Drop It

I don’t often tell people in real life that I have bipolar disorder. As would be expected, that’s on a need-to-know basis, and most people don’t need to know. As far as family and friends go, a few know, but most don’t. They do know, however, that I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression (mostly because I post links and stuff on Facebook, not so much me telling them directly), which is enough to explain any odd behaviors on my part. Even with new doctors, I avoid mentioning it unless I’m specifically asked why I’m taking certain medications. (A couple doctors didn’t bat an eye, but another acted flabbergasted before telling me, “that’s okay…that’s okay, don’t worry about it.” Awkward.)

Recently, one of the few people that knows brought it up. The ones that know generally don’t mention it — they sometimes ask how things are going, if everything is all right with me in such a serious way that I know what they’re referring to, but that’s the extent of it. My answers are usually “things are fine,” “things are okay,” or “things are a little tough right now, but they’ll be okay soon enough.” +0 points for transparency.

“I don’t think you have bipolar disorder,” this person told me. I had regretted telling this friend, who was more of a pal and less of a close friend (if you know what I mean), but it was an alcohol-induced admission, one of those times when I had too much to drink and had gotten emotional and said too much. Ugh.

“Okay…” I was taken aback. The comment was out of left field (we hadn’t even been discussing anything related to mental health).

“My cousin has bipolar disorder, and it’s really bad,” he said. “I’ve never seen things bad with you at all, so you probably don’t have that. It’s just something else with you.”

Right. Someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time around me, who has never had an in-depth conversation with me about my mental health issues, knows better than my psychiatrist and doctor.

“Okay…well, things do get bad with me. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with bipolar disorder for a reason. And…after almost a year and a half, that diagnosis hasn’t changed.”

“Yeah,” he said, “but I’ve never seen it with you. And bipolar disorder is bad. My cousin can barely function sometimes. I really think you’ve got something else.”

I started feeling kinda pissed, but didn’t let it show. “Maybe your cousin has type 1. I have type 2. But it’s not going to look the same with everyone. And you probably won’t ever see anything from me. Not to mention, I’m on medications that help a lot, and that can take a long time to get right for many people,” I rambled.

Drop it. 

“My cousin doesn’t take anything, but I feel like I would see it from you if you had it,” he insisted.

“Okay. Like I said, my psychiatrist has diagnosed me. With mixed features. And I’ve actually read the criteria, so I know that it fits.” Plus, in a period of doubt once — when I had myself had convinced that the psychiatrist was wrong, since who wants to have something that’s going to be wrong with them lifelong and take meds lifelong? — the psychiatrist had broken out her copy of the DSM-5 and went through it with me, hitting on all my symptoms that fit the criteria.

“You know, they really do over diagnose bipolar disorder now,” he told me. “I read about it online.”

This was pointless. And ridiculous…why should I have to convince something like this to someone who really didn’t have a clue — not about me, not about bipolar disorder, not about how to be a polite person? “Right. I’m sure they do.” And then I changed the subject, which I should’ve already done.

People always do this sort of thing — when you’re anxious, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with your brain, but you just need to stop worrying. It’s easy enough for everyone else, so it should be for you, right? Same with depression — everyone gets a little sad sometimes, so you just need to get over it.

I don’t really have any point with this post other than to get something that had been bothering me for a few weeks off my chest. I could tell you not to be that person who makes such comments, but if you’re someone who reads this blog, I probably don’t need to say that.

Edit: Also (since I’ve said it a couple times in the comments already), I don’t think people always have bad intentions when they make ignorant comments or push with topics like this. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating, but does make the difference between being ticked off and wanting to punch someone in the throat.


44 thoughts on “Drop It

  1. I think I would have had a little less patience with your friend then you did. Good job on keeping your composure together.

    When a situation comes up like that I just tell the person they may be right. I may not have bipolar, but it doesn’t matter what my diagnosis is. What matters is that the meds I take saved my life and continue to make my life worth living. That usually ends the conversation.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks! People are just clueless sometimes with mental health. And this situation was relatively mild since I’ve had people tell me they don’t believe depression exists, think ADHD is just an excuse for a bad kid, that all this stuff is created for the pharmaceutical industry. Some people don’t necessarily have bad intentions, but that crap just makes things harder for people to talk about and get help for.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I hate when laypeople try to tell me that I do not have all I have been diagnosed with. Even if there are cases of bipolar misdiagnosis, I think once an actual psychiatrist gets their hands on something, that should be considered that. It doesn’t mean it isn’t still very real and really affects people. Like Celiac or ADHD. A few poor diagnoses does not negate the entire disease, and you know what you know about you. Your health is your own business. People can be so rude,.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I get when people want to talk about it for whatever reason. Maybe they are curious. But to push it that hard and tell you that you don’t have it. That is just…beyond what a reasonable person should push things. I don’t get it. Ughh.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Exactly Bipolar/depression/anxiety are an “invisible” disease, just cause we need medicines like people with diabetes but no one see us check our blood or stick ourselves with insulin. I had PPD when I had my son, and my sister in law told me to just pray and read my bible, ok yes that helps but it’s not that easy, then 2 years ago I was admitted to physic ward and they diagnosed me with bi polar among other diagnosises I came home with like 8-10 pills. Yeah, and one my psychiatrist said I’ll be on the rest of my life “it’s my insulin” and I also have it inheritated in my family. People ask how I feel ” I say I have my up and down days” we literally are on an emotional roller coaster.
    I’m going to blog about it soon, I heard on the radio 5 ways in 5 days to cure depression! I’m here for ya mama!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, what a rude person! If he’s not a doctor or have any sort of training, then he shouldn’t be diagnosing or re-diagnosing you. I’m so sorry he was a persistent jerk about it.

