The Stigma Of Mental Illness Is Why I am Ashamed

Hiding your mental illness only perpetuates more stigma...
Hiding your mental illness only perpetuates more stigma...
A secret no more.
A secret no more.

I don't want to keep a secret

A new friend I had recently met was coming to my house for a weekend visit. This was going to be the first time she spent time at my house. After she arrived and settled in, she begin browsing through my bookshelves. She commented on the amount of books I had on bipolar disorder and mental illness. "Are you crazy"? she asked seriously. Looking back at me with a cock-eyed sneer. I shamefully and immediately told her no, "I just like a variety of books." Her response should have been my first red flag. "Oh, because I don't do crazy" she said matter of fact.

Some of us more often ignore that first red flag. I should of been angry, but I was not, I was ashamed, ashamed of revealing my mental illness, ashamed I even had a mental illness. What I should of said was, "well then I guess you better get in your car and go back where you came from." But I unfortunately didn't. I chose to hide my bipolar illness instead. Because I was completely ashamed. On every level. I was more worried about what she would of thought of me than the actual direction of the friendship.

This woman most likely would not, and could not empathize with someone who had a mental illness. So my first line of defense was to stay silent for a few weeks to see were the friendship might go. It may not have been necessary to reveal my mental health history at all. Why reveal anything if I didn't have to? It was obvious she couldn't possibly grasp what it meant to be mentally ill. It was not part of the perfect world she chose to live in.

What good would it do her to know I was diagnosed at 33, during a lengthy hospital stay resulting from a psychotic manic episode so severe I was lucky to have made it out alive? The voices were so intensely loud I could hear nothing else. The outrageous erratic behaviors I adopted, drinking, impulsive sex, self-injury, and god-like beliefs. The extreme happiness I felt, and then before my very eyes I plummeted into an abyss so deep I thought I'd never return. Did she really need to know this about me when I wasn't even sure of the relationship?

This same cycle would repeat itself over and over, year after year. So I ask does she really want or need to hear this? Does not telling her make for a real friendship? Does it make me a liar? The question is when to tell her if at all. Is there even a right time to tell someone such a thing? There is no easy way to share this kind of information. Not for me anyway. Especially with someone who disregards mental illness as a bad joke, believing it is something psychiatrists created to get paid.

And when you do reveal your secret, you need to be ready for them to turn around and walk out the door. Not everybody is willing to live with someone who has a mental illness. Or even willing to gain the knowledge of that mental illness, so be prepared for that rejection.

From experience I am inclined to think it is probably better to bring it up early. With little time invested in the relationship. I have waited to tell, and that proved disastrous. And I have told early on as well. The rejection was much easier early on. It really depends on the person and what their feelings are about mental illness. But you really need to do what feels right to you. And telling her didn't feel right at the time. I could have saved myself a ton of grief. For us both had I shared my secret. It also would have been easier had the stigma of mental illness didn't overwhelm me.

So the idea is to choose wisely. Tread lightly and expect the worse, because you never know what the other person is going to do. This particular person was the meanest, most uncaring person I had ever met in my entire life. She was not as she seemed when I first met her. She told me what a freak I was, that I was a liar, and should be put in a nuthouse with the rest of the freaks. So you see? Not everyone can handle being told you have a mental illness. People like her are the ones who perpetuate stigma, and keep it going.

I gently told this person I had bipolar about three months after we met. Perhaps I should have said yes when she asked about the books. But I was not prepared to do so at that time. So then perhaps maybe I am a liar. But I am not a freak because I have a mood disorder. I tried to no avail to explain and teach her about my disorder, but she would not hear of it. It didn't fit into her world. I was just another fruitcake psycho in her eyes.

"There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance" she said. "And you know this how"? I asked in return. She just stated that she knew it was a bunch of crap. So I guess that proves everything doesn't it? So perhaps you can see my reluctance with revealing my bipolar disorder to anyone. Shame is a hard one to let go of. It isn't like saying I have an illness like diabetes, or high blood pressure, it is more of a reflection of who I am. And being mentally ill makes me uncomfortable.

