So, there have been a few firsts for me lately. I've gotten to talk to someone who knows how I feel, I actually voiced the sentence "I have bipolar disorder," and I experienced the offending side of labeling someone with a mental illness.
I met a guy today who is funny, cute, easy to talk to, and also has bipolar. I was thrown back a bit when he told me that. It honestly made me a little uncomfortable for a minute. I mean, we've been texting for about a week now, and he never said anything, but when we met up today, the subject came up, and it weirded me out. (Yes, weirded is a word. I put it in my dictionary last week.)
Whenever I tell people, I can actually see them tense up and get uncomfortable. It's not difficult to spot. It's one of the first things you learn to see. I never thought that I'd be the one tensing up, though.
I mean, why should it make me uncomfortable? I'll tell you why... social conditioning. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... we are all taught that mental illness is shameful and something to be hidden and feared. It's not just something people who aren't affected learn, we all do. I was ashamed of myself for thinking that, because this amazing guy has an illness, I should be afraid of him.
I changed my thinking and we had a great time together! I just wonder how many opportunities to get to know amazing people that others miss because of this social conditioning.
I am not my illness.