    “Oh. I see you have a cut on your finger. I read about it on WebMD. You definitely have cancer.”
    “No, it’s just a cut.”
    “Nope, definitely cancer. My cousin had a cut on his finger. He got cancer.”
    “It’s a cut.”
    “Probably need to get check for cancer.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I need to take you around with me and take care of my throat punching 😀

      It’s rare that I say much when stuff like that (or anything that would be kinda confrontational) comes up, which is something my therapist wants me to change lol

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh Jesus, I’m frustrated for you. Like, why the fuck do I have to convince you anything?
    I have a nurse friend who, bless her heart, just thinks she’s got an insight that I don’t, and that there’s something I should do about it. “Call your doctor and get your thyroid tested.” Who just up and does that? “You should call your OB and check your couscous count, because I bet you that caused your seizure during your c-section.” Okay, no. I didn’t have a seizure, my OB wasn’t worried and why do you have to tell me this shit in FRONT OF PEOPLE???
    At first I took her seriously, and even still, I think she’s coming from a place of goodness. Or, perhaps a place of wanting to feel more powerful in her new job as a SAHM, and I get that, but lay off.
    Ugh. People suck sometimes. Even the ones we love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh lord, that would be tough to deal with! If she’s concerned, I’d think a simple “Maybe you should talk to your doc” would suffice. Some people just don’t know when they’re overstepping their boundaries. Or don’t care.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You know, this got me all riled up.
    One, someone told me the other day about the crazy guy on his company page. The crazy guy was probably bipolar, he said. I know I looked aghast. Then he asked something about whether I’d ever dealt with anyone who had a mental illness. I said yes, and that I had a mental illness. He said, I quote, “A real mental illness.”
    Also, I’m not impressed with the assholes who claim that anxiety and depression and auto-immunes are on-call illnesses for when people don’t wanna do stuff. These people who are all, “If you’re really having a panic attack, you can’t post about it on FB.” I don’t, but I sure could. It’s interesting how many people have their own diagnostic tools for things they know nothin about. Bless their tiny hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ugh. Ultimately well meaning but absolutely infuriating people are the worst. It’s like saying, “Well by your logic then I just don’t think you’re a real person. My cousin is a nurse and she knows a guy who has brown hair, green eyes, owns a home and has a retirement fund – and you just don’t look like that person at all so I don’t think you’re a real person.”

    So much of what people can’t see (and it isn’t their business) makes up the criteria of our illnesses. Being honest with ourselves and our doctors isn’t easy but it’s necessary to get the best treatment outcome. Quite frankly, I don’t owe the world a show of my crazy because I work really hard to make sure that’s not the space where I am at. The things I experienced that got me that diagnosis are not things I want to revisit. Also, I am not my diagnosis. It is not my excuse or my sense of self.

    Bradley summed up my general comment to outsiders – I’m doing the best that I can just like everyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • After thinking about it some more, I wonder why anyone would expect to see my crazy stuff, anyway. If you aren’t family and don’t live with me, it wouldn’t make sense that I’d go out and be around people when I’m feeling erratic anyway. He, like most people, have no understanding of what bipolar disorder really is.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yikes, what a tricky conversation to get stuck in. I think the words “My cousin doesn’t take anything” says it all – maybe they should see a doctor and get some meds if it gets that bad.
    I’m the same with alcoholism – my bosses, close family and a few close friends know. I don’t go around telling people randomly.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I would be so ticked off if someone said that to me! You never know what a person’s gone through or is going through, especially with Bipolar disorder. An outsider looking in just can’t see everything. With a physical illness – you can see numbers and symptoms but with Bipolar, you can’t see feelings. You may see reactions but some people hide it well or have it under control with medication(s). Sounds like you do, which is great. Still, your friend shouldn’t have pressed you like that and I’m so glad you stood up for yourself by pointing out that he’s not qualified to make that kind of suggestion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! Another friend one discarded the idea that LM could have ADHD because he isn’t “wild.” It pains me that people have some sort of idea what these invisible illnesses/disorders are and expect it to be the same for everyone. So dumb.

      Liked by 1 person

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