Note: Look for the red writing if you want to just skip to actual letter.
I have often wondered if people distance themselves from me when they find out I have bipolar disorder and/or have a manic episode. I have evaluated this and realize that sometimes it is me pushing them away because of my own embarrassment.
However, for the most part, I have lost many friends and even family because it was their choice to leave and decide they did not want to associate with me.
I have come to the conclusion that the majority of the time it was their choice. They no longer wanted to be near me because people might think that they have the same illness or that they accept me and my behavior.
Well, I am going to stop analyzing those people and giving them the power to hurt or upset me and plan to move on. They can distance themselves from me, but I will no longer take it personally. I was born this way and if they can’t accept me like they would like a friend who is missing a limb, blind, has diabetes or a heart problem, etc. then then good riddance.
I have lost close friends due to my illness . I have lost relatives I spent a lot of time growing up with and it was not until I was diagnosed that things changed. I’ve had cousins who stopped talking to me because they think I am odd or wouldn’t say hello to me at school because of who I am. I’ve reached out to people during times when I am not manic or depressed (the times I am “normal”) and have been ignored, have not been recognized, and no gratitude was shown during the time or afterwards. I didn’t do it for the recognition, but in many cases I think it is just because they wanted to avoid me and that is why they don’t thank me or recognize that I am actually a human who does nice things for them and others. Also,they don’t want me to get the impression that it is okay to associate with them.
I even have people in my immediate family who does not want any of her friends or co-workers to know I have a mental illness. This person even evaluates my behavior before I see her friends to make sure I won’t embarrass her.
Teachers who my mom told I was struggling showed no compassion and understanding. I have had fellow co-workers who distanced themselves from me once they knew. They did not even suspect I had a mental illness until I told them. I decided to tell a few employers and that turned out to be a mistake in every case except for one. It disgusts me that even politicians, actors, athletes and the media totally ignored me and don’t respond to my pleas. I know other advocates who have been treated the same way. Our voices are just not being heard by people who could do something.
One thing in particular I really despise is that the he hospital staff, the CEOs of hospitals, the insurance companies, and the patient’s relations centers of psychiatric hospitals where I have been admitted get away with totally ignoring me . This is most likely because they dismiss what I have to say and would be embarrassed by their co-workers if they listened to me and tried to change things. I even have witnessed agencies who work with people with mental illnesses and are funded by the state totally disregard their clients Even doctors and therapists are hesitant to try and help their patients and listen to their stories of how they have been treated. This is most likely because they don’t want others to think that they think we are anything but crazy.
Letters, emails, texts, phone calls, tweets and FB messages are almost always ignored if they mention anything about mental illness. If they don’t mention mental illness,they are almost always at least recognized and usually even responded to. I have not only observed this, but have tested it and know it is true. This just disgusts me. Pretty much the only time that mental illness is mentioned or responded to is after a tragedy and then it is represented in an incorrect way.
It may be political correctness to not confront it and something that people don’t want to talk about, but it does need to be dealt with head on. Ignoring it is not the answer and it’s going to continue to make things worse.
By not responding to me or other advocates and people with mental illnesses is a slap in the face. It is saying we don’t matter. It is saying that we are less than a normal person. It is showing that not much is being done with the stigma or educating others about the illnesses or where to go if they or someone they know are in crisis.
We can say that things have gotten better, but things need to get a lot better. Society is doing better with research, educating others, passing laws, figuring out ways to not have jails be revolving doors, and not having enough hospital beds. However, the thing that bothers me the most is that people with mental illnesses are mistreated and do not get the respect they deserve.
Please note: There are people who do care and are making a difference. I know that there are people even in my only family who are not embarrassed by me. In fact they have said they admire me for dealing with my illness.. However, It has just been my experience that the majority of the people won’t touch people with a mental illness with a ten foot pole.
I don’t usually swear or tell people off. I usually try and be mostly politically correct, respectful, and don’t want recognition. I usually work in the background and try to use a soft tone to make a point. I try to be reasonable and usually back up things with fact. I almost always use correct grammar and spelling. I try not to let my own emotions get the best of me and analyze what I say because I don’t want my points to be dismissed because I, as a mentally ill person, don’t deserve to be heard and frankly my opinions don’t matter. Even if I can support things by fact and make every effort to not give people a reason to dismiss what I am saying, it does not seem to matter.
Enough is enough. In this blog I am going to speak up with a loud voice and from my heart. I do not intend to hold back or care about what people think or how they judge me for what I am saying. I don’t care if they dismiss what I say because my points are actually things that they should hear.
The title of this blog is to write a letter so here it is. I will be frank, speaking from my heart and confront things in ways that are different for me. However, I think it needs to be said and it is a healthy thing for me to do and maybe inspire others to realize that they should not be embarrassed by who they are.
TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE EMBARRASSED BY ME:
You might be embarrassed by me, but you should really be embarrassed by yourself. You have judged me, steered away from me, chosen not to love me, pushed me away when I needed you most, ridiculed me, bullied me, avoided me at all costs and that is something that is wrong and you should not only be embarrassed and ashamed, but feel less than a human being.
You are an idiot because you have not educated yourself about my illness, taken the time to realize what you do or don’t do hurts me more than you will ever know. You have not learned that mental illness affects 1 in 4 people and you really should take some time to study it because either you or someone you know will have a mental illness. If that happens, then what are you going to do? Leave them? Hate yourself and/or judge yourself? Realize stigma is worse than you thought, realize that people with mental illnesses are actually human beings who deserve patience, love, and do have feelings?
I would never wish a mental illness on anyone. However, if you are unlucky enough to have one, I hope that you come to your senses and realize that how you have treated me is wrong- simply wrong.
In short, you might be embarrassed by me, but I am more embarrassed by being associated with you. You are uneducated, a bully, an uncaring, unkind person who needs to learn more about mental illness. You should find out what to do if you suspect you or a friend has a mental illness, and evaluate if you contribute to the stigma. You could join all the other people who are embarrassed by me and others with a mental illness or you can start to make a difference and help to erase the stigma, the poor conditions we face, educate yourself, help others in need, and rally to get better treatment for those with an illness that they were born with.