I’m a little bit cantankerous today. You may want to bear that in mind as you read this.
I didn’t get enough sleep last night. And it’s Monday. And I just read an irksome piece by someone who describes herself as an “influential mental health writer” about why she doesn’t discuss the specifics of her bipolar treatment plan, and why we shouldn’t either. It basically boils down to, “nunya business”.
But when you’re putting yourself out there as a patient expert, having someone ask about your treatment plan–including medications–seems like a common occurrence. And it seems perfectly appropriate. Why get so defensive?
People ask because they are gathering information; either they are trying to understand, or they are trying to make an informed decision about their own treatment.
I don’t think it’s because “people want to be like” you.
I don’t think it’s because they want to judge you.
If people are judging you, they are most likely judging you for having a mental illness. The particulars of your treatment plan isn’t something about which those people are going to have fucks to give.
There are only a handful of drugs available to treat this disorder, but there are various combinations. And only a few talk/behavioral therapies that are geared towards treating the bipolar brain. When I made the decision to start a mood stabilizer, I talked to my doctor about my options. I then researched my options on my own, through various websites and by reading the Product Information sheets from the different pharmaceutical companies. I also spent a lot of time talking to other people in the bipolar community, to get a general feel for what side effects are really like. This allowed me to make the best possible decision about my treatment. This helped me prepare for what might be in store for me.
I realize that everyone has a different comfort level.
And, of course, this writer has every right to choose which bits of personal information she shares with the world.
I’m just puzzled because this particular piece of information seems less personal, to me, than other bits she shares freely in her (please excuse my cattiness…) rather self-indulgent blog.
(“Ahem,” you say? “Aren’t you writing this in your very own self-indulgent blog?” Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing. The irony isn’t lost on me, at all.)
Isn’t this kind of disclosure, when you’re already putting yourself out there, empowering?
And doesn’t encouraging an open dialogue about bipolar disorder and the treatments available for it, benefit us all?
Shutting it down, particularly in such a snarky way, feels self-stigmatizing to me.
Am I being hypercritical? Too sensitive?
Maybe my struggle with self-stigma has made this a touchy subject for me. Maybe I’m being myopic and am only seeing this in black and white. Maybe I’m just being a pain in the ass today. Who knows?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
How open are you about your treatment plan? Particularly in this forum?
Your insight is greatly welcomed.