But if I do not reveal it, there is no way to stomp out the stigma, right? People are who they are. I have bipolar, that does not make me a freak. As much as some people might see it that way, for me, it does not make it so. Happily, that person is no longer part of my life. I choose my friends a little bit more wisely these days. I try to conquer stigma instead of suffocating it, but I still struggle with saying I am bipolar. no matter how understanding someone seems or appears to be. I am ashamed. Period.

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Comments 53 comments

Stamina1962 profile image

Stamina1962 3 years ago from Jamestown, NY

Our silence has done nothing but allow society to blame us for every evil thing that is done,we need to speak out; be strong for those who love you and be stronger for those who are like you!

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 4 years ago from Washington MI Author

Well thank you for sharing your thoughts. It means a great deal to hear what others think. I know for a long time I tried to deny ever being bipolar. People just freaked out about it. But I am learning that I have to be who I am and that includes being bipolar. Can't deny it no matter how hard I try. I take my meds and I also walk, mostly for anxiety and a little bit of weight control. I lost 40 lbs which I didn't intend to lose. But I'll take it. We just have to remember we are who we are and whatever that is it is okay. I am learning to let people have their judgements, and that's all they are-judgements. Doesn't make us any less a normal person. Thank you for your kind words.

Diane Woodson profile image

Diane Woodson 4 years ago from Evansville, Indiana

The point you make about people thinking you are a freak is exactly a big part of the reason I stopped my meds more than once. I just knew my boss knew I was bipolar so I resigned the best job I ever had 5 yrs ago. I went into a binge of drinking, sex, thought i was fine, just one beer....yeah right, that is what almost got me in a hospital. I agreeed to take the meds and am as normal as anybody now with both of the ones take. Granted, I have gained weight but if I could keep my nose out of the pnut butter jar I would not gain, I walk an hour a day, summer does make me manic sometimes and seasonal changed, I have had no real real bad depression since I was 26 and am 56...Happy and high functioning now and at the least sign of anything different my husband takes me to the psych and I agree to more out of control for us.....thanks for a great Hub and we

are not freaks no not a bit, we just need understanding and love, a bit of patience. we are different the way God made us, he permitted it for me to be a stronger person, more resilient...I love your thought provoking work...

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 4 years ago from Washington MI Author

Thank you, your comment makes a lot of good sense. It really is no one's business. But I am on disability and am often asked why? And so lo and behold I divulge my illness or I lie, sadly I have lied about the nature of my illness. Most people I find are not so understanding when I say I am bipolar, wording it differently may have an impact. Thank you for your insight Ann, and sharing your opinion.

Insanity Inc profile image

Insanity Inc 4 years ago from Vermont, USA

Hey Brave lady: Good for you!!! I'm sure you understand that ultimately it all boils down to PEOPLE FEAR WHAT THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND. I, myself, made the decision long ago to simply not tell. It's no one's business, and I refuse to put myself in the position of being judged by that criteria. I am ANN, I am NOT bipolar. I HAVE bipolar, like people HAVE cancer. Haven't you noticed that people don't say "I'm cancer" "I'm arthritis" etc? I don't feel dishonest in my omission...I'm just protecting my privacy. Again: Good for you!!! And thanks!!!

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 4 years ago from Washington MI Author

I recently found out an ex-family member has been calling me 'CRAZY' and doesn't want his kids anywhere near me. I don't know whether to be mad or hurt. Probably seriously insulted. he has never seen my moods, as he divorced my sister 12 years ago and I have seen him on one or two occasions. The kids have not see my extreme moods, they their whole life wanted to live me, I am good to them as opposed to what he call a father. I never bad mouthed him to them, was always respectful to him and he tell everybody he wants me gone because I am crazy. I am just so crushed. Mainly because it reflects on the kids(niece and nephews) so fighting stigma is even more important.It does get old trying to always prove you are a serial killer or a joke.

Rusti Mccollum profile image

Rusti Mccollum 4 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

I see a physciatrist twice a month (this months only one he's on vacation.) I am not ashamed the people that look down on me.,don't want to be my friend, they are the ones who should be ashamed.

