A Bipolar doctor becomes authentic

I am a physician living with bipolar disorder.  For many years, I travelled the bumpy road of refusing to accept my diagnosis. I avoided psychiatric care for far too long. And, I internalized the shame and the stigma of being a doctor with a mental illness. This caused me to nail my bipolar closet closet door firmly shut.  Despite this, I opted a few years ago to step forward and publicly acknowledge that I have a mood disorder. I hoped that there would be a greater good in doing so.  I have shared my diagnosis with family, friends, colleagues and at international conferences. It was the start of a bipolar doctor becomes authentic.

Blue lights shining down illuminating the sharing of our stories

I never expected it but I have received more hugs and support from those who now know my story than I ever thought could come my way.  Although I had been worried about personal and professional repercussions, it turned out that these fears were unwarranted.  My biggest hurdle turned out to be the guy staring back at me from a mirror colored with self-condemnation.  I have come to see that there are few things in life more powerful than authenticity.  Replacing the corrosive inner narratives that had been swirling in my head with ones of affirmation and self respect has freed me in a way I couldn’t previously imagine.  By coming out of these shadows, I have stepped into the light of a much brighter and healthier day.

Read another post about authenticity here.

2 thoughts on “A Bipolar doctor becomes authentic

  1. Good for you, doctor. I applaud your genuineness. BUT, as the spouse of a Jeckyll/Hyde I can tell you the damage to our marriage is irreparable. We’ve only been married 2 1/2 years and as we are both senior citizens, decided we’d found the right one for the rest of our lives after a very brief 4 month courtship. I had no indication, no clue when we were dating that he had this “other side”. The verbal abuse is so painful, so loud, so frequent. Everything is my fault, I make him feel bad, he is only reacting, he never felt this way before. Bullshit. Some light investigation before hand would have revealed his duplicitous behavior and outbursts have been active his entire life. He has never gotten diagnosed, nor mediction. His “authentic self” is accurately depicted in this gender transformed quote from an old nursery rhyme: ‘when he’s good he’s very very good and when he’s bad he’s horrid’. I get not wanting mood medication as a valid approach. I’ve been a support for 2 relatives with mental health issues most of my adult life. Very different diagnosis than bi-polar. However, all my NAMI training never prepared me for the personal degradation, demoralization of my character and the erosion of trust perpetrated by someone who is so prone to turn 180 degrees from sweetheart to demon without provocation. So what advice can you give a loved one who isn’t sure whom she will be sharing a room, a car or a bed with from one minute to the next?

    1. I am so very sorry that you have been through so much pain. My heart goes out to you. Thank you so much for sharing. You may be helping many by sharing your story and educating others of the risks to family and friends having an untreated mental health condition. So glad that you have NAMI. I have always believed that psychiatric conditions aren’t solo journeys. Family and friends are taken along for the ride (sometimes in painful ways). My best to you.

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