I was in a serious state of denial for years. That was my modus operandi when it came to coping with and dealing with my mental health issues. I would just act like it did not exist. As I am thinking back to many of the situations that I dealt with, that was my major form of coping. I would just “pretend” that the problem was not there and hope that it would go away. I was not going to face the problem head on and deal with it. That was too much. Especially something so sad and serious like a mental illness. All that I had ever known about mental health and mental illness was so sad and grim. My perception of people with mental health issues were that they were homeless, and disheveled, and they talked to themselves.
How could I admit to being that? Then I would admit to being one of them. I would admit to being “crazy”. Of course, this sounds very uncompassionate, uncaring, and downright mean. However, I was basing that off what little information that I had on the subject and the terrible stereotypes that had been perpetuated about people with mental illnesses in our society for years. My denial was propelled by fear. I looked at this “diagnosis” not as a medical condition but rather as a personal failure. This was in large part due to society’s treatment of people with disabilities and those who are “different”. They are judged so harshly and cruelly because of something that is beyond their control.
All my wonderful accomplishments would somehow be diminished and overshadowed because I have anxiety or because I have bipolar disorder. I did not want to be reduced to a label. I am so much more than a diagnosis. I am mother, a college graduate, an innovator, and an entrepreneur among other things, who just happens to have bipolar disorder and anxiety and I refuse to let these labels reduce my accomplishments or my personality. I am much more than that.
I will say this repeatedly. I can live brilliantly despite my diagnosis. I am doing it right now. This does not define me, I am refusing to let it define me any longer. There is no room in my life for denial or shame.