For years….many, many years I kept my mental illness a secret. For many, many years, I lived in fear of someone finding out and judging me, abandoning me, or telling me it wasn’t true. And as long as I lived in that fear, there was no real way for me to help myself. The fear I carried around everyday prevented me from letting go enough to find the courage to move forward with treatment and find the support I needed. On some level I think I knew that, but never had the courage to do something about it.
Hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it?
This morning I was thinking about a friend who is moving far, far away who was my main source of support. To say I’m sad and will miss her is an understatement. For a long time, she was the only one who knew what was going on. And as I sat thinking, I realized something.
My mental illness….It’s not a secret anymore. It hasn’t been a secret for a long time, at least a year.
My support system has grown–more than I ever dreamed. All of my close friends know. My parents know. I have a lovely group of people one state over that know. I have people that I can joke about it with, and friends that will check in with me the next day if they know I had a rough time the day before. I have friends that know and accept they don’t understand, but are still there. I can talk about it without feeling like my heart is going to leap out of my chest.
No one has judged me. No one is pitying me. No one has changed the way they act towards me. No one has abandoned me. Instead there are a whole lot of people I’m much closer too.
I don’t have a secret anymore, I just have things that I’d like to keep private from those who don’t know me that well. Everyone does.
I still have a little bit of fear of what would happen if certain people would find out. I work for a nonprofit in a small, conservative town, where everyone knows everyone. And that has held me back from trying to make any real connections. Because for me, if I’m going to connect with you, I will end up telling you about my struggles. Good or bad, that is just the way things have to be for me.
But knowing that I don’t have a “secret” anymore, knowing that I have lots of people that will support me, knowing that I’m taking every step possible to help myself….
Well, that feels pretty damn good.