A friend posed an interesting question to me the other day. He wanted to know if I was ashamed of him.
It is an fascinating thing to have one of your best friends ask you. The obvious answer is a simple ‘no’, but I wanted to know why he was asking. What made him wonder? What made him worry?
What more, it made me wonder if he was ashamed of me.
Shame is a common emotion when you are different. I was going to say bipolar there, which is what I meant, but it isn’t limited to that. I have felt shame at more things in my life than simply being bipolar. And of all the things making me ashamed right now, bipolar is near the bottom of the list.
It is not a stretch to imagine that some of my friends or my family are ashamed of me because I am bipolar, or because I take medication, or because I have been hospitalized, or because I have attempted suicide. No one has ever really treated me in that way, so it is hard to say, but I think it is a reasonable assumption.
One of the biggest tip-offs to me is that practically no one has ever mentioned the fact that I am bipolar to my face. Almost no one has mentioned this blog, even avid readers, to my face. It is kind of weird to me. But maybe strangest of all, of the people that have spoken to me about my blog have never mentioned or asked about me being bipolar. Why?
It isn’t that I expect this type of reaction: “omg you are bipolar? How do you survive? It must be so hard!”. I don’t want that, I don’t care to have that conversation. But it does surprise me that no one has ever just mentioned it, or made a joke about it, or brought it up somehow, even inquisitively. I think if I had a friend that has a rare disease that is pretty weird I would be interested enough to ask him/her about it, especially if I knew it was blogged about and clearly an open topic to discuss.
What is even weirder is that Facebook messages, emails and texts have come my way since making this website that have led to deep conversations about bipolar/ depression/ mental health/ suicide. So I know people want to talk to me about it, but can’t seem to mention it to my face.
But what is that? Is it shame? Is it embarrassment? Of what? I can’t wrap my head around this.
I also imagine that there is another group of people who do not ask, and do not want to ask, and don’t want me to put it out there. I am like the awkward uncle at the cook out, or the weird friend who posts inappropriate stuff on Facebook. They don’t want to know about it, they don’t understand why anyone would want to know about it, and they don’t want me to share it. I do wish these people would avail themselves to me so I could just remove them from my life quickly and painlessly.
Most people though, they just sit in silence leaving me to guess what their stance is on my condition and my public display of it.
I suppose like my friend I wonder if they are ashamed and most would simply reply “no” and it would be that simple. Why have I built it up in my mind? Why do I care even if they are? It doesn’t really change anything about my life, but I still want to confront it.
It is probably just to feed the self-hatred stored inside myself. It normally likes to rear an ugly head when depression strikes, but maybe this topic is bringing it out in me as well.