Whilst in work today I overheard a conversation that frankly pissed me off massively.
The discussion was between two of the women I sit next to, about another colleague, someone I consider a friend.
Our colleague, my friend, has been off of work for a couple of weeks due to her bipolar disorder. I must point out that only certain members of our management team and I know that my friend is bipolar. Today was the first day that she had managed to make it into work for several days, however, I think it was too much for her because by lunch time she had gone home.
When the women I sit next to realised that my friend had gone home again, this sparked a rather ignorant and insensitive conversation between them both, that I caught the last few minutes of.
They were bitching and making assumptions about why my friend had been off work and had gone home again. Some of these comments were very insensitive, to the point they were calling her a waste of breath and space!! This really hit a nerve with me, not only because I am bipolar and I know how hard it must have been for my friend to have even thought about coming into work today, but because she is my friend and they do not know her at all.
What I should have done is stick up for my friend and bring these women down a peg or 2, god knows I had a massive urge to do so. However I didn’t. I didn’t want to cause a scene for my friend for when she feels strong enough to return to work again. It would have made it more difficult for her.
What I would like to do though is say that it is this exact narrow-mindedness, these exact types of people who go around making assumptions about others lives when they know absolutely nothing about them, that make it harder for those of us who have mental illnesses to talk about it all openly and comfortably! Not only that, if my friend had heard such comments it would have massively hinder her progress and set her back several steps.
People really shouldn’t make assumptions.
Do you ever just want to scream at the top of your lungs, but every time you open your mouth no sound comes out?
Ever want to just get up and walk out of a room because you feel so uncomfy you’d rather be at home in your bed hiding away from the world?
Most days are like that for me.
Being bipolar can be crippling, mentally and psychically. Yet to the outside world I’m a perfectly functioning and ‘happy’ soul. If you told most of the people that I work with or see on a daily basis, that I am bipolar I would bet that ALL of them would be surprised to know this. Not even my parents know that I am bi-polar.
There are a few, select people in this world that know about my illness. People I’ve let behind some of the many brick walls that I’ve built up since the start. There is only one person who knows the full extent of my broken brain and only one person who can help pick me up out of my holes.
Why have I chosen not to tell all of my friends and family about my illness? They are my family and friends after all. Unfortunately there is still a huge taboo around mental illness. As soon as you mention the big ‘M’ word people look at you differently. They feel sorry for you and treat you differently. I don’t want sympathy, that’s exactly what I don’t want or need. I don’t want people treating me like broken glass. I am still me. I’ll admit that whilst learning how to cope with being bipolar I was very unstable, but this wasn’t something the outside world ever saw. Maybe that’s partly why my brain broke in the first place, but that’s for another blog post.
As hard as it is to get out of bed most days, to leave the house and do even simple things like go to the local supermarket or to go to work, I push myself over those hurdles everyday and no one on the outside is any the wiser. I wear my ‘game face’, face the world with a smile and do my job to a very high standard. Why? Because I need to. Without making myself do the things I dread every day, without the routine of work, I would fall apart. I would fall into a hole that I would find it hard to get out of. As much as I hate the mere thought of being in work, pretending that I’m hunky dory and talking to people, despite the constant urge to want to run home to my bed, it helps keep me and my brain occupied. It helps prevent my brain from trawling up all those demons I spend all my time keeping in a locked box in the deep depths of my mind.