Why she Tell These 4 Lies About Her Bipolar Disorder

Lie #2: “I was laid off from work.”

The lie about being let go — not fired — eventually became a part of my resume. Every time I interviewed, I told the story of being laid off.

I had a similar experience in my next job, with a medical leave turning into my position being eliminated. The difference was that at first, I only took a month off because of paralyzing anxiety, though I told my boss that I was having panic attacks. I felt like panic was more relatable and more “normal” than anxiety.

When I returned to work, my boss had reassigned most of my work to other people. My duties had shrunk to almost nothing, which felt like punishment for taking time off.

One day, the division head berated me for making a mistake, a single calculation error in a sales presentation. I felt like my boss had told him that my leave had been for mental and emotional reasons.

I’d been an exemplary employee but for this one error, but the way the division head spoke to me triggered my anxiety, my depression, and my fears of being “less than” because of my disease.

The workplace stress drove me to take a leave of indeterminate time, during which I was hospitalized and learned that I had bipolar disorder.

I never returned to that job, and I’ll always believe that if I hadn’t been as honest about my emotional state, my workplace situation would have been less antagonistic and less detrimental to my disease.

Lie #3: “I don’t need help. I’m fine.”

Recovering from bipolar took longer than my previous recoveries. I took more medications, had more symptoms to manage, and felt like I didn’t know where to start.

I stayed in a psychiatric hospital for over two weeks to stabilize my condition. My father asked if he should come visit from Las Vegas. I told him no, that I didn’t need his help, I was doing fine.

The truth was that I wasn’t doing fine, but I didn’t want him to see how sick I was.

I also didn’t want him to see the other patients in the hospital. I knew that the worrier in him would equate the lethargy of some of the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) patients or the erratic violence of some of the people with schizophrenia, with my condition. I wanted him to stay as optimistic as possible about my prognosis.

I felt like if he saw me at my lowest point, he’d never not feel the pain of wishing he could take away mine.

I’ve been hospitalized four times and my dad has never seen me there.

It takes effort to pretend to be getting better — and to have my relatives run interference — so that he doesn’t worry about me to death, but it’s worth it to me.

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