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 4 years ago from Washington MI Author

Glad to see you back on HubPages, you were missed. It is good to know I am not in my struggle for stamping out stigma alone. The more people know, the more they can try and understand and spread the word mental illness is not contagious.

akeejaho profile image

akeejaho 4 years ago from Somewhere in this beautiful world!

i appreciated the article and the pain. I too let people know up front that I am bipolar. Not much of an icebreaker i'll admit, but it sure weeds out those who are understanding and willing to learn and listen, and those who are not. I often give links or send them to my work once they know to learn more about me, and others like me. For those who are interested, things go much smoother.

Continue trying to stamp out the stigma that the uneducated saddle us with, and I will continue to do the same. we might not do it together, but it is a start. Proud to be writing on the same subject as you my friend. You speak the truth. Bill

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 4 years ago from Washington MI Author

I am sorry that you are going through this, it must be very difficult for you. Letting him know you support him, as well as telling him his mania is part of his illness is a good approach. It is often impossible for the person in the grips of mania to realize the damage they are doing while manic because they don't function in reality all of the time. I would continue to urge him of what you two have and he is acting out in a state that is not healthy. That his manic episode is fueling his behavior, that you have many years together and do not want to lose him, that perhaps urging him to please take his meds so he can see what is happening more clearly. I wish the best for you both, you are very strong and supportive to have lasted 18 years. I am proud of you for sticking it out and hope he see's what is going on and seeks treatment asap. Please take care of yourself first and foremost.

judy 4 years ago

My husband is bipolar and currently in a manic state he disappeared about 4 weeks ago I have just been told he is in cambodia and engaged to a 26yr old transgender female he is 52.He is still in a state of mania causing havoc.I am trying to find a way to deal with this.His last manic episode we found him in an east timor prison after stealing a yacht.While he is in cambodia and not taking his meds I do not know how to help him.He sees me as the enemy since meeting his new friend.I have been married to him for 18yrs and knew about his illness but was totally acceptable of it as nobody is perfect.He refuses to take his meds when he feels well but this leads to an early relapse.

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 5 years ago from Washington MI Author

Thanks for commenting Jeff. Oh those alcohol fueled mania's are i do know about. Have seen a job go bye bye because of them. Glad you are stable now. It is always a rough road getting there isn't it?

bipolar-living profile image

bipolar-living 5 years ago

Good job fighting the stigma crazybean. I tell most of the people I meet very soon. At work I would wait until I felt I could trust the person to understand. Having it known at my work hurt me as far as moving up. I don't work there anymore. Got fired over some alcohol fueled manic behavior. It might be a blessing in disguise. I am blogging now, meeting cool people online, and being stable. Good post, thanks. -- Jeff

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 5 years ago from Washington MI Author

Hey vox, Thank you very much for your support. It is your kind of support that is most appreciated, and the kind those with a mental illness are looking for. High five to your generosity of spirit. Thank you for the kindness of heart.

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 5 years ago

It's a pity how some people react on mental illnesses. But hey, if you meet people like that "friend" of yours, just turn your back on them and keep moving.

There is such a thing as chemical imbalance and it can be treated. It's just very important that you see your doctor regularly. It's also a good thing that you're reading books about your illness. Learning more about it can do you no harm.

All the best to you...get well :)

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 5 years ago from Washington MI Author

Hi annymarie-Yes she believed she was above all the doctors and thought therapists were stupid. Glad that part of my life is is in the past. Thank you for sharing your struggle and being so open, it took some time for me to get back up after my experience with her, but I don't let people push me around like that anymore. Thank you for the comment annymarie.

amymarie_5 profile image

amymarie_5 5 years ago from Chicago IL

I agree with Earnesthub's comment that this woman who was so cruel to you probably has a mental disorder herself, not to mention she is incredibly ignorant! Does she believe she knows more than doctors and scientists? I am so sorry that you have dealt with someone like this. Rest assured, most people are not like that- Just look at all the encouraging comments you received for this hub!

I take anti-depressants and mental illness runs in my family (depression and bipolar). I understand the prejudice that's out there but we have to rise above it.

I love that you wrote this hub. It's very brave. I hope you continue getting positive feedback. Take care.

