Bipolar and Shame - by Barb Bergman

I have wrote a few articles for Collie..about different things I have gone through with Michael. Hoping that it helped others as well as helping myself understand more about what he is dealing with, and also how to deal with feelings I have also.
I have known since the very beginning that Michael was embarrassed about his disorder. I don't think he is alone in that. I believe many who have disorders feel embarrassment and shame, among other things.
When we first found out. When I asked Michael to be tested, it was a Friday. He wouldn't get the results from the test until Monday. When he came home from the doctors he called me and I asked him.." do you have bipolar disorder?". His reply to me..exact words you have to say those words? I knew at that moment what I was in for. I knew he felt great shame in his disorder. I knew he felt that I would also find shame, embarrassment, disgust, maybe think he was crazy or insane.
Not once has those thoughts or words every came into my mind when I think about Michael or his disorder.
I think Michael is finally starting to realize that. He finally sees that I don't find it embarrassing. I have no problem what-so-ever talking to anyone about bipolar disorder. Me saying, I am in love with a man who is bipolar does not bring me shame or embarrassment.
Michael may have always known that somewhere deep inside, but I believe he needed to see for himself that nothing would change the way I feel. Nothing would make me find shame in him. I think him seeing this is also helping him with his disorder and his feelings towards it.
He still feels embarrassed about it. I have asked him several times to come to the chat room here and talk with others who are bipolar and he has of yet not done it. I'm certain at times he gets irritated with me and would love to say..just shut up Barb, I don't want to talk about this damn disorder anymore. He may want to say that, but Michael is a gentlemen and he loves me...those words will never come from his mouth. Not to me.
I don't push him to do these things to irritate him. Sometimes Michael needs that kick in the ass, so to speak. To get him to go in the right direction. He knows that and smiles back at the times he knows he may have got irritated with me and now can see why.
If I didn't push him towards things that I saw...he would just pretend they aren't happening. He wouldn't have been diagnosed with this disorder if it had not been for me. He would still be drinking today. He would not be looking towards a bright and wonderful future, but still living in the past.
Michael tried once to end his life...he thought about it again last summer. The night he thought about it, he was in Fla. and I couldn't get ahold of him. I knew something was wrong. It was a feeling that I couldn't let go of. I bet I called and texted him an easy 100 times. He may have been annoyed and even got mad and said why the hell won't she stop...but my texting him every few minutes until he finally called me back. Those things are what he held on to. It was me he continued to see when he was thinking about taking his life. The love he has for me held him from that edge. That is what stopped him.
I'm kinda jumping off track here.
Back to this shame and embarrassment. I will always fight Michael on that. I won't let him keep finding shame in himself that just shouldn't be there.
I asked him if he had high blood pressure would he feel the same and he said no because...if you say to someone I have high blood pressure they don't think anything about it, but if you say I am bipolar they look at you like you are crazy. That is sadly true. A stereo-type that society can't seem to get past.
Michael find shame in himself because he has this disorder...something he wants desperately to gain control over and hates himself because he can't. He think at times to just say the hell with this and throw himself back into working 21 hours a day. That's not an option and he will only succeed in killing himself if he does.
He doesn't want to say the words I am bipolar to people..but like I told him...why does he have to? People who have high blood pressure...people who are diabetic...they don't walk around telling people...I'm a diabetic.
I think he is afraid of things that aren't there. No one is going to know he is bipolar just by looking at him. The people who need to know..they already do. I am closer to Michael than anyone and I am his number one fan.
His disorder is just something we live with, just like any other illness you get.
I will remind him everyday to take his medicine weather he likes it or not. I will keep learning more about his treatments and disorder and talk to him about it, weather he likes it or not. I will stand beside him and not find shame or embarrassment in him. And I will continue to love him and make our life together.
Like I said...I know he thinks that I am going to find some kind of shame in him...but as time goes on he sees more and more each day that's just not going to happen. It helps him to release some of that feeling in himself.


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