There’s her and then there’s me. We work in the same department. She’s an outcast like me and we are both talked about behind our backs for different reasons.
In June I fell. A side effect from bipolar meds – loss of balance. I was alone. No one to help me. The pain? I sucked it up. I had to. I’m alone. What else must I do? I went for physio and endured this pain for 2 months without anyone giving a shit. They were intolerant, annoyed with me. I presume a lot of eye rolling. After no improvement 2 months later, I was put into hospital. I drove myself there and I drove myself home. Despite the pain. I was in hospital for 5 days. No one from work messaged me, phone or visited. No one gave a shit. Diagnosis – a herniated disc and sciatica. Treatment – drugs, physio, and an epidural. None of the treatments worked and I was sent home in exactly the same pain with no information on pain management for sciatica. I did this alone and have no one at home to help me with everyday tasks.
She also fell. Granted a far more dramatic fall than mine – she fell down some stairs. But there are parallels in our injuries because both have resulted in pain. Her – a broken rib and a compressed vertebrae. The difference? She has a husband and a teenage son. They helped her, phoned an ambulance. Everyone one of us at work was more than concerned. The people I work with had a busy day, sending text messages and phone calls to her, to family members and involved themselves in her crisis. Concern was expressed, we talked amongst ourselves with compassion. No judgement or criticism; sending good wishes, getting updates. There was no eye rolling involved. They’re all going to visit her over the weekend.
As far as our ‘work friends’, in her crisis, she mattered. In my crisis, I didn’t. The difference? I have bipolar. She doesn’t. I was long ago labelled ‘drama queen’, over sensitive, too emotional. So everyone rolls their eyes and I am dismissed, overlooked and invisible. No one believes me. Fuck, I feel so alienated. This does not feel normal. I’ve tried to find the normal in this but realised stigma is not normal. At least, it shouldn’t be.
Ignorance is not a good look. Don’t they realise how ugly it makes them. I am also going to visit her this weekend because I know how important it is to have visitors when you’re in hospital. I’m going because I genuinely care, not because I’m just fucking curious.