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Posts Tagged ‘mother’

Coming out…

In Bipolar, Uncategorized on April 18, 2011 at 1:04 am

Me

My name is Marissa Charles and I have bipolar disorder.

There. I’ve said it. After much worry and anxiety. After thinking, and rethinking, overanalysing and losing many jobs that I have yet to apply for and sending men that I have yet to date running for the hills, I, Marissa Charles, am coming out.

Hello world. I have bipolar.

Back in the bad old days – before bipolar became a sexy term tainted with celebrity – back when it was known as manic depression, it was my family secret.

My mum has manic depression. But, not only was it an unspoken reality that we didn’t really discuss in public, at home it was referred to as being “sick.” My mum would say: “When I was sick” or “before I was sick.” If she were manic or angry, it would become: “When I was mad.”

My mum was diagnosed in 1981 when I was five. So I have lived with this illness for 30 years, although I only became an official club member in the last days of my 20s. And now, five years on, I’m declaring it to the world.

Why has it taken me so long? Because deep down I know that madness scares people. It is the plight that dare not speak its name.

Tell people you have diabetes and they might say: “Oh really?” Tell them you have cancer and they may throw their arms around you and say: “I’m so sorry,” before reassuring you that cancer can be beaten and that their aunt, dad or mum beat it and survived.

But tell them you have a mental illness and…silence. Crickets chirp. They shift uncomfortably. Then, finally, they say: “I didn’t know… But you seem so…OK.” (They mean “normal” but can’t bring themselves to say it.) One fears that they start seeing you in a different way, as though you have the word “bipolar” tattooed on your forehead.

Little did they know there was someone mad walking among them. She wasn’t walking the streets with matted hair, talking to herself, smelling like garbage and wearing holey clothes. She was holding down a job, paying her bills, driving a car and well – you can say it, go on – she was, is, normal.

So, just to clarify, to make absolutely clear that I am finally stripped of all fear and shame: I, Marissa Charles, have bipolar.

And? And I’m doing just fine. Thank you.

M x

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