Sunday, 9 December 2012

Coming Out

Recently on Twitter I mentioned that I had been "coming out" to some people in my life about my BPD diagnosis. I've also started using my real name - Jess! - on Twitter and now on here for my blog posts.

This has been inspired, like so many aspects of my journey towards recovery have, by Debbie at Healing From BPD.

Reactions have varied, but whatever they have been, the first few minutes seem to be irrelevant as the person is usually just processing everything during this time. You need to explain it and give them a few moments to comprehend before you get the full measure of understanding and empathy that most people will offer.

In fact, so far there haven't been any "bad" reactions, just different ones. Anything from total surprise, to curiosity, to condolences. Interestingly though, a very common response has been the person then telling me about a loved one who also suffers from mental illness.

I have been genuinely taken aback by how many people already know someone they care about that struggles with mental health.

This shouldn't be surprising, as in Australia statistics are that 1 in 5 people will face a mental health challenge in any given year.

I believe that the more we are open and honest about the challenges we face, the easier we make it for other people who are facing similar challenges. Even for those who may never suffer from mental illness, statistics guarantee they will interact with people who do, and learning about one person can inform their caring and sensitivity towards another.

I also believe that there are benefits in naming a part of you and owning it for the world to see. There should not have to be any shame in suffering from mental illness, any more than there would be for having a heart condition or blood disorder.

Understandably, this doesn't mean anyone should have to shout their diagnosis from the rooftops, walk around in a t-shirt saying "ASK ME ABOUT MY BPD!!!" or begin every conversation they have with a disclosure of their mental health. I have chosen carefully who I am choosing to open up to and in what context. And if someone is just not up to talking about their mental health, then that is just fine too. Everyone is at a different point in their journey.

But no one with a mental illness has chosen to have that illness. We should all be proud of ourselves and the path we are traveling, because it is just a part of life that none of us are perfect. (Except you, dear reader!)

8 comments:

  1. "There should not have to be any shame in suffering from mental illness, any more than there would be for having a heart condition or blood disorder."

    Couldn't agree with you more, even though I myself am at a different point in my journey like you said...by the way, great blog!

    A fellow borderline blogger

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    1. I thought that it was really important to point out how we are all on different journeys each totally unique to ourselves and our experiences. I am sure there will be parts of my journey in the future where I will choose to be less open, and parts where I will share more, but they are all equally valid frames of mind to be in.

      So glad to see yet another fellow Borderline blogger! Our community is growing stronger each day! Am eagerly reading your blog as we speak, I already had a "ME TOO!" moment so you will probably have a few comments from me by the time you see this ;)

      Love, Jess

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  2. i think this is a great post :)

    together we are stronger and i think the support we can show one another online will be an awesome help to those just newly diagnosed.

    xoxoxox

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    1. Thanks so much Tess :) it means a huge deal to me to have a few smiley faces sent back to me writing this blog, thank you!

      I absolutely agree that all of us finding each other online and getting together the way we have can make a huge difference in people's lives. (It already has to mine!)

      Looking forward to many future chats and shares :)

      Love, Jess xoxox

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  3. So proud of you, Jess, and so humbled and honored to be an encouraging part of your journey! Thank you for mentioning me. :-). You have a very healthy, mature attitude toward all of this. I really *am* proud of you.

    I actually think some "Ask Me About My BPD" tshirts would be an awesome idea for an awareness event lol!

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    1. Your blog changed my life Debbie, and it has a wonderful habit of continuing to do so on a regular basis...

      Plus now I am starting the 31 Day Challenge, which hopefully you won't mind me doing some posts on as I progress, because I am already finding it so fulfilling!

      And yes the t-shirts would be a great awareness option, surely we will have some for any NYC-related events that might come up :D just saying!

      Love, Jess

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  4. Congrats, Jess!! :) When I was hospitalized, the nurse walking me through everything that never left my side assured me that everyone in the world has their breaking point, and there's no shame in it when we reach that. There's so much stigma for no reason...I'm starting to think there are more "mentally ill" people than not, you know? I've contemplated utilizing my skills (photography, web and graphic design) to design a website against mental illness stigma, but sort of lost my drive for it (as I do most things). Still something that remains in the back of my mind, though. But the best thing we can do is to educate those we can and hope for the best. I luckily haven't met with any negativity thus far.

    hugs,
    Mel
    http://so1aced.wordpress.com

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  5. I also reckon more people have a mental health problem at some point than those who don't. It's the same as physical health! Literally! Everyone's brain is different and has different genetic make-up, environmental factors, chemicals, hormones, etc. Mental illness is real and not anyone's fault. I am making it my business to spend the rest of my life being open about it :)

    And you should definitely use your awesome skills! You could set up a website to organise a support group in your area? That's what I and some girlfriends from my last DBT course did: www.BPDFriends.org Or you could do a website/blog focused on "myth busting" misconceptions about mental health. You could bust one myth a day or week :) whatever you put your skills to will be awesome. If you're not up to it at the mo I'm sure you might be down the track :) it all helps. Plus your blog is already awesome enough! Love, Jess xox

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