Worried I shouldn't have disclosed bipolar

  1. 1
    Hi everyone. I'm new to the site. I have recently been having social issues on my unit and am worried it is because I stupidly disclosed that I have bipolar to another coworker. Hopefully I'm just being paranoid. When I first got hired on to the unit, one of my coworkers asked me for my number so we could go out. So, I called her and it turns out she has a medical condition and somehow the topic came up about health insurance and medications. I mentioned my medication. I only take one and it's very mild (my bipolar is pretty very similar to major depression overall). There's different types of bipolar not everyone is a volatile maniac. She asked why I was taking it and I told her. It just came out. To me it's just like any other medical condition you take meds for. Since then though, she has been a little distant and seems reluctant now to hang out where as before she was very friendly. What's worse is I think she may have told other people because some of my coworkers seem a little distant too. It could also be though that people have invited me out and I've been a little reclusive because I've been very very depressed. I'm in the process of ending a 8 year relationship and I'm living away from my friends and in a new state. Maybe my coworkers were offended I didn't take their first invitation and are now reluctant to invite me out. I dunno. I don't want to get paranoid and I do want to have friends to go out with because I don't have any friends in this town now. I don't want to be dependent on my coworkers for friendship either because if they don't like me I don't want to bend over backwards. I usually don't really care because I have awesome friends out of state and am from a state that has been a little more open minded about these kind of things. Any suggestions on how to handle this. Overall, my priority is not letting this affect my work environment and having people treat me differently or have some kind of gossip behind my back. I would definitely never tell anyone my business again in the future.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
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  3. 11 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    Hi. I wanted to lend some support. I, too, have Bipolar and am very open about about it. You are so right! All bipolar people are not the same! The stereotypical BP person wears blue eye shadow, talks a mile a minute and is basically out of control. Keep your head up; clearly, you are stable, being followed by a Dr., etc. My only advice would be to ask this nurse if your diagnosis is causing the distance you feel, and ask if she told other people at work. If she told others, that is hurtful, but you'll survive.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
  5. 2
    Even among healthcare providers, there is still stigma attached to mental illness. It sucks. I am not open about my bipolar disorder at work at all, because I'm afraid of the reaction. Being a nurse doesn't mean one understands mental illness at all, and they may expect you to fit into the stereotype.
    I don't make friends at work for this reason also. If I got to be "outside friends" with someone from work, they'd find out, and it logically follows that so would the rest of the workplace.

    I'm sorry this happened and I hope it's not a reaction to your having bipolar disorder. Good luck.
    anotherone and VivaLasViejas like this.
  6. 5
    Welcome to Allnurses.com! You have more company here than you might think; there are a number of nurses with bipolar disorder who post regularly on this site---myself included---and who support each other through the difficulties we face as nurses and students with mental illness.

    I know what it's like to worry about bipolar at work. In fact, I lost my last job because of a wild, stress-induced mixed episode that ended in what used to be called a "nervous breakdown", causing me to have to go on medical leave for almost a month. I was also nearly hospitalized. When I returned to work, my psychiatrist gave my employer a list of reasonable accommodations for my illness that was promptly rejected, because they decided they "couldn't" make those accommodations. I still don't know how they got around the Americans with Disabilities Act on this one, but like most large companies, they have an office full of lawyers who figured out a loophole. At least I got unemployment benefits.....

    I'll never forget the day I was let go. My administrator and the corporate nurse consultant were there in the office; both were very sorry about having to do this, but I'll never forget what she said: "It's not your fault. It's chemical." What a way to sum up almost three years of dedication and hard work.

    After that, I vowed never again to disclose my BP diagnosis to an employer, although it would've been hard because I AM that manic motor-mouth with the blue eyeshadow! But what do you know, I got lucky and went back to work for a former employer where everybody knows I'm bipolar, but they like and respect me anyway.

