So often people become defined as their mental or addiction disorder. When another person finds out that a person they are talking to or working with has bipolar or is an recovering alcoholic, then the egg-shells come out.
I speak from personal experience in knowing this. The greatest fault I see is the generalization and treatment of people with disorders and disabilities. When someone I know finds out I'm a recovering alcoholic the atmosphere tends to change and people start adjusting their behavior and even the way they are speaking.
Certain outings I'd be involved in changed based on my needs but more importantly the needs of those friends and certain family members if hang out with. All of the sudden it was so much fun for other people to do things sober and still enjoy it so invitations slowed down or when we'd somewhere, everything was based on their need to get buzzed and try to keep it as low profile to me as possible.
As I'm sure many of you living with a disorder or dual-disorders agree that perception, knowledge, coherence, behavior and physical chemistry adjust in our bodies to see the real 'McCoy' within ourselves. I admit at first, when I got out of treatment the first and second time, I felt sorry for myself that I could no longer drink a 5th and a 12 pack on the golf course or in my fishing boat. People I used to hang out with were in mourning when I admitted myself into a treatment center to get professional help because they no longer had that person to escape their problems with.
To my face, point blank, I've had others call alcoholics weak, worthless and a drain on society, not knowing they were talking to a person living with an addiction and bipolar disorder. That's where it becomes interesting in how to respond to those comments made by others... Responding instead of reacting becomes a critical strategy in interacting with that other person. I am at a point in my life where I like and need things structured, structure that I create, and adjust as needed. I'm past the point of acknowledging other peoples ignorance that takes away from my spritual / emotional / physical energy and growth to get through my day, week, month, year and be a productive family man and professional.
I know I'm defined as a 34 year old man by the name of Mark. I'm still an alcoholic and have a significant bipolar disorder but that does not define my life. Knowing that drinking again will kill me, not taking my prescribed psychiatric meds will probably lead me to jail, but that knowledge makes me stronger and more equipped in life. It's about generalizing and applying critical skills to continue to live in peace.
So.... My name is Mark and I live with an addiction and bipolar disorder.
May Peace Be With You...