This will be the first post I write about my mental health diagnosis (although it certainly won’t be the last).
The truth is this is one of my darkest shadows. I have yet to shed the shame around my diagnosis, although I’m chipping away at it (one stone at a time).
I was diagnosed with BiPolar Disorder 3 years ago. Honestly, it really should have happened sooner, but I ran from the diagnosis (as if that changed the fact that I have it).
For months, I mourned over it. My therapist, always so patient and so kind, really helped me work through the shame. He would have me look him in the face and just say it aloud:
“I have BiPolar Disorder”
I said it to him, over and over again until the sting of it subsided.
After a while I began to feel more comfortable in my skin but some days, I’m still not okay with it. On those days, I can only be kind to myself and remember that this too shall pass.
I’ll have a lot to write over time about this and you’ll see the ebb and flow of my creativity as a result of my inability to stay stable. That’s just another part of me that you’ll have to accept; just as I have to accept it myself.
For now, I’ll just say this:
Never be ashamed of who or what you are. Your diagnosis is just a label to describe the inner workings of your brain. It is neither good nor bad.
Think about it as a roadmap, or just another piece of the puzzle.
How it Effects My Case
The short answer is that it shouldn’t, right? Yet I was asked over and over again about my mental health history and about my history of substance abuse. It was a finger poking an empty wound; a constant string of questions resounding throughout:
How Stable is she?
Is she reliable?
Can we trust her?
Now I get it; mental health diagnoses still carry a stigma and these agencies have been taught to protect accused abusers from the likes of us ‘crazy folk’. But let me ask you this:
Who amongst us, when subjected to lifelong abuse of any/all kinds would come out unscathed?
Why is there an expectation that the abuse wouldn’t somehow affect our entire being; body, mind, spirit?
Abuse of any kind, but especially generational and repeat abuse, crawls insides the survivor. It makes a home in the darkest recesses of our souls and if we do not deal with it; if we do not confront it, it can take any shape within us that it wants.
Addiction, Mental Health Concerns, Instability, Hypersexuality.…all symptoms of the shadows that reside within…all things that can start to heal once the admission of wrongdoing is made and the healing journey begins.
Ignoring Mental Health is the Real Disease
I often wonder how this story would have unfolded had my dad sought help with his own Mental Health. If only he had a trusted adult around him untouched by the hand of abuse; someone that he could have confided in.
Someone who would wrap him in their arms and carry him to an advocacy center. Someone who would help him find healing.
I wonder if he would have been more accepting of help as an adult had he grown up in an age without stigma around Mental Health. I wonder if he would have been an alleged abuser, if he felt safe enough to seek help.
But no, there were none of these things. How else could his alleged abusers guarantee submission but to normalize and minimize?
In these cases, shame and isolation were sure to do the trick.
As a result, we ended up with an entire generation moving into adulthood with sickness inside of them. Sickness that they were too ashamed to look at. Sickness that they had no tools to overcome.
…and now they curse us for seeking healing. They mock us for ‘being snowflakes’ and for yearning for ‘safe spaces’.
I don’t know if it’s fear or jealousy or the realization that our generation and the generations after us will be more difficult to control that drives them to this mockery…
I am proud of our generation in this regard. I see the veil between Mental Health and our youth being thinned and it gives me hope.
Hope that once we normalize healing, we will minimize abuse.
Hope that removal of stigma will minimize victim blaming.
Hope that others will not have to suffer as long as I did.
Maybe one day, we’ll be able to replace razor blades with hugs and healing…
…and in doing so, flood the future with adults who are whole, empathetic beings.
By healing ourselves, we can also heal the collective.