Most of you know me pretty well by now, I’m generally not ashamed of my mental illnesses, I could talk about them all day long on the internet. I’ll tell you anything that you want to know. Just ask me and I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you about the time I cried uncontrollably in a heap on my bathroom floor or the time that I got so manic I ate nothing but potato soup for a month. I’ll tell you about the time that I thought about jumping off a bridge for fun and the time that I thought about jumping off that same bridge to kill myself. But the other day I found myself in a situation that I hadn’t found myself in before.
I was out for lunch with my gran and someone that I hadn’t met before and while my gran was ordering our food this new person asked me what I did for a living. I considered this for a minute before telling her that I was on disability. I didn’t tell her what for. You see for the first time I found myself ashamed to be on disability for a mental illness. I found myself fearful of being judged. What would they think of me? Would they think that I was just some lazy person sponging off the government? Would they think that my illness wasn’t real? Luckily the conversation didn’t go any further. But it weighed on my mind.
In that moment I was ashamed. I never had been before because I hadn’t ever really been put in that situation before. Not unwilfully anyway. I talk to a lot of people about my disability and about being on disability. It made me question myself, why should I be ashamed? I have an illness right? A chronic illness? Yes, I do. So why was it so hard for me to say it? Because it’s invisible. You can’t see it. You can’t grasp what you cannot see. I was so afraid of being judged for something which cannot be seen, by a stranger.
I thought about it a lot when I got home. I should have just said it, ‘I’m on disability, I have Bipolar Disorder’. I’m all about breaking down stigma but it just didn’t come out. Next time though, next time somebody asks me what I do I’ll tell them, ‘I’m on disability, I have Bipolar Disorder’. And if they don’t like it they can shove it.