • bipolarandpregnant August 31, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

      Thanks Sara. I appreciate your thoughts on my decision. I hope that some day I am able to change my decision, but at this moment in my life I am not ready for that. I am pretty confident that I will reveal my identity at some point in the future. I’m actually working on a book and when it gets published, my decision will be easy – I would like the book’s release to be my starting point for speaking out as an advocate on bipolar disorder education and postpartum psychosis awareness. Thank you for your support in following my blog.

  2. Ruby Tuesday August 16, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    This absolutely breaks my heart to read, but it also reinforces to me what a strong, wonderful mother you are. I know that I would feel and act differently if I had children of my own to consider. You don’t want for them to be exposed to any type of harassment or teasing – or ignorance – but you also don’t want to hide something that is such a huge part of your life. You want to go out and advocate and educate and obliterate negative stereotypes.

    I have a friend of many, many years who just signed on to blog on “Canvas.” I’ll tell you this, because I know she wouldn’t mind, but at first she was no holds barred, no pseudonym, complete exposure. It’s the way she’s always been and I respect her tremendously for it. But she now has a baby daughter. And I found myself in the very unfamiliar position of talking her out of using her real name for the venture. I pointed out how cruel kids (not to mention adults) can be, and did she want someone connecting the dots years down the road and her daughter suffering because of it?

    Of course she didn’t, she loves her baby more than life, she just hadn’t thought of it that way. She chose a name not her own.

    My situation is completely antithetical to pretty much everyone I know who carries a mental health diagnosis. I choose to be totally anonymous online, but (as I have no children) everyone who knows me in “real life” knows at least the basics of my unusual wiring, and I will openly share with them all of the gory, personal details if they want to know them.

    Once again, you really impress me with your selflessness and true ability to put your children first. I hurt for you, but I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with your decision.

    You might check out the post below (I put the link at the very bottom) from a “Canvas” blogger (again, not advertising, just think it’s very relevant). As the comments reflect, I was in complete agreement with her – until I read your post. Neither she nor I have children, so while we could talk in hypotheticals – well, I just have to say that you made me see a completely different side of things (this is another reason why you should join us, we need a compelling viewpoint and a strong voice to oppose hers!).

    Didn’t mean to write you a novel.

    http://acanvasoftheminds.wordpress.com/2011/08/13/to-out-thyself-or-not-to-out-thyself/

    • bipolarandpregnant August 17, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

      Thank you Ruby. As I replied a few minutes ago – I do see your friend’s points and agree with the majority of what she talks about. For me I think that one day I will eventually fully disclose my identity but at this moment in time, it’s just not right for me. I know in the future it will happen though. Just a matter of when.

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