Coming Out of the Bipolar Closet

My immediate family is aware of my bipolar diagnosis, I mean, how could they not know? They’ve lived with me and all my explosive outbursts, my teary depression, my ambitious hypomania. But my entire family is not aware. It’s not that I fear rejection, mostly it stems from not really seeing them as much, so I don’t feel as close to them as I’d like. But on Saturday, I went ahead and started a conversation with my beautiful and talented cousin, who lives in another state. She had been writing a blog and stopped because she wasn’t really getting the response she hoped for. I told her she should keep going, to push a little more and then came clean about writing this blog, and about having bipolar, as well.

She handled it as amazingly as I knew she would. She is much younger than me, but she carries herself with such grace and integrity, you would think she was much older. We had a good conversation about bipolar, about writing and about living life the way you want to, without worrying what other people think. I was flattered when she told me she thought I was strong and brave for battling bipolar. But later on, after we had both said our goodbyes, I wondered if I really was brave. I often feel like a cop out for writing anonymously, when there are so many other amazing bipolar writers who are open about their identity. I don’t know that I’ll be revealing my “real” identity anytime soon, but it sure felt good to have that conversation with my cousin. It’s made me think about “coming out” to my entire family, which I think may happen sooner than I ever thought it would.

Revealing my bipolar disorder to my cousin was incredibly freeing and it’s so great that conversations about mental health don’t have to be shameful or forced. I feel reignited as far as advocacy goes, as well.

Readers, have you had good or bad experiences when revealing your diagnosis? Please share your story in the comments!


4 thoughts on “Coming Out of the Bipolar Closet

  1. As you know, I write as myself, but the choice to be open or to be private is very much an individual decision, for ultimately, your health is your business. Our individual natures differ. Some people are simply more private, some more open. One is not necessarily better or worse. Each comes with benefits and risks.

  2. I am SO proud of you for starting that conversation with your cousin the other day about your having bipolar & your blog. I’m happy the experience was much better than you expected! That was fantastic that you encouraged her to keep going with her blog too; it takes time & energy (as you and I both know) for our blogs to gain readers and comments.

    Back to discussing your diagnosis with your cousin….It takes so much strength to do that! Give yourself a LOT of credit. If/when you decide to share that you bipolar with your entire family, I hope it goes just as well as it did with her.

    I’ve had mostly good experiences revealing my diagnosis to strangers – my whole family already knows about it!

    Now I’m off to drink an iced Marley Coffee now in your honor. Even though it’s kind of cold here, I crave it anyway.

    Take care and have a great day – you are AWESOME!

  3. I am so happy for you! I blog as myself, and my family reads and shares my blog. However, at Thanksgiving it somehow came up and I realized that a few of my extended family members had no idea I struggled with bipolar. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being anonymous, though. You still fight stigma and educate others 🙂

  4. I’m catching your post a little late, but I have to say that I think it’s totally great that you were able to initiate the conversation with your cousin. And you were kind enough to comment on my blog when I expressed similar concerns about feeling as if blogging anonymously is a cop out. But as the previous commenter explains, I’m starting to realize that what matter is if you’re able to reach people. So thrilled to be following your blog!

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