“Coming out” yay or ney?

Can you remember when you “came out” about your mental health illness?

Have you actually done it or do you keep it to yourself for fear of what others will say.

What factors prevent people from telling their peers about their illnesses?

I saw a post on twitter the other day from a young person who had just told a friend that she was suffering from depression I cannot imagine how hard that must have been especially as that age as the first thing people will tell her is that “you’re too young to be depressed!”

As we all know depression waits until you hit a certain age before it comes along (sigh)

It is such a difficult decision to make about telling people because of the lack of education and ignorance of others, especially those who have never suffered. Having to combat a mental health illness is tough enough but having to do it alone and hide it from loved ones or friends must be awful.

Speaking from my own experience I am happy to tell people that I suffer from depression because I am thick skinned enough not to give a shit about how other people perceive me anymore. Growing up and being called four eyes as well as other names will do that a person eventually.

As someone who has no friends in real life I guess it was easier for me, yes that is a sad fact of my life that the only friends I have are online but I am not the only person in this situation and I am bloody lucky that my wife is so supportive! (when I say I have no friends I do not mean Sheryl as she is my wife AND my best friend, but besides her there is no one) so I didn’t have the problem of coming out to them.

When I was coaching the boys football team I did explain to some of the parents about my depression, especially when I told them that I was quitting because I couldn’t cope with it anymore. Besides one person though not one of the parents from the team has been in touch with me since May when the team folded. In fact she has invited me to her house after my trip to the mental hospital on Thursday as she lives near by.

Do others not bother with me because I told them about my depression?

When I started this blog I had to decide if I wanted to do so anonymously or be open about who I am. I decided to not hide my identity because I wanted people to put a face and a real name to the person writing in the hope that they could identify with me better. That is not to say that blogging with anonymity is a bad thing, it was really just my own personal preference.

It made it easier for me to have my identity out there so that people could look at me and say “if he can do it so can I” but that is just how I work. I am big enough and ugly enough to handle the judgement and ignorance of others, well on my good days at least, and I can hold my head up high.

Mostly the reaction I got from family (those in the family who actually care anyway) was a concern about antidepressants but that mainly came from my uncle’s bad experience with them in the past. I don’t hear from my siblings or parents so the only family that ask about me are my great aunt Betty and my nans Jean and Evelyn as far as the rest of my family go I might as well not exist but then that was the case before I “came out” so it has nothing to do with my depression.

 

For others though it is not so easy and I feel so much sympathy with anyone in the situation of having to hide their illness from people. It must be even harder for those working and suffering as well and I must admit it is something that does worry me when the time comes that I feel ready for returning to that world. I have vowed to myself though that I will not hide it from anyone in the hope that I can inspire others to open up about it.

How has telling people affected you? Do you feel a sense of relief for telling people or has it made your life more difficult? I would love to know

 

20 comments on ““Coming out” yay or ney?

  1. Morning, interesting post. I’ve seen this question, and others like it asked a few times in the past also. Personally speaking there was no way I could hide things from my family once things got past a certain stage and i’d been hospitalised overseas aver having depression and anxiety for a few years.

    I think all the family knew about the anxiety due to the panic attacks, the psychotic episodes were quite a shock to them I have to say, but eventually they understood. Outside of a few members of family I have 1 friend who I met at a mental health day centre about 10 years ago, or maybe just over, so we can understand each other. We know about giving each other space, quite often we won’t call each other for weeks, but we both understand that and respect each others space. I think it’s difficult for others sometimes to understand that.

    Anyway all the best

  2. Pingback: “Coming out” yay or ney? | Mental Health, Politics and LGBT issues | Scoop.it

  3. Pingback: Coming out about mental illness « MADD Suspicions

  4. Morning Right Said Moose, That is a very good question! My immediate family where told straight away as I was hospitalised (suicidally depressed) I had the right to tell who I wanted taken away from me by 1 of my closet friends, she sat on her till at our local supermarket and told most people we knew where I was and that I had gone funny!!! Hence I have been called every name under the sun, nutter etc…I like you do not have friends anymore due to more prejudice later I can cope just about with it from strangers but not people I hold dear!! I have my family,OH and daughter and that’s good enough for me. One thing 16 years down the line that is a positive from it all is I am a much stronger person now 🙂 on a lighter note I am just about to play Deeply Dippy are you ready….shell:)

  5. Telling people, both family and friends, has made me stronger in that I know I can face the stigma and live through it, but also I know who I can trust and who I can’t so much better now. Some things weren’t a surprise to people, but others were. And some of the reactions to those things weren’t easy to handle. My blog (and my book published a few years back) is on my own name purposely because I want to do what I can to reduce stigma. But I recognise that for a lot of people being able to do this is either unlikely or even not safe, and I completely understand that. One day though I hope for a world where it is safe to talk about this stuff openly. That will be a good day. 🙂

  6. Great post. I also decided to blog with my real identity and photos, because a) that was the advice I found online from bloggers I respect b) I wanted to do it in the scariest way possible (which sounds odd), this is about me opening up about my experience so that others may find it easier, and really trying to contribute to eliminating the stigma. it might bite me in the arse later on, (hope not) but if it does, then so be it. it’s worth every minute talking to you guys on Twitter and starting the conversations with those that can relate.

