I have Bipolar Disorder NOS. I don’t go shouting it from the roof tops but I don’t try to hide it either. I am very upfront about my disorder. I am a psychiatric nurse. I had worked at the same hospital for 6 years and all my coworkers knew. They never treated me any different. So when I went for an interview at another hospital I thought nothing of it. I was interviewing for my dream job at a child and adolescent psychiatric hospital. The chief nursing officer asked me if I was able to see past the diagnosis and see these kids as kids. I told her yes, that I had Bipolar Disorder and understood that people are not their diagnosis. I ended up with the job. I was talking with a fellow nurse one day about my struggles with Bipolar Disorder. The same chief nursing officer pulled me aside later and asked me not to talk to others about it. When I asked “why?”…. I was told that people may look at me different if they knew and she was trying to protect me.
What!?!? I was working in a psychiatric hospital where we were told to look past the diagnosis and see the kids but I was supposed to hide my diagnosis. I told her thanks for “trying to protect me” but that if I had to hide my diagnosis from my fellow co-workers at a psychiatric hospital because they might treat me differently then they needed to take a hard look at the people they hire to work with the kids. We want to teach our patients that they shouldn’t be ashamed of their illness but I have to be cautious so that I am not looked at differently. Talk about being hypercritical and perpetuating stigma! I thought for sure I was about to be disciplined for speaking to her that way. She apologized and told me thanks for my honesty. I still work there. Most of my co-workers know and treat me no differently then they did before. I won’t ever hide my diagnosis to make other people treat me the same and my hope is that one day no one will feel that they have to.