My coming out story-the mental illness one

10 Oct

wmhd15 Today is World Mental Day, ending mental illness awareness week.  This years theme is “Dignity in Mental Health.”  Dignity is often paired with honor and respect.  With the continuation of mass shootings and that being one of the few times we speak about mental health or mental illness raises stigma and fear and reinforces what the general population may already assume.

I’m usually pretty quite about who I disclose my mental illnesses too.  Both have some severe negative stereotypes that I just don’t fit.  I feel like I have to let people get to know me and respect me before them finding out I have mental illnesses.  I am so much more than them.  It gets awkward in the college setting when I need to explain my situation to professors because of hospitalizations, for the most part I’ve already established I’m a good serious student and it doesn’t pose that much of a problem.  Some professors are curious and they ask me personal questions which I’m happy to answer to help educate people what it’s really like.  But I have had situations where I needed to tell professors before anything happened and before they knew me and it hasn’t gone well.  They think I’m lazy and will not go to class because of my mental health issues, they try to explain it’s not the class for people “like me.”  I’ve since stopped telling professors right out and only when necessary.

As far as friends go, most people know I have mental health problems just not the extent of them.  When I give them my whole history with ECT treatments, hospitalizations, surgery, how many meds I’ve tried people are often surprised.  They don’t think someone with my mental illnesses and history matches up with their perception of what type of person that would be like.  It helps reduce stigma and stereotypes and shows that some of us with severe mental illnesses can get along in the world okay most of the time.  Thursday, I decided to come out with my mental illnesses on Facebook I got positive responses but I wonder if they really know what it means and what it’s like.  Diagnosis are just labels of clusters of symptoms, people with the same disorder may present very differently.  I don’t want people to equate psychosis with violence or borderline personality disorder with rage and stalking.  The movies and news screw things up for us.  I want people to respect me and treat me with dignity even though I have mental illnesses and they may not understand.  I don’t want people to dismiss me or make assumptions based on my diagnosis, that’s one of the hardest things about online dating.  When to disclose and how much to, especially since so much of my life is effected by my mental illnesses.  Most women just stop talking after they find out, but I don’t want to feel like I have to hide a part of myself or be ashamed.

I’ve only had one real job, old work.  And my boss was really understanding of my mental health issues.  I was terrified to tell him after I got hospitalized and missed work, because it was a job caring for children and I though maybe he wouldn’t think I was capable or would think I was dangerous or many of the stereotypes you hear.  Luckily he was very understanding and we’re still good friends to this day.  Actually, when I posted my status on Facebook he commented that I forgot to write kind and gentle too.

Psych professionals are tricky.  They are use to looking at diagnosis and sorting people.  When I go to a hospital I’ve never been to before they almost always put me on the low functioning unit or intensive care because I have a history of psychosis.  They don’t know me as a person and how I am able to manage the psychosis.  Even they and sometimes especially them rely on stereotypes or what most people with my diagnosis act like.  Once they get to know me and I earn their respect, they treat me with dignity.  My question is why do I have to ear their respect why do I have to deserve being treated with dignity.  Isn’t that  how everyone should treat everyone until they have a reason not to.  In one of the most important places and people to get treatment we are often treated with contempt or just a diagnosis.

7 Responses to “My coming out story-the mental illness one”

  1. Joyce October 10, 2015 at 11:12 AM #

    By posting about mental illness, like you are now, is how we reduce stigma and promote awareness and dignity in mental health. You are doing something amazing.

  2. manyofus1980 October 10, 2015 at 5:43 PM #

    I agree, you shouldnt have to earn their respect, it should be a given, I’m glad you had a good experience of coming out on fb with your story. XX

  3. Joyce October 10, 2015 at 8:23 PM #

    Reblogged this on MAKE BPD STIGMA-FREE!.

  4. Trinity October 11, 2015 at 3:02 AM #

    Reblogged this on SometimesBipolar.

  5. Sandra October 11, 2015 at 2:34 PM #

    Keep writing. This is how people with mental illness will finally receive the dignity people with good mental health receive. And good for you for continuing to pursue university. You will disprove all the crap being said out there.

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