I have to tell you, there is still a stigma for bipolar. Depression has gotten a little better in the public arena, but bipolor still seems to be scary to the general public. When I was first getting diagnosed with depression (6 months ago) my employer was great about it. She supported me getting help and taking time off to get onto my feet again. When my diagnosis was changed (4 weeks ago) and I took more time off to get onto the meds, she wasn't even sure I should be in the job I have with a "condition like that". She was worried that my job may be too stressfull for someone with a mental disorder.
I'm still here.
I had my own stigma for Bipolar. I fought the diagnosis for 2 visits to my pdoc. I would not let him prescribe the meds untill the antidepressents were driving me truly insane and I didn't care anymore. He could have said shock therepy and I would have gone for it at the time.
My husband has Bipolar. (Isn't that funny? We didn't even know it when we married.) It got him kicked out of the military on a medical discharge. He couldn't be deployed on the meds, and if he can't be deployed, he can't be in the service. I didn't want to have anything that could affect my medical career later like it affected his military service.
The more that people know about it and that we are regular people, and there are more people with bipolar than they think, they might just accept us. Until then, do we tell and helpthem get used to it, or do we hide it to prevent them from thinking badly?
~~~ Olivia ~~~Moderator, BipolarDx: Bipolar 1, PTSD, Anxiety-Panic DisorderSupport HealingWell: http://www.healingwell.com/donate"Don't let your yesterday, ruin your today"
Good follow up dialouge.
Olivia of course - of course your view is accurate. I don't know if there are any wrong views of trying to examine social stigma; there are many ways of knowing and thinking. I think part of it may have to do with power (or perceived power) from those who are looking for differences in people and seeking vulnerability.
I remeber in my early 20's, the first job I interviewed for after graduate school was recended after my mandated physical and they saw my medication list. The person who interviewed me (a health care professional) pulled out a graph and said "there is a lot of loss in hospice, and I don't think you will be able to handle the depression." I'll never forget it. Although I am open about my diagnosis, I am very careful about whom I disclose it to, especially in my professional life. Some people will see it as a vulnerability or "weakness" (I don't like that word) whereas I see my coping successfully with bi-polar disease over time as a success; it is my strength.
I used to say "my diagnosis is who I am and not what I am" and went through a phase where I continually told everyone that "I am bi-polar and I am "OKAY!" I think it was part of my recovery process and how I was coping at that time. I remember referring to bi-polar as being "just like being a diabetic" (and that's still a great reference - loving frustrated wife), but I don't think society tends to stigmatize diabetics like people who are bi-polar. Maybe that will change over time. There has been more public discussion and disclosure (such as the reference about Maurice Bernard) about bi-polar in the last 20 years and I think it has helped awareness of the diagnosis.
Thanks for bringing this subject up, Ellie 1 - interesting discussion.
Oh...this one strikes a chord with me. Here is my opinion from personal experience.
Family--even those closest to us have been known to shut us out and reject us. Tell us how crazy we are, it's "all in our heads". Even family don't want to educate themselves, at least at first, some never.
Spouses/Partners--kinda the same as family. The stigma is more powerful than our suffering.
Employers--I need to control myself here. Worst on the planet. Won't even consider hiring or keeping someone on staff it they're bipolar. Not to mention all of the discrimination that goes along with it if you do manage to stay in the job. If they find out about the bipolar things will never be the same.
Health Care Pros--This is the group I have the least trouble with. If anyone is going to have a little empathy it's them. Not all, but some. Much more likely than all the other groups.
I have to say this is just my opinion. All the groups I mentioned--it can go both ways. Some will understand, some will not.
But at least we have each other. I am so thankful for that
i just read this thread. WOW!!!!! there was a discussion similar to this about 6 months (i think) ago. the more things change the more they stay the same.
remember, the last time the usa combined religion with politics we had the salem witch burnings (i know, it wasn't the usa then). i'm not accusing religion of anything. i am saying that some people read the new testament and see satan in eerything, manefesting himself in strange forms of mental illnes such as schizophrenia and bp. or, as someone else said on this thread, maybe it's a power trip for some people. i don't know its cause, i just recognise the hurt, suffering, and angst that ignorance causes.
as far as bein treaterd like a simpleton, i just got stupid funny. i was in the er and, after reading my list of meds, the nurse asked what the lithium was for. i told her bp. she then, as then started speaking very slowly and distinctly, so i started speaking to her in german. she LOOKED at me. i told her that because she was being so precice in her use of english that perhaps she wasn't a native speaker and that i was just offering her the alternative of german. she got red faced and left. the next nurse and i had no problems. i was really a c*** with that first nurse, but she p****d me off.
I edit part of your post due to breaking Forum Rule #2
2. No use of explicit, obscene or vulgar language or images and/or messages, including racist remarks.
Post Edited By Moderator (Olivie) : 7/24/2007 6:02:17 PM (GMT-6)
Post Edited By Moderator (Olivie) : 7/24/2007 6:03:12 PM (GMT-6)
it may have been yogi bera who said this:
"life is too important to be taken seriously. now baseball. . . ."
i don't want everybody to get the right - i measn WRONG - impression of me. but i once - and once only - had a dr ignore my physical ailments because of depression/bp. i was lieing on a gurney and looked her directly in the eyes. then i asked, totally deadpan, how much liability/malpractice insurance she had because if she didn't start treating me like a real patient she wouldn't have enough. it didn't solve any problems, but it made me feel better.