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 5 years ago from Washington MI Author

Thank you Anne, it has taken a few years of blood sweat and tears to get where I am at in my recovery. Thank you for your insight...

Anne Pettit profile image

Anne Pettit 5 years ago from North Carolina

Individuals who survive struggles are special. The skills you have developed in order to cope are extraordinary. Thankyou for your hub and thankyou for being candid. You have helped people.

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 5 years ago from Washington MI Author

Hi seekingmeme- Thank you for your insight. You are right. Wearing a mask can be a full time job. I found the more I said I am bipolar, the easier it was for me to feel empowered about myself and not like some freak hiding under a rock. Take your time, go at your own pace,tell those that you trust. The more you say it out loud the easier it becomes.

seekingmeme profile image

seekingmeme 5 years ago from North Carolina

Kudos to you for taking the mask off your own illness. I am slowly learning how to do that myself. My therapist said, "Sometimes maintaining the mask is harder than dealing with the emotions beneath." She's right. I've fought for so long to appear "normal" that my own mask began to crack. Coming out about mental illness is, I suppose, not unlike coming out about sexual orientation. Once the truth is out there, people will pass judgement and either embrace you and love you anyway or scatter like cockroaches when the lights are turned on.

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 5 years ago from Washington MI Author

So right you are Baileybear. She got the boot. I moved away and that was that :)

Baileybear 5 years ago

she sounds like a 'friend' you don't need

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 5 years ago from Washington MI Author

I used to care what people's reactions were, not so much anymore. I have learned to accept who I am, if someone is offended by that, it isn't my problem. I find people just don't want to deal with someone who has a mental illness, they don't want to take the time to understand or open their hearts to the reality. But that is their loss. And that is the way it is. Keep learning about your illness, and educating the people around you, that is the one way we will stop the stigma. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

kikkibabe 5 years ago

Hi thanks for sharing this hub =). i too have just been diagnosed with bipolar and i tell people that i have as im so used to people walking away as they can't handle me. I don't really understand it myself so don't expect anyone else to. x

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 5 years ago from Washington MI Author

IN2Deep-Thank you :)

lovaza-I believe it is up to the individual to reveal your mental illness. I just won't hide it anymore. I have been shamed enough and won't be made to feel like an outsider for something I have no control over. I did not ask to be bipolar or invite it into my life. It became an illness as any other. Yes I do become ashamed at times, but I won't let that push me back into a dark closet anymore.

Some people no matter how hard you try o educate them just will NOT get it. You are so right we have every right to be treated respectively and not judged, and perhaps one day we will accomplish that goal. Thank you so much for sharing your comments.

lovaza 5 years ago

I deal with Bipolar Disorder for most of my life and I have come to realize how careful I need to be to NOT reveal about my illness. I understand your hub perfectly because of the hesitation on whether or not to reveal your illness. Friendships are hard to form and when someone cannot accept the fact that mental illness is not being a fake or a freak...then I won't have anything to do with them. Also, I dislike it when I do happen to mention about my illness, the person would just sit and have that look in their eyes like they have NO comprehension of what Bipolarism entails; it's that blank look with no understanding(unless they happen to experience depression) or empathy about the mood swings I go through and never mind the lack of sympathy and support that I expect. So there some people I have this sense of NOT revealing my illness; it is my right as a human being to be treated with respect and dignity and not being judged as a freak, or crazy.

IN2Deep profile image

IN2Deep 5 years ago

This is a really great hub.Thank you for sharing :)

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI Author

Thanks tmoss for the insight into Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

tmoss1026 profile image

tmoss1026 6 years ago

Intermittent Explosive Disorder is an anger disorder that takes away your control overaggressive impulses.

Signs: Within seconds a person's mood will go from completely calm, to totally out of control and into a violent rage towards other people or property. Most of the time it will be over the smallest thing most people wouldn't even get upset about.

The cause is the lack of serotonin and testosterone to the frontal lobe region of the brain. (Serotonin is a brain chemical that helps a person stay calm & reason, instead of reacting too fast.)

The disorder is found in males more than females, and the most common age is twelve to about thirty. But there are cases where the male has been much younger than adolescence, and much older than thirty.

