My immediate family is aware of my bipolar diagnosis, I mean, how could they not know? They’ve lived with me and all my explosive outbursts, my teary depression, my ambitious hypomania. But my entire family is not aware. It’s not that I fear rejection, mostly it stems from not really seeing them as much, so I don’t feel as close to them as I’d like. But on Saturday, I went ahead and started a conversation with my beautiful and talented cousin, who lives in another state. She had been writing a blog and stopped because she wasn’t really getting the response she hoped for. I told her she should keep going, to push a little more and then came clean about writing this blog, and about having bipolar, as well.
She handled it as amazingly as I knew she would. She is much younger than me, but she carries herself with such grace and integrity, you would think she was much older. We had a good conversation about bipolar, about writing and about living life the way you want to, without worrying what other people think. I was flattered when she told me she thought I was strong and brave for battling bipolar. But later on, after we had both said our goodbyes, I wondered if I really was brave. I often feel like a cop out for writing anonymously, when there are so many other amazing bipolar writers who are open about their identity. I don’t know that I’ll be revealing my “real” identity anytime soon, but it sure felt good to have that conversation with my cousin. It’s made me think about “coming out” to my entire family, which I think may happen sooner than I ever thought it would.
Revealing my bipolar disorder to my cousin was incredibly freeing and it’s so great that conversations about mental health don’t have to be shameful or forced. I feel reignited as far as advocacy goes, as well.
Readers, have you had good or bad experiences when revealing your diagnosis? Please share your story in the comments!