Not Coming Out . . . Not yet

19Dec12

To tell or not to tell.

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I was reading a great blog from Disorderly Chickadee (http://wp.me/p26KTD-H0) about coming out with a mood disorder at work. It was amazing and I suggest you give it a read. I especially like how she draws the parallel between coming out gay, and coming out bipolar – both states carry a stigma and can cause some normally nice people to act in very hurtful ways. Either way, when you have a mood disorder, it is always hard to tell your friends and coworkers that you have a problem.

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I personally am struggling with the idea of letting my work mates know about my mood disorder. I want to trust them but their rejection could be so powerful that it might cost me my job! On the other hand, I struggle (a lot lately) and could use some extra help or consideration during my low times. I really don’t have an answer to this. Can anyone shape up the pro’s and cons of ‘Telling’ vs. ‘Not Telling’ for me?

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I feel like I’ve lost a battery to myself somewhere, so when I have more energy I’ll try to put this list together . . . but for now, I remain hidden – not for shame, but for fear.

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We could live by the standard of ‘always be true to yourself’ (which I try to be all the time), and ‘be yourself no matter what’, but the fact at the end of the day is that bills need to be paid or children don’t get to eat. So my fear is not based on others opinions of me ( well not completely anyway), but rather the fear of losing my job/career and losing my ability to provide. Yes, yes, we know there are laws that keep people from firing people for having a mental illness, but we also know that if a business really wants you gone, they will find ways to make it so. Therefore, I will go to work with as much bravado as I can muster, but my true self will often be hiding in the back of the room desperately waiting out the day.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation” – Henry David Thoreau

BUT!

“Desperation is sometimes as powerful an inspirer as genius” – Benjamin Disraeli

Let’s survive this together inside or out of the closet and shadows.

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15 Responses to “Not Coming Out . . . Not yet”

  1. If you’re having a hard time at work with your mental illness, I would suggest coming out about it to your boss/ supervisor, since they’re really the only one who matters when it gets down to it. I used to work in an environment where I pretty much knew it wouldn’t be understood by my coworkers, but, one day I had forgotten to take my pills, and I had to tell my boss why I needed to go home in the middle of my shift to get them. He handled it quite well, and knew not to blab to my coworkers when they asked where I had gone for an hour.

    It’s a difficult decision to make. I wish you luck with whatever choice you make.

    • Thanks,
      I work in a place that can be pretty poisonous and it wears me down. I’ve been witness to some pretty unethical behavior from my boss and the office staff so I’m going to lay low as long as I can. It’s enough right now to have the blog, a few close friends, and my doctor’s support.
      I’m glad to hear your story though since it’s uplifting to know that ‘coming out’ can be a positive thing. I’ll keep up the blog and we’ll see how things go 🙂

  2. Those who have nothing to lose are the most dangerous. 🙂

  3. I had to eventually tell my supervisor when working, since I was hospitalized and couldn’t come into work, also not being able to give a concrete time I would be back. It was even scarier since I worked with kids and I didn’t know how he would take it. He was one of the most supportive people I have told and even though I no longer work there, he still texts me to ask how I am and we get together once in awhile.
    I have also had negative reactions with co-workers asking me in that tone “Are you okay?” anytime they didn’t like the way I was asking. Patronizing tone that’s what it was called.
    I would suggest if you need accommodation to start with your supervisor since he/she is the one who would probably approve it. If you are seeing a psychiatrist they can give you a note requiring to make certain accommodation, my employer was okay with it without paperwork.
    As for telling other co-workers a lot of times you can predict how the person will react based on their personality also if they gossip or bad talk other co-workers you probably don’t want them to know.

  4. 6 Pining for Grace

    I don’t want to give you bad advice, but the less people know about at your job, the better. May I ask why you feel the need to tell people this?

    • I work in a place where people are very close. We know so much about each other, we’ve been friends during so much. But my illness has gotten much worse this year to the point where I’ve had to take time off work. I feel that I can’t share this info, but I feel like I’m offending my work ‘friends’ by not sharing

      • 8 Pining for Grace

        It’s only my opinion, and keep in mind I feel jaded by past coworkers. I personally wouldn’t worry about it. I just do not trust people in that way, I’ve been burned to many times. I lost my job just a few months ago in part because my so called friends ran their mouth about negative stuff I said about the company. I worry about giving the wrong advice as maybe your situation is different. But to me? When it’s coming to the average person? The less they know the better.

        However, if you really need to get this out to make yourself feel better, do what you need to do. 🙂

        Just tread easy.

      • I’m always happy for the advice 🙂
        I’m pretty wary too.

  5. 10 Pining for Grace

    Just be honest with yourself and ask yourself, what do you hope to accomplish by coming out. 🙂

  6. 11 Pining for Grace

    Please forgive me for leaving another comment. You have inspired me. In a situation like this, I feel my advice will be a little biased with cynicism. I learned when it’s coming to an individual situation such as yours, I should use more care in sharing my thoughts. It’s difficult to give you accurate advice because I don’t know you personally or your coworkers. I don’t think anyone should have to worry and hide in a closet, I don’t want my advice to keep you in a closet…

    Do you see a therapist? Advice would be much more accurate if you talked to someone than it would be getting advice on the web simply because of the therapist getting to know you one on one.

    Again, this is only my opinion that’s a general rule of thumb that holds true in most situations, the less people know about your business the better. If deep down you don’t trust your coworkers, than keep it to yourself. If deep down your intuition tells you to trust them, then let the cat out of the bag. If you’re unsure, ask a therapist who knows you.

    In the end, it’s in my opinion your well being comes first. I wouldn’t feel obligated to tell anyone just because you feel bad about it.

    Please, don’t hesitate to ask me any questions if you need me to clarify anything. 🙂

    • You are very welcome 🙂

      I talked to my doctor about it and she just told me to keep it quiet – ‘no need to add stress’ she said.
      I’ve taken some time off work (medical leave) and I’ve had a few people come right out and ask what is wrong with me and I’ve deflected them as politely as I could. Now I just dread going back to work and having to face that.
      I guess there is no easy road not matter what we do. I’ll definitely take what you said to heart. I know you are being protective, and I am thankful

      • 13 Pining for Grace

        Yeah, when it comes down to it, you have to listen to your gut, which can be hard sometimes when emotion blur that gut feeling. Something I feel bad about though, I didn’t know people were being picked on for depression and such… 😦

  7. I haven’t come out yet. Only a few chosen people in my life know. The stigma is horrible. Our situation is just mis-understood by the masses. Boo to the masses 🙂

    • Lol! Boo to the masses indeed.
      I’ve recently taken sick leave due to the bipolar, and now I am worried about trying to explain to everyone why I was away without being too vague or specific.


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