How does it affect a person? Most people have what we call a grey area of the brain, this grey area will allow a person with a "normal" brain to stop and rationalize the situation before reacting. A person with I.E.D. doesn't have this rationalizing capability, which is what causes their temper to go from 0-60 within seconds.

Whose life does it affect? Everyone that's involved. If the child has it, the parents and other siblings in the house suffer. If the husband has it, the wife suffers while trying to protect the children.

Be aware: this disorder cannot be hidden from anyone, this illness doesn't care when it snaps, or where it snaps, or who it snaps on. (Wives, kids, grandparents, neighbors, bosses, even the family pet.) It doesn't get embarrassed who's watching either. (It could be at work, the grocery store, a restaurant, the privacy of your own home, or in the middle of a public place. This mental illness does not care who's listening. (Not even the police)

***What are the common things that make a person with IED snap?***

> banging or hitting your head accidentally

> stress

> the heat

> the inability to properly communicate feelings into words

(this one strongly affects both adult males and adolescence males)

You will find when a person is having an attack, the behavior from the adult male is not much different from the child's behavior (which makes it really hard for the female who is witnessing the attack.)

Watching a child "flip out" and start throwing stuff around their room, flipping their bed over and banging their head on the wall is not near as scary as watching a full grown man do the same thing.

Roger can be contacted at

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI Author

Hi Minnetonka-You are so right. Enemies are kinder. Not everyone has the capacity to understand a mental illness or something they are not familiar with. Thank you for such kind words.

Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 6 years ago from Minnesota

I am just saddened and disgusted by the way this past person handled the topic of mental illness. She sounds likes she is dealing with her own demons and maybe this is why she had such a dramatic reaction to your diagnosis. I too have learned that people like this are not worth the time. You have a mental illness which would make most people feel empathy about your struggles. I am glad to hear you took her off your friend list because with friends like this, who needs enemies, right? God Bless and great job on being yourself.

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI Author

Thank you so much Scribnet :)

Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

You are doing a wonderful job! Every time you write,you are showing the world how wonderfully talented you are! I think there are famous newscasters that have bipolar illness, so you are in the greatest company!

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI Author

Hi Scribenet-I was ridiculed for not divulging my illness. Being called a liar somehow made me feel ashamed of ever wanting to reveal it ever again. But after taking a hard look at people like that so-called friend I realized I am a person too. I am not perfect, I am what I am, and learned to not be ashamed.

The stereotypes are the hardest to swallow. But people either give you a chance or they don't. Period. I just want people to know mental illness is not always a monster it is portrayed to be.

Yes there are bad people with mental illness and there are people that are just sociopaths, that are not mentally ill. Unfortunately the two are all to often meshed into the same boat.

Thank you for your generous understanding. It means a lot to know people do understand, and if they don't they are willing. Thank you :)

Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I suppose there is a difference between not telling "rather than" hiding an illness, whether mental or physical.

In many instances,it simply is not anyone's business, unless there is a valid reason to let another know; like educating people, as you are doing or a personal relationship or other situations that would be affected by the illness.

The "friend" that didn't do crazy was probably best to let go of from the moment the words were said. Perhaps some bitter experience, but no use to think it has anything to do with you.

It is unfortunate there are so many stereotypes and fixed attitudes out there, but trust your writing is helping lift the shroud of ignorance. Bravo to you!

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI Author

Thank you lisa for your input, you are so right. 6 years ago

There are so many people that don't understand and it makes them nervous. I too have lost many friends. I try to think of it as they were never meant to be friends and you have more room for the real friends. Good Luck!

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI Author

Hi DzyMsLizzy-Exactly.I use to work in the prison system, and it was horrible the way the mentally ill were treated. Over the years it has gotten better, but it is such a huge problem you can't fix it overnight. Thank you so much for your very insightful input. I enjoy hearing from you always.

