Disclaimer on my Experience. A title like that doesn’t just drop into your lap. It had to come from somewhere.
It was all because of a mommy support thread on Facebook. A fellow mom pregnant with her first child asked those of us who had a c-section how we recovered. I let her know my recovery experience included keeping visitors at bay as long as possible, a post-partum binder, and sleeping on the couch until I could get in and out of my own bed. And that during this period of convalescing I kept the baby in a rocker next to the couch. Another poster misread what I wrote and said that she felt the need to tell this newbie mom that you should never sleep with your baby on the couch; that they should sleep in their own space with a flat surface. Her remark came off as very judgmental since she “wanted to make sure this new mom has all the facts” and was in direct response to thinking I co-slept with my baby those first nights home on the couch. Co-sleeping, of course, is a controversial topic for parents. I’m for it and it was the best sleeping arrangement for our family while I was nursing. But nonetheless, this commentor made me feel like I had to put a disclaimer in my comment – to let this mom know this was my experience and may or may not be the best thing for her own family. In my mind that was understood.
It made me think what this means for society at large; that actually we do live in an age where you need to put disclaimers on your experiences – we need to put qualifiers in our speech. It’s phrases like “This was my experience but…,” “This is my opinion but…,” and “This is none of my business but…” Maybe I’m a bit sensitive to this topic, though. Words like “crazy,” “bipolar,” and “moody” didn’t use to bother me as much, either. But now that I have a mood disorder, they hurt a bit. I don’t agree with the philosophy others have that these words should be stricken from our vocabulary to prevent offending others. But I do believe loved ones should be very careful with works like that. I have come to realize that my loved ones are most likely to run all I say, do, and feel through the “she’s having a crazy moody bipolar moment” filter since my diagnosis. It makes me feel that the validity of my person is at stake.
So maybe part of the purpose behind this blog is to acknowledge and own my experiences knowing mine is just one experience in the continuum of humanity. I need to accept that there is indeed a disclaimer – a bipolar disclaimer – on all I experience. Why else would my psychiatrist put special emphasis on the new aspects of my reality; that I need to be wary of all the ways my brain lies to me when I’m either hypomanic or depressed; that I need to continue to live my fullest potential but also understand that the medications I need actually do put limitations on me. It seems counterintuitive, but in saying these things, he’s actually validating my experience as one with bipolar. He’s gently trying to make me accept that this is a part of me now, and I have to learn to live with it.