Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Screw Stigma

Being Open About My Mental Illness With Others
IT ISN'T EASY. Even with the awareness that the people closest to me would not think any different of me, or distance themselves from me in any way, the thought of letting them see my imperfections took hold of me. It inhibited me from not only speaking about what I was dealing with, but also from revealing that anything was going on.
I detached myself from my emotions-- a part of me dealt with my disorder in solitude and a part of me worked relentlessly to present myself the people around me as an incredibly stable and content person who walked through life effortlessly.
I'm sure you could ask anyone who knows me, closely or even just as an acquaintance and they wouldn't even have an inkling that I've been dealing with so many issues for so long.

Believe it or not, my parents and brother were completely unaware.

This made sharing what i'd kept secret for so long 10x harder because I was so afraid that others close to me would feel guilty, or like they'd failed me because they hadn't noticed anything was wrong.
I didn't want my illness to effect them.
But I needed help.
I was exhausted and couldn't do it on my own anymore.

 I also had this backward notion that being honest and open about my difficulties would make them increasingly real (as if they weren't real already, sheesh!), and I wasn't ready for that. At least while the thoughts of having a mental disorder were in my head I could deny their truth, convince myself that I was getting worked up over nothing or that what I was experiencing was "normal".

There's no going back after opening up about your disorder, its hard, its complicated, you might regret it at first (I know I did!), but it's progress. Its the first step on a long, winding, frustrating path to living a more stable and enjoyable life. I'd say I'm still working on that first step, and thats okay. I'm not even aware of how long I've been effected by mental illness, so how can I expect to improve in any less time than I've been burdened by it?

As a result of reaching out I have an incredible support system in my family and close friends. I'm not saying I'm always open about how I feel, or that I never experience a certain embarrassment or feeling of inferiority due to the disorder I have. This blog, in part, is a way to force myself to be more open about my experiences in hope that others similar to me can do the same. And only through each of us being open, can we create an expanding sense of awareness and understanding. 

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