Hi lorie6-I run into people who are very receptive, and then those people who are so adamantly against mental illness like it is something one does for attention. I have had to learn to not care what 'those' people think of me anymore. I have chosen to finally live a healthy 'boring' lifestyle. I don't want to die trying to find my way anymore. And saying yes i am bipolar or mentally ill or whatever is what I have to do to live MY life. I am happy to hear you are being treated for your bipolar. I wish you continued wellness :)

Hi amerilia- It sounds like you have been through hell and back yourself. It is a sad day when in this day and age people cannot let others live the way they are happy. It sounds like you had a difficult transition. I understand your dilemma when meeting new people, questions that you don't want to answer, afraid of the remarks or losing a friendship. I hope you are finding happiness with your wife, and getting the support that you need, because I think having a support system of some kind is essential. Write me anytime :) I am here.

Thank you all for sharing such personal information I enjoy reading and meeting you. It means alot that you read what I have to write, and I love hearing what you have to say, that includes how you deal with things in your own lives. Thank you :)

amerilia 6 years ago

I've had so many experiences similar to that, and I've watched a lot of people ignore my wife's feelings as well. While I don't have bipolar disorder myself, my wife does. Time and time again, I have noticed when my had a mood swing or an episode (especially half a year ago when she was unmedicated for a couple of years because she was immigrating and didn't have health care) people didn't even try to have understanding but instead reacted in anger. My own grandmother - who had a daughter of her own who did not only have mental developmental disabilities, but also parkinsons disease and bipolar disorder - was like that, as well as my father. Things have been said like "Are you sure she isn't doing that for attention? They do things like that" and "Send her home!" My wife's mother also seems to be just as judgmental about her past, even though there were things that were undiagnosed and not understood. I can't help to think that mass worldwide education needs to be done on mental health issues.

On my side of things, I am a transgender woman, and honestly, things aren't any better. It has been said that coming out to friends when you transition is kind of a litmus test as to see who really cares about you and who your true friends are. It also works with family, as I have at least a few family members who are now downright cold to me (And yes, the church can be the worst sometimes as well).

At the same time, even though I interact with others as female in society (I pass as female easily), a part of me doesn't want to tell them about me being trans because if I do, they could treat me differently. From misgendering/improperly pronouning me (using male pronouns intentionally and without even realizing it), to asking questions about my genitalia (have you had surgery), to what my male name used to be, to treating me differently and feeling completely open about talking about sexual things, it's really a pain and not necessarily something I want to go through on a daily basis.

However, if I became good friends with someone, would I want to hide such a large part of my life/past from someone that I want to be close with? It's a hard situation to deal with sometimes, and it really is a good litmus test between who I want to be in my life and those who I don't. That being said, being a transwoman married to an overweight lesbian woman who has bipolar disorder is in itself a good litmus test for friendship.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

Yes--PS... I received a similar type comment as the one here from "Pakclinic" on one of my hubs, and HP told me to go ahead & delete it and report it as spam.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Kudos to you for sharing about Bi-Polar! This is a beautifully written article that speaks to many of us. I was in my 50's when diagnosed, and much of my behavior was finally understandable. I am currently taking meds which control the mania and depression and am grateful for the chemical 'help.'

Pakclinic made an unfortunate entry here on your hub, readers are not supposed to be self-promoting.

I applaud you for your honesty and look forward to reading more.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

Hi, there!

A very courageous stand. It will take many people with your courage to speak up and educate society. (and alcoholism is "not" a chemical imbalance....why? how?!!)

There are many types of chemical imbalances that cause various ills in the body, including (but not limited to) diabetes, as 2besure pointed out. There is no reason for discrimination on that basis alone.

Certainly the sociopaths and psycopaths need to be held aside from the population at large if they are violent, but that is a very small percentatge of people within the wide scope of all mental illnesses. That said, they should be hospitalized for treatment, not locked away and forgotten as in the past.

As Tammy L pointed out, society stigmatizes lots of people for as many irrational reasons having to do with their own predjudices--you see how many centuries it took for women to be allowed to hold public office, based on just such a stigma of "being crazy" every month.

It sounds as if your would-be friend was a very predjudiced, fearful and insecure individual.

Kudos on speaking up!

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI Author

Hi DSteelman-I know exactly what you mean. They were an odd bunch. Yet they refused to acknowledge the drinking 12 hours out of the day every day. And I was crazy :O Thank you for your insight. It means a lot.

