I want to share about this topic because I think it is important to be able to talk openly about mental health so people that care about me can understand what I am going through. Talking with people who don’t know me about having a mental illness could help reduce the stigma surrounding the subject. At times when I didn’t know how to talk about it I experienced shame and I felt alone in my struggles.
When I was diagnosed in 1992 there was not as much discussion about mental health as it seems there is today. I was hospitalized for almost two months in the summer between grade nine and grade ten. I believe everyone who knew me at the time was informed of my circumstance.
When I returned home to my family and to school it was very awkward. No one including me seemed comfortable talking about what I had just been through. I heard various rumors that were complete exaggerations. I heard that people were saying I was having acid flashbacks. I overheard people completely making up stories involving my situation. Not many people spoke directly to me. I felt misunderstood and helpless to control what people would think. I tried not to let it bother me but it did. At the time I hadn’t fully accepted my diagnosis as well so that also made it difficult to talk about.
I don’t mind talking about it now because I have matured. I want a certain amount of privacy, so I don’t go around shouting from the rooftops that I have mental health issues, but if it is appropriate I am willing to be open about my experiences.
To get from where I was to where I am now required first accepting that I have a mental illness and then having compassion for myself and an understanding that it isn’t something to be ashamed of. It took a very long time to get to this point.
I am hopeful that I can help others who struggle with the their own mental illness and I am hopeful that I can help people who don’t understand what mental illness is gain insight and perspective. I am curious what it has been like for you. Please comment by clicking the button below the title above. How difficult has it been to be upfront about having been told you are mentally ill? How have people reacted to you?