So for the most part, it’s the “if I don’t have it, I don’t get it” mentality. Being bipolar for almost 20 years now, it has opened my eyes to a lot of things and a lot of stigmas there are out there about mental illness. I don’t want to claim ignorance, but I do want to say that for the most part we are “ignored.” For a long time in my life, my outbursts of anger, my alcoholism and my overall behavior was masked with, “it’ll be okay,” or “it’s just a phase,” and this advice was given to me by people who didn’t really understand what they were dealing with – not that I am criticizing, but you know people are only as knowledgeable as the information they are given.
There have been a lot of breakthroughs in the mental health field during the past 20 years, and one of them being awareness on the subject. People are a lot more knowledgeable as well as understanding. But the stigma still exists because there is a difference between just understanding and knowing what someone is actually going through. I love the phrase, “walk a mile in someone’s shoes before judging,” because unless you are going through a debilitating depression or a crippling manic episode you will never know or understand what that feels like.
I am glad though that my life has taken a turn where the idea of me being bipolar no longer equates me with being a leper. I can say that jobs are lined up even though I check off that “disability” box on a job application. So, even though most people still don’t understand mental health or bipolar disorder, I have learned that living with it and talking about it can enlighten someone’s thoughts on the subject.