Stigma over mental illness freakin' sucks!
I'm not bipolar, but I have severe OCD, mild Asperger's, panic attacks caused by my OCD and specific phobias, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and cyclothymia, and I can't tell you how few people believe me! I just was officially diagnosed with OCD in October of 2004, so I only told a few of my good friends in high school. However, now that I'm in college, I don't know these people, I don't connect with any of them because they don't share my passion for learning, so I'm, like, "screw it", and I proceed to tell all of my "friends" (read "acquaintances") about my OCD. It just really pisses me off that so few of them take it seriously, especially this one "friend" I have, who I now just hang around with because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings...
He and I were both in physiological psychology together last semester, a class that deals with the neurobiological causes of everything that happens in the nervous system, including mental illness. So, when I got to know him well enough and we were "friends", I told him about my OCD, also because I thought he'd of all people believe me because he's a neuroscience major like me, with a basis in biology. Anyway, one night he comes to my room so we can study physio, and I mention something about how my OCD was really bad that day. I never told him all of the details about my OCD (I tell VERY few people), just that I have it, because I'm not ashamed. So, he just nods his head and looks away. I say, "Admit it- you don't really think I have it, do you?" He hesitates, and I merely say, "Tell me the truth. I'm used to it." His reply was, "Yeah, I'm a little skeptical..."
I've been uncomfortable around him ever since. It just kills me that all of these people think that I assume I have all of these diagnoses because I read about them on the Internet, and that all I have is overexaggeration of typical anxiety present in a college student. Wrong. Do you want me to show you the bottles upon bottles of psychiatric medications on my dresser? Will that make you believe me, even though I know I've already told you I take medication? This is the way it is with practically everyone here: I merely tell them I have the diagnosis, but once I sense their disbelief, I don't say anything more; if they seem to understand, I tell them more personal things. I just feel really awkward whenever one of these non-believers asks me if I want to go somewhere or study or something, and I say, "Sorry. I have CBT at 1 o'clock." No response. Jerks...Do I tell them what I'm doing at CBT? No- just that I have therapy. And I have the added bonus when these "friends" want me to go do something with them- I don't do well around people, so why can't you just leave me alone? I'll come see you when I'm ready. Don't keep bugging me while I'm holed up in my room because of being paralyzed from panic attacks! Go away! As it says in the No Doubt song "Platinum Blonde Life": "I'm closin' all the curtains, so don't you even bother." Exactly. I don't want to be around anybody right now, especially people that don't understand. All-in-all, stigma is awful. I can't get over how, even today, after the new age of neuropsychiatry, that people still don't believe that mental illness is a REAL illness! They don't realize how much it impairs the sufferer.
I'm so sick of it...I feel so misunderstood by everyone- just leave me be to talk with my only true friends here: my professors. Leave me be to throw myself into my homework and passion for learning, an Asperger's trait none of you "normal" people possibly experience. That's why I come on these boards so often, so I can talk to people who actually understand what it's like to live with a mental illness and the stigma that inevitably accompanies it. Thank you for posting this, DMIXEDUP; it's nice to vent to someone else who feels the same way. It seems that I have the opposite situation- I can't get people to read my clues that I'm having a bad day and they keep bothering me because I should just "get over it"...God bless!