My name is Jennifer. I am intelligent, talented, attractive, generous compassionate and funny….and I am bi-polar. I had always hoped those good qualities would outweigh the actions, reactions and outrageous behavior that my disorder caused but could never seem to manage to accomplish it. All my life I have lived with the shame of my actions and words and the strange way my brain seemed to work..and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t make my relationships last and why friends and family were always turning their backs on me when I always thought I had my heart in the right place. I have only had a support system of 2 people in my whole life that cared enough to help me figure out why I was the way I was and be tolerant with me through deep depressions, manic outbursts, immature behavior and thoughts of suicide. That would be my mother and my brother. I am unmedicated because I have no insurance so coping with this disorder for the last 30 years has been so difficult that I have had thoughts of giving up numerous times. I have spent my entire life apologizing after family functions, dinners with friends, inappropriate behavior around strangers etc…all I have ever felt is shame.
The lowest point in my life was probably when a family member decided they had had enough of this “behavior” over the years and wrote a 4 page letter to the remaining members of my family shaming me for everything they didn’t approve of over the last 30 years and calling me out for things I do not even recall doing. People do not realize that when you suffer from bi-polar disorder that things like that can send you into a very dark place because of the shame you already feel from trying to “fix yourself” and it can lead you into drugs, alcohol, outrageous behavior and more times than not, suicide. Immediately your mind goes to “well if everyone thinks I am such a horrible person then they would all be better off if they never had to deal with me anymore.” It made it worse after the letter was sent and no one came to my aide or supported me. Being judged for something you have no control over seems to be a losing battle.
I have a grown son and the relationship with him is rocky at best but not only do I want to get a grip on my disorder for myself, I want to for him. I want to be the mother he deserves. You have to just keep telling yourself there is hope. When I logged onto this site I felt it for the first time in my life. Immediately I found a support group that is 7 miles from me when I logged on. I cannot thank you enough for making this available and raising awareness to help good people like me battle the stigma of bi-polar disorder. And I hope friends and family that will read this one day will stop judging me and start supporting me instead. This is my “coming out.” My name is Jennifer, and I am bi-polar, and no longer ashamed to say so.