Telling Your In-laws You Have a Mental Illness
I remember 9 years ago my dream came true. I married my prince charming a deadhead, seattle seahawks fanatic who picked me up in his burgundy Toyota truck for our first date. I had already told Gary 2 years ago when we first started dating that I had bipolar disorder. He had seen me in remission and I believe my illness never got in his way his love for me. Ok that was great however as we took our vows we had a decision to make. To tell all his aunts and uncles, cousins, sister and brother and sister in law about my mental illness. I feared being the latest gossip of the family. I know Gary did too. I could hear it in my mind "Did you know Gary's new wife has bipolar disorder?""What was he thinking marrying her?" News would spread like the wildfire spreads in the Californina fires. Calls would be made to the Midwest where Gary's family is located.Perhaps his family would not understand the responsibility Gary took when he married me. I was not sure people in his family even knew what bipolar disorder was. Then there is the stigma having a mental illness. Some people fear it because they only see the negative that is all over the news. I had only met a few people fromGary's side of the family before we were married. With all the distance involved through the many miles we lived apart there was not a sensible way of telling them. What were we supposed to do announce it in our first Christmas letter? We could just throw that in there right? Maybe it would say " We became newlyweds this past year. Had a perfect Honeymoon in Hawaii and by the way Susie was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she way 19." So we just did not say anything. Then the day came I had the crazy idea of writing my story. I realized I was not being true to myself as I looked in the mirror. I felt having bipolar was a sense of shame. Why should I have to hide it from anyone? I work hard at staying healthy. I take my meds everyday and I could not tell you the last time I forgot to take them. I go to the gym and try to watch what I eat. (Unless Gary is cooking his amazing BBQ or a good steak):) . I sleep 8 or more hours a night. The joke was always we will tell the family when the book comes out. Well as a surprise to us all the good Lord made that happen. I must say Gary's family has been nothing but supportive with my diagnosis. Perhaps it is true "There is nothing to fear but fear itself " as my grandma's favorite president Franklin D Roosevelt put it.