  7. Like you, I’m estranged from my family. Also I too have only online friends – apart from one awesome person, who has always been there for me. He’ll give me a bollocking if I start feeling too sorry for myself, which to be honest is just what I need at times! This guy has unbelievable patience and understanding, and I’d be lost without him for sure.

    As far as ‘coming out’ is concerned, my choice was not to hide it as it would only add to the stress. However I can totally understand why some people would rather keep it to themselves. I guess it all comes down to how well you can cope on your own. Me? I couldn’t do it alone.

  8. Am I really terrible? I read all the time about people and groups coming together to “overcome the stigma of depression.” Honestly, I have never felt any stigma or discrimination directed at me as a result of my undergoing treatment for depression. The dictionary defines stigma as: shame, disgrace, dishonor and humiliation. I feel none of these emotions and will not tolerate anyone else equating me with one who should.
    Up to 15 percent of patients with cardiovascular disease and up to 20 percent of patients who have undergone coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery experience major depression.
    I didn’t cause my heart attack — well not deliberately—and I most definitely did not set out to become depressed.
    My depression was not a means to seek attention; the heart attack got me all the attention I needed. As a matter of fact the heart attack got me too much attention, especially from a loving partner, who watched my food and drink intake like a keen eyed hawk. Swooping hawk-like to pluck any morsel, which did not pass her rigid health assessment, from my craving hands.
    Nobody ever set out on a deliberate path to experience the darkness of depression. To lie for hours hugging a wet pillow, not understanding the imbalance of chemicals in your brain, a chemical disproportion that will not allow you to stop sobbing. I have never set out, nor have I ever invited people to comment on my mental state in a Sotto voce attempt not to hurt my feelings. I suffer from a mental illness, I don’t hurt people intentionally, and I have never robbed, or set out deliberately to harm anyone. Ok, so at times I feel down and at times I cry and at times my hand will shake for some un-known reason. Why should I feel a stigma about this?
    I have carried out many acts in my life for which I am ashamed, for which I should be disgraced, for which I should be humiliated but suffering from depression is not one of them.

      • Depression is a big deal; it is bloody hard enough to live with, without having to suffer the slings and arrows etc., of those who will stigmatize you. If a friend lets you down and vanishes the moment you openly say that you suffer from a mental illness, is that really such a great loss?
        On two occasions in my life I have had friends who disappeared like rabbits down a hole. The first occasion was when my wife and I separated. The wives of close friends of ours, no doubt afraid that their saintly husbands might catch the separation bug, instigated a lock-down the hatches procedure, in order to keep their own husbands infection free. Unfortunately the bug must have lain dormant in one of the husbands, for some years later he was hit by the same curse, which had befallen me.
        The second occasion, which caused me to lose friends, was when I was diagnosed as suffering—I love that term, suffering— with depression.
        You see some people must honestly believe that depression is airborne. It can definitely be picked up while talking to someone who is a sufferer. “Well not that we were ever very close, in fact I always knew he was a bit odd, and let’s be honest it doesn’t do much for one’s own reputation to be seen to be too close, with those who are less than the accepted one hundred percent.”
        To suffer from depression is an illness, similar to suffering from diabetes or hearing loss. It happens to people, so force others to get over their fear and prejudices, do not allow anyone to make you feel ashamed, do not allow anyone to make you feel any worse than you feel already. Remember someday you will be better, you will no longer be depressed, and you will be happy, content and unafraid, while they will unfortunately still be bigots.
        — Talk soon.
        Ger

  9. Telling people is very difficult as they usually don’t understand (unless they’ve been through a similar thing) and can sometimes make things worse with the “cheer up”, “get over it” type comments! I think you’ve done so well with this blog, especially as you are so open about everything AND have revealed your real identity. I can’t do that as I am pretty sensitive so wouldn’t be able to deal with the negative comments/judgments of people I know, and there are also things I blog about that I don’t want people in my “real life” knowing! x

  10. I can remember telling my GP three-years ago that I thought I had some form of depression and I felt myself welling up at that moment. Both my parents had suspected something for many years and, it wasn’t until my sister came out with her panic attacks and anxiety that my mum said she would’ve expected that of me, but not my sister.

    But still, I don’t find my parents to be very understanding. My dad asks questions like “Are you depressed?”, to which I get frustrated and I cannot be bothered to even answer. Mum tells me “not to come home miserable” or to “come home happy”, despite claiming to have been through difficult psychological times herself.

    I’ve been fortunate to meet a couple of bipolar women through internet dating who are more understanding but, there’s is sometimes only so-much that one person can take, with their own suffering.

    Counselling has helped over the last two months but I still find it difficult to be completely honest in those situations. Last week, I fired off a long e-mail to my counsellor trying to be more honest and I need to re-read and reply to their response. Sometimes, I feel like I ‘crave’ a clearer diagnosis (bipolar, etc.), just so that I feel I will have a better direction of where I am headed and how I can recover or learn to live with this.

    As a diagnosis on its own, ‘depression’ can sound very vague (in my mind, anyway).

    It’s not something that I could open up about to people at work and I fear that family not in my immediate vicinity may not understand (especially the older generations)..

    PS. I bought paperback copies of both of your books last week and they should arrive soon! 😉

  11. Pingback: Bipolar Women | Is Bipolar Hereditary

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