Mentally Shrill #018: Should you tell people that you're bipolar?
Also, things that only weird people do
If you’re wondering where I’ve been, I got a job and started going to bed at 9:30 pm. (GIRLBOSS ALERT❗️🚨❗️) I also started a Queen Latifah fan account on Insta (Follow if you’re not fake!) and I am so sorry but you people will never get between me and Dana. Or me and chasing a bag. Or me and sleeping for that matter!
In this issue, we have a handy little guide to help one process a bipolar II diagnosis, as well as a list of things I personally find weird. Technically no one “asked” me for this list in the traditional sense, but I refuse to let that stop me from getting some things off my chest.
**A gentle reminder that I’m not a medical professional nor claiming to be one and that pursuing litigation over anything said in this newsletter is useless as I have a net worth in the negs 😘.
Subject: All aboard the bipolar (ii) express!
I just got diagnosed with bipolar ii disorder. Should I tell people? What do I do now? As much positive new branding there is out there for mental health, I can’t help but feel embarrassed, ashamed, and childish. I don’t want to be judged or questioned or treated differently, but at the same time I’m angry at myself for even caring what some family members will think. What do you think?
Sad ghost face
Dear sad ghost face,
Don’t feel ashamed! If anything, you should be ashamed of that bipolar express joke, but there’s no need for me to kick you while you’re down so we can move on. In all seriousness: Catherine Zeta-Jones has bipolar II, and she’s Catherine Zeta-Jones so I’m pretty sure you’ll be fine!
Should I tell people?
YES! (At your own pace, of course.) I can’t tell you when you’ll be ready to open up about your diagnosis, but I can tell you that being open and upfront about my mental health has made a lot of things easier for me. Plus? Being mentally ill is all the rage today, babes. Get into it 😎.
What do I do now?
Since you’ve been diagnosed, I’m going to assume you’ve done the whole song and dance of finding a doctor and discussing the next steps, but here’s what I’ve found helpful for after all of that:
Be patient (and kind) to yourself! There’s no use in beating yourself up over something you can’t control, and you’re doing your best! You should be incredibly proud of yourself for even taking the time to seek help/get a diagnosis. That’s Bad Bitch Behavior™! While a diagnosis is a great start, it can be overwhelming and is still just a start after all. Deciding on a treatment plan can take some time and isn’t something you want to rush, so it’s essential to let yourself take all the time you need.
It’s okay to take some time to “grieve,” but cap that shit at about two business days MAX if possible, and remember that you are in no way at fault. You and this diagnosis are in it for the long haul, so buckle up! I made you this as a handy reference:
If you haven’t already, start monitoring your mood/emotions and how you feel generally. Tracking your mood will make it easier for you to notice any side effects or changes that may come if you’re starting new meds and can also help you begin to identify things/events that trigger episodes. For me, a large part of keeping my mental health in check is avoiding things (trying to calculate however much the fuck 15% off is at any given time) or situations (Cosco gas stations) that I find unpleasant. In short, I find acting like a fucking pussy 24/7 for 365 days a year extremely helpful in navigating mental illness and I don’t care who knows it 😤!
Speaking of meds, if you will be taking them, don’t be ashamed! Some people can go their entire lives without needing medication to get through the day, and some people can’t; either way, we’re all (allegedly) getting through the day. People who don’t take meds are no better than people who need to and vice Versace (an autocorrect that’s staying), so do what works for you! Take them as instructed, get into a routine where you’re taking them as regularly as possible, and drink obnoxious amounts of water. Also, please know that there is zero shame in investing in one of these bad boys:
If you’re not already, try to get yourself on a regular sleep schedule, it’s life-changing.
As I was saying earlier, you and bipolar disorder are basically besties now, so take some time to learn as much about it as you can. As I do not have bipolar disorder, I consulted a panel of experts (people on my Close Friends list), who overwhelmingly suggested An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. When I say they “overwhelmingly suggested,” I mean one person replied, but it has excellent reviews and is written by a psychologist who has bipolar disorder, so fuck it, we ball 🏀.
If you can, avoid making any crucial decisions (that don’t concern your mental health) for a bit. How pissed would you be if three months from now you wake up in a new apartment that’s ugly as shit because you moved while also trying to juggle a bipolar II diagnosis? Not chic.
You might also find it helpful to see if there are support groups available. There’s always the chance that the support group isn’t helpful, but the worst-case scenario is you get stuck in a group with a guy who works at a car dealership downtown and does credit repair as a side hustle so you at least get a funny story out of it. (Miss him TBH!) Whatever you do, do not go to Twitter. Under no circumstances should someone go to Twitter dot com seeking mental health advice. Getting medical advice on Twitter is basically the same thing as getting Groupon fillers. Just no ❤️.
I can’t help but feel embarrassed, ashamed, and childish
There is nothing childish about being mentally ill!
Childish would’ve been the time my boss called me retarded after I asked her to repeat something, or Taylor Lorenz asking me if my brain was broken (Yes ❤️) after she unleashed that weird tweet about LA air quality. There’s also the time this kid named Bryan made fun of my stutter in front of the entire class but that was in elementary school so it’s like…literally childish and not worth unpacking. Regardless, my point is that all of the aforementioned people are going to Hell and they will NOT be seeing either one of us there ☝🏾.
I wish I could tell you that we’ve advanced enough as a society for you to not have to worry about these things, but I can’t. We haven’t even advanced enough as a society to update the Bank of America app, so destigmatizing mental health is a solid 2-3 years out IMO.
TLDR: People who make you feel uncomfortable about your mental health or try to weaponize it are flops and also God’s least favorites 🚫🏆.
I don’t want to be judged or questioned or treated differently
This is a perfectly valid fear, but you need to remember that you are not at fault here, and anyone who implies differently isn’t worth dealing with. In terms of being treated differently, hear me out: In some ways, you might need to be. I don’t mean that everyone you know should start announcing your presence every time you enter a room, but I think being mentally healthy and having a solid support system that’s understanding of your needs go hand in hand. Don’t think of asking for help or needing special accommodations as being treated differently. Think of it as the playing field being leveled so you have a fair chance at getting through the day!
I’m angry at myself for even caring what some family members will think
As I said earlier: 🗣BE NICE TO YOURSELF! It’s okay that you care, and you should- it’s your life! Look at it this way: On the off chance that family members do react negatively, you’ll save a fortune buying them gifts come December 🤑🤑🤑!
I think I’ve covered everything, but feel free to email me anytime if you want to chat more. Remember that this diagnosis is just that: a diagnosis and, in no way does it define who you are as a person.
As we all know, I have never been wrong in my entire life and find deep pleasure in complaining about things, hence the list below. A light sampling of what I personally consider one of the greatest texts of our time:
I present to you: Weird people shit.
Don’t forget: nothing on this list is up for debate and don’t forget to ask me questions!
I’ll be a guest on Lovett or Leave It: Live or Else in Hollywood tomorrow (10/21)! I’ll be giving audience members advice, so you can think of it as this newsletter but IRL. (Plus you’ll get to see my under-eye filler!) You can get tickets here.