When Life Is Difficult And Stigma Makes It Worse

Ready. Set. Sail!

In my mind, the worst part of having bipolar disorder is the sense that you can’t accomplish anything. It’s that awful feeling when you make all these wonderful goals and tell yourself that you are going to be productive only to have anxiety and depression swallow you whole. Then you realize the things you set out to do are too overwhelming and scary and you retreat back into Fort Blankie and call yourself a loser and a failure.

And….the cherry on top of the cake is when a friend tells you that you HAVE to do something.

I’m in an argument with a close friend right now. Let’s call her Jan. Jan’s small business is booming and I agreed to take on some responsibilities and help her out. I figured when I got laid off that I needed something to do to keep my mind occupied and help me readjust to the real world. It worked out great when I was stable/manic. Now, unfortunately, I’m having trouble keeping my volunteer commitments. In fact, it’s been about a month since I’ve even seen her and have had to cancel several times.

Now don’t get me wrong, running a business is hard. But I volunteered to help her and I was hoping that she would forgive me for not meeting her expectations. She even knows about my bipolar and the depression and the struggles. However, as a normie, she doesn’t have a clue as to how hard it is to have a mental illness. Her suggestions are the classic, “Cheer up!”, “I know it’s difficult but you can pull through!”, “Smile! You’ll feel better!”, “Sorry you’re feeling sad today but look at the bright side,” and the like. She is a bubbly happy-go-lucky naive giggly person. I met her through a friend of a friend. And I like her. I was hoping being around her I would catch her enthusiasm. But I feel like I’m not good enough anymore.

She asked me to come to our mutual friend’s party in honor of a unique milestone in that person’s life. I said that I would do my very best to be there. Her response cut me like a dagger,

“Jess!!! You MUST be there! You HAVE to be there!!! It won’t be the same without you there!!! Lady, come on…just commit to being there!”

Classic stigma. “Just get over it and show up! It doesn’t matter if you’re too anxious or depressed. I want you to put on a smile and hide your pain because it makes people uncomfortable. We are counting on you…no pressure!”

Now I feel like a bad friend if I can’t get out of bed and show up. Not only show up, she expects me to smile and laugh and be chipper and pretend I’m not dying inside. Bipolar isn’t that simple. There is no way I can guarantee if I’ll be able to function Wednesday. SO the pressure is on me to shake it off and put a smile on and be there for my friend.

And I DO want to be there. Desperately!! But I’ve been having major anxiety doing anything other than basic tasks. It takes all my effort to motivate myself to shower. I worked out today but it took like 3 hours to get myself motivated enough to get my workout clothes on. Heck! I even made dinner yesterday. All in all I felt really accomplished until I talked to her. She made me feel a level lower than her.

 

This is the reason we fight stigma. This is the reason why the world needs to be educated on mental illness. Because words like these damage us!

They make us feel weak. They make us feel like we aren’t strong enough or brave enough. They make us feel inferior.

You wouldn’t pressure someone with a broken leg to be your partner at a dance competition. So why would you pressure someone with severe agoraphobia to go to a party full of happy smiling people and expect them to be cheerful and outgoing?

It’s not fair. It’s not nice. It’s downright inconsiderate.

Let me tell you something: I’ll go Wednesday if I can. Period. I’m not going to pressure myself into an optional situation to pretend to be happy when all the while I feel like retreating into a corner and crying my eyes out. I’m not going to risk a panic attack to put myself in an uncomfortable position. Sometimes bipolar gets in the way.

This doesn’t mean that I just will give up every time I’m anxious or depressed. It means I’m going to accept my limits and do things to take care of myself first and foremost. I’ll do my best and that will be good enough. If she doesn’t think so, that’s on her.

I’m not going to let mental health stigma dictate my happiness.


21 thoughts on “When Life Is Difficult And Stigma Makes It Worse

  1. I completely understand how you feel, and I support you 1000% whether you go to your friend’s special celebration or not!

    Go super-easy on yourself, lovely one.

    This part you wrote is perfect, Jess – just perfect:

    “This doesn’t mean that I just will give up every time I’m anxious or depressed. It means I’m going to accept my limits and do things to take care of myself first and foremost. I’ll do my best and that will be good enough. If she doesn’t think so, that’s on her.”

    Follow your own wisdom!!!!
    I’m going to follow your wisdom too.
    XOXOX Love you!!!!!!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m glad you understand! Sometimes bipolar just gets in the way and you need to accept that. My friend means well but I’m not going to let her pressure me into doing something I’m not entirely comfortable with. I’ll follow my own wisdom and take care of myself.

      Thanks my lovely Dy😚💙💚💛💜

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Man I’ve been there so many times in my life, you want to go and you don’t want to go at the same time because you just can’t put on the happy face. Dyane said it best, you stated it best and they will have to get over themselves if you don’t make it.Love you sweet lady!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah crap, I’m sorry you’re running into all this. I actually just cancelled on doing something I want to do for tomorrow night. The number of people going is close and I don’t want to be the one that makes it affordable to do and then have to cancel.
    I was talking to my therapist about just this thing this morning and it’s really hard if the people in your life don’t get on board with what is happening to you.
    xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Half of me says I should just suck it up and the other half actually wants to do things to make me happy. So it’s a crazy battle and I hope I can put my own happiness first. I know you understand. Thanks for reaching out. Hope you’re doing well as well. Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jess, I love this post. Its so uncanny. I experienced something similar just this morning and was going to do a post on it – but you beat me to it 🙂 I’m tired of being criticised and subjectively judged by people who don’t know their ass from their asshole. My feeling is if you don’t understand or don’t know what to say – all that’s needed is a kind… I can’t imagine what is must be like for you. SOME VALIDATION PLEASE. Our feelings are not invisible vapours wafting around in space. They are meaty and heavy and abundant. Have some goddamn respect! And if you don’t understand, and you’re part of our world then show some decency and fucking educate yourself, bunch of ignorant fools these ordinary folk. Phew! Ok, got that off my chest. Thanks Jess! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha. Yeah it feels good to rant about people who just do the get it. I could do a whole post on just that! It’s annoying though. They try to pressure us when they have absolutely no idea what we go through. We need to keep the mental health conversation going. That’s the only way people will eventually understand.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jess is s tough cookie..
    I said something careless last week, something stupid and I feared for my manhood. She’d track me down and cut if it off.!!
    This week she explains the realities of Bipolar.
    A very open candid Jess laid bare post.
    Sometimes you cannot function. A shower can be a fucking huge achievement. Giggly smiley people often underestimate the difficulty in 1 foot in the shower.
    I don’t like to think of Jess under pressure, as she is such a kind spirit
    I further detest stigma. The hint is its in my Twitter and Instagram handle / name, so screw stigma Jess, you will not be dictated too. I know that!
    Look after number 1. That’s you kid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha…your manhood is safe for now. I wasn’t going to do anything. I was just upset. But you better watch out!!😉

      Thanks for the pep talk BTW. I feel like things can be so hard and I want to make sure I’m taking care of myself first. Taking care of No. 1!!

      Thanks for believing in me Aidan. I get so happy when I see your comments. You’re my number 1 Irish fan and I’m your number 1 American fan.☺👆

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Its hard for people without mental illness to understand and it’s very exhausting to have to explain what we are going through. Especially when the response is like “Oh, just smile! It’ll be fun.” I understand you and you are supported!

    Liked by 1 person

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