    I hope you'll enjoy your membership here at AN, and that you'll post often. Some members are very open about their diagnosis and are happy to share their experiences. One of the things I like to do here is educate people on mental illness (bipolar in particular because that's my area of expertise), and I'm happy to report that thanks to the many members who've told their stories, the stigma here is much less than it used to be.
  7. 3
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    Welcome to Allnurses.com! You have more company here than you might think; there are a number of nurses with bipolar disorder who post regularly on this site---myself included---and who support each other through the difficulties we face as nurses and students with mental illness.I know what it's like to worry about bipolar at work. In fact, I lost my last job because of a wild, stress-induced mixed episode that ended in what used to be called a "nervous breakdown", causing me to have to go on medical leave for almost a month. I was also nearly hospitalized. When I returned to work, my psychiatrist gave my employer a list of reasonable accommodations for my illness that was promptly rejected, because they decided they "couldn't" make those accommodations. I still don't know how they got around the Americans with Disabilities Act on this one, but like most large companies, they have an office full of lawyers who figured out a loophole. At least I got unemployment benefits.....I'll never forget the day I was let go. My administrator and the corporate nurse consultant were there in the office; both were very sorry about having to do this, but I'll never forget what she said: "It's not your fault. It's chemical." What a way to sum up almost three years of dedication and hard work. After that, I vowed never again to disclose my BP diagnosis to an employer, although it would've been hard because I AM that manic motor-mouth with the blue eyeshadow! But what do you know, I got lucky and went back to work for a former employer where everybody knows I'm bipolar, but they like and respect me anyway. I hope you'll enjoy your membership here at AN, and that you'll post often. Some members are very open about their diagnosis and are happy to share their experiences. One of the things I like to do here is educate people on mental illness (bipolar in particular because that's my area of expertise), and I'm happy to report that thanks to the many members who've told their stories, the stigma here is much less than it used to be.
    Sad. But the fact is that any mental or emotional problem (or the meds used to combat them) is now becoming another way for the BON to pounce. I would argue that in the workplace, you have no friends (even more so in nursing)-so you might want to keep conversations on a need to know basis. I have a sister with serious and multiple psych issues- I wouldn't be surprised if her medical history eventually comes to the BON, and then they assume that I may have a problem? It's ugly, folks. Think before you disclose.
  8. 2
    "Pandora's box". Keep that reference in mind (and this one : "Hell hath no fury like the BON"), next time you are inclined to disclose your mental /or physical/or relational information to those people you assume are your 'friends'. Lots of things are better kept under lock and key.
    VivaLasViejas and anotherone like this.
  9. 0
    Quote from mlbluvr
    Sad. But the fact is that any mental or emotional problem (or the meds used to combat them) is now becoming another way for the BON to pounce. I would argue that in the workplace, you have no friends (even more so in nursing)-so you might want to keep conversations on a need to know basis. I have a sister with serious and multiple psych issues- I wouldn't be surprised if her medical history eventually comes to the BON, and then they assume that I may have a problem? It's ugly, folks. Think before you disclose.
    I kind of agree with this, probably more so in certain states, especially ones that ask about mental health issues on you license app. I've always been hesitant to apply in those states. I in most places though the ADA trumps the BON. In my particular case having over 10 years of stability, I am not too concerned about the boards of nursing. I don't think they could ever be successful at touching my license, due to strong support from psychiatrists and such. I also have good performance evaluations and such. But it would be a hassle to deal with it even if I won. It is definitely something I would probably not disclose in the future, unless I was sure I could trust the person.
  10. 1
    Quote from Panasonic
    Hi. I wanted to lend some support. I, too, have Bipolar and am very open about about it. You are so right! All bipolar people are not the same! The stereotypical BP person wears blue eye shadow, talks a mile a minute and is basically out of control. Keep your head up; clearly, you are stable, being followed by a Dr., etc. My only advice would be to ask this nurse if your diagnosis is causing the distance you feel, and ask if she told other people at work. If she told others, that is hurtful, but you'll survive.
    I feel like I just want it to go away now though. I don't want to draw any attention to it. If I asked her she could lie and I wouldn't know anyway. I just feel so weird an embarrassed to say anything now.
    anotherone likes this.
  11. 1
    Quote from mlbluvr
    "Pandora's box". Keep that reference in mind (and this one : "Hell hath no fury like the BON"), next time you are inclined to disclose your mental /or physical/or relational information to those people you assume are your 'friends'. Lots of things are better kept under lock and key.
    I think this can definitely be true. The problem with non disclosure though is that it maintains stigma when in fact bipolar and other mental health issues are not that out of the ordinary. People have to get used to it because it's dumb for all that stigma to exist. It's just another medical problem, nothing special in a disease sense. HIV was stigmatized this way and now things are different in most places. Part of changing stigma was to talk about HIV openly including transmission information etc to dispel the myths and fears surrounding the illness. If people talked about mental illness and fears people have and got the facts straight things might change faster.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
  12. 2
    Quote from Jenny878
    I feel like I just want it to go away now though. I don't want to draw any attention to it. If I asked her she could lie and I wouldn't know anyway. I just feel so weird an embarrassed to say anything now.
    Yeah, let it blow over. I would not try to make friends at work. Find them outside in your new town. Obviously be friendly and considerate of coworkers but remember you only need to do three things at work: show up on time, do what you are told, and leave on time. Don't be there to make friends. If it happens, that can be a bonus.
    anotherone and Jenny878 like this.


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