Every time I blog, I’m opening myself up to be vulnerable. Every time I tell someone about my mental illness, I’m showing them a vulnerable part of me. I’ve been told I can hide it well, that people would never have guessed that I live with a mental illness. Because I’ve learned over the years that just because you tell someone something doesn’t mean they are going to understand it or will treat you the same. Even though the only thing that has changed is them being aware of my illness. I’ve seen it in people’s eyes, the “ohhh, she says she has anxiety” look. And then a piece of me regrets telling them…I regret being vulnerable. Letting my guard down, only to have it thrown back in my face.
Don’t get me wrong, society has come a long way when it comes to talking about mental illness and mental health. Where I believe the problem lies is in what happens after that…after someone has been vulnerable and shared their current or previous diagnosis and struggles. They encourage us to share our story…but then what…there aren’t near enough proper supports in place for what happens after that. Woohoo you’ve told your deepest darkest secret and yet you are STILL constantly having to prove, legitimatize, disclose, validate that you actually have this invisible illness, even though you already have.
After an extremely long week, I sit here typing away because I’m angry, I’m annoyed, I’m frustrated, I’m upset and I’m vulnerable. It’s not easy to tell people your story. I’ve learned to be very picky when it comes to telling people about it because you never know what is going to happen after. I’m 27… been fighting this fight since I was 17. I’ve lost friends because they think I’m unreliable and flakey. I’ve lost jobs because working full time is hard, and missing work for CBT appointments and appointments with my psychiatrist isn’t okay in some places. I’ve been the “forgotten friend”, I’ve been the “flakey employee”, I’ve been the “student who sits in the very back of the class”, I’ve been the “girl who cries all the damn time”, I’ve been the “girl who writes her tests somewhere else”, I’ve been the “girl who doesn’t go to class”, I’ve been the “girl who cries in the bathroom” at her job, I’ve been the “girl who is always deep in thought”. I’ve been all those things and more! Do you know why I’ve been all of those things? Because I’ve been vulnerable. Because I know what it feels like when you open up to someone and they actually get it. There is a sort of calmness that comes over you when you know you’re okay to be vulnerable with them. When you know they won’t judge you for being you.
Sometimes being vulnerable leads you to beautiful things, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it comes back to bite you in the ass. Big decisions are in my future, and if I’ve learned anything over the years it is that I have to do what is right for me.