Hi earnestshub-You know you are probably right. I award you an honorary bipolar, so now when you are confronted with stigma you have to squish it :) Thank you for your kindness.

pakclinic- I think you just wanted to advertise your link, because I wrote about bipolar not anorexia, and I kind of feel like you are putting my article down. That's okay too. I don't have any anger, and my life is not lacking color, believe me. So thanks?!

earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

Well I think we all have some sort of mental illness. Your ex-friend is a lot sicker than you for example.

I like the idea of saying you are bipolar straight away too. It will help you avoid the type of people who have the self imposed mental illness displayed in her uncaring attitude. One of my mates is bi-polar, he is one of the smartest people I know. Comes with the territory with Bi-polar disorders.

Actually I may start telling strangers I have bi-polar so I can pick the people I want to know more quickly!

DSteelman profile image

DSteelman 6 years ago from Bucks County, PA

I commend you for putting yourself out there... very well written. As someone who deals with bi-polar disorder, I know how difficult it is some days. I also find it interesting that a group of alcoholics would find fault in someone who is bipolar (in your comment).

Society continues to floor me.

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI Author

2besure- I think sometimes the church has some outdated ideas about mental illness, especially the Catholic Church. I am glad to hear you sought treatment. Many people don't.

lbidd54- Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope the more people learn about mental illness they will have a tendency to understand.

lbidd54 profile image

lbidd54 6 years ago from The beautiful Jersey Shore

Thank you for your honest article. You show great courage in sharing knowledge concerning your particular disease in order to educate others. Godspeed.

2besure profile image

2besure 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

I get it crazybeanrider, it took me until my fifties to get medication for depression. One of the greatest stigmas for mental illness, is in the church!

crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI Author

Hi 2besure-Thank you for your great reply to my hub. I know there is no reason not to seek treatment when there is so much help out there for mental illness. Some people are just afraid of the stigma, but I had to decide that I don't want to hide anymore.

cathylynn that is wonderful the way you have embraced your mental illness and made a good life for yourself. The friend of mine I think was afraid I would do some horrible act of violence. Her whole family was the same way. They were alcoholics, and just refused to grasp that mental illness is real. Thank you for commenting, I admire your courage and success.

Hi Tammy-You are so right. We are not friends anymore, it would be impossible to put up with that kind of intolerance.

You are very kind Tammy, thank you, I am following you as well. I appreciate all your comments, they make me happy :)

Tammy L profile image

Tammy L 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

I don't know how old your "friend" is but she will figure out on her own there IS a such thing as chemical imbalance and every female on the planet endures this "temporary insanity" sometime around age 50. It also appears that you are not the one with the problem, she is. She cannot accept you for who you are and get to know you. If she cannot accept your illness, how good of a friend would she make? You wouldn't be able to talk to her about anything.

Nearly all illnesses have their own stigmas. When I told a neighbor that my sister died from AIDS, her first question to me was "Was she gay?" My immediate response was rather calm. I told her homosexuality was not the only way to transmit this terrible virus.

My knowing about your illness doesn't change anything. I won't stop following you because of it.

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cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US


i'm schizophrenic. my job requires that i have a serious mental illness, so everyone knows. yes, i think honesty about mental illness helps to fight stigma from those who have anything close to an open mind, but i was once in a group where a member quit when she found out i was ill. some folks refuse to learn. your acquaintance seems to have been in that group. perhaps she had a mother who suffered from mental illness and refused to get help and so was neglectful. you may never know why she is so judgmental.

meds work well for me. i've had no symptoms since 1995. if it weren't for my job, no one would ever guess that i have a chronic illness. even when i had symptoms, i, like the vast majority of folks with schizophrenia, was never dangerous. sociopaths, also called psychopaths, don't have a conscience and tend to be criminals. folks with other mental illnesses like yours and mine don't commit crimes at any greater rate than the general population, although we are victims more often.

2besure profile image

2besure 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Thank you for taking the mask off mental illness. Chemical imbalance is not different then having diabetes or many other illness. I myself have battled with depression from the age of 6 years old. There is so much information and help out there today that was not available before. You will always find people who do not understand or are intolerant. Great hub!

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