I had a big moment of awkwardness today. Of course it was in a crowded room. Crowded with people I barely knew. Fun times.
I've been going to a local Lutheran church here. I love it. The pastors are super nice, the congregation is lovely and welcoming, and there are tons of activities geared towards young families. This week was my second week going to a mom's group at the church. Margaret gets to hang in the nursery with other kids and I get to talk to grown ups. It's everything I ever dreamed of.
We are currently discussing Glennon Doyle Melton's book Carry On Warrior. (It's fantastic! This is my second time reading it.) You may also know her from her blog Momastery. Our pastor leading the discussion briefly left the room and the conversation somehow devolved into the possibility that Glennon was somehow Bipolar (I don't think she is) and was possibly using her platform to feed her Bipolar Disorder. I'm not sure exactly what that meant (Bipolar people have sociopathic traits? We're narcissists?), but it was rapidly going downhill.
I started to get very tense. My temperature rose and I started to get a little twitchy. My options were to stay quiet, leave the room, or speak up. And I did. I spoke just loud enough to be heard- "I just think that I should throw out there that I'm Bipolar." Perhaps not my most eloquent sentence, but it was heard, as the room went totally silent and all eyes were on me. "Just wanted to throw that out there." Then I attempted to rein in the conversation.
It wasn't my place to lecture anyone. I didn't want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable. They had done nothing wrong. I just wanted to stop feeling awkward. I was afraid that if I didn't say something at that moment, someone else might say something (perhaps completely unintentionally) that might make me feel permanently uncomfortable and unwelcome in that group. I think we've all had those moments and said things in the heat of the moment, and especially when in a group mentality, that we regret. I didn't want to be the unwelcome recipient of those kinds of statements.
In the end, I'm glad I said something, but I also feel like I had to tell something deeply personal that wasn't on my terms. I'm a little frustrated that I felt I had to say something before I was ready to share that. I've been working on not being so hesitant to share this part of me. I'm no longer ashamed of it, but I do feel like I'm contributing to the stigma and "hush-hush" nature of mental illness when I am afraid to talk about it. I firmly believe there's a time and a place for everything, but I also know that speaking out releases some of that shame that surrounds it. The less shame, the less power the stigma has, the less of a grip it holds over our lives.