Opening Up

Having a mental illness is an uncomfortable thing to handle as far as what you go through – when both before and after being diagnosed, initially, and the living with it afterwards.

You’re expected when going through the process – of being “in treatment” – to not only suddenly be forthcoming with your issues but openly and honestly, to complete strangers, – doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, sometimes case managers, etc. You might be put on new medications or have to go to group sessions. You suddenly have to make privacy decisions – do you allow others to know of it, or do you keep it to yourself? Do you allow loved ones to know or do you go in alone to sessions?

People who are in it and have been in it for years, don’t talk about this enough to those who are outside of the system. Yes, it’s great to be supportive of each other and I love our community for that. But if we don’t open up and share, if we are able, how do those entering our community, how else are they going to find out accurately what the experiences can be like?

For those of you who don’t understand or are outside of the mental health community. – it can feel very invasive. the process is, in a sense, like removing our privacy, our safety net. People don’t share or don’t want to share, how terrifyingly helpless you can feel when entering it or having decisions made both for you and on your behalf.

More then that, even if you mean well, you, as an advocate who isn’t going through the process yourself – can sometimes make us angry, when you take away our choice to let others know if we have the mental illness or not. we’re not always comfortable, being introduced as your son or daughter who has this illness. and please excuse our behaviors because we have this. we’re not looking to be understood, not always, just ….we’re people first. introduce us as a person, not as what we’re diagnosed with. Yeah, we put up with it, but it’s not always needed to excuse things.

with mental illness, it’s part of how we are, not who we are.

You’ll forget that sometimes. But try not to.

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