Look Ma, I have anxiety!

The push to be open about our mental illness has become a rather prominent topic on blogs these days. I read a post the other day where a fellow sufferer said she told every one she met she had mental illness, usually within the first few minutes of meeting them. I’m all for pride, truly I am, but mental illness is not some parlor trick you pull out at a party. I don’t hide my mental illness and I am damn sure not ashamed of it, but I don’t go screaming it from rooftops either. I will not go around telling every person who will listen that I am emotionally unstable. I don’t go up to people at parties and reveal that I need to check my bed three times on each side before I sleep or else I will die.  When I choose to tell people I am mentally ill it is because I am comfortable with them, it is because I want them to see I am just like they are. I don’t wish to be defined by my mental illness and I am not ashamed of it either. There is a balance to be achieved here. When people find out I am mentally ill I want them to see me for the strong and capable person I am. My scars are not conversation starters, they are silent reminders of my survival. My depression shouldn’t gain me pity, it should show how strong I am for getting up each morning and facing another day.

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20 Comments

March 13, 2014 · 2:01 pm

20 responses to “Look Ma, I have anxiety!

  1. Agreed. There is no shame in being mentally ill, but to wear it like a badge is counter-productive. Mental illness is not a person’s major identifying characteristic. There are a lot more things I can do or say that show people around me who I truly am as a person.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If people ask me about it I’ll tell them what they want to know. Other than that, it’s the kinda thing that makes people look at you funny so I tend to keep my mouth shut,

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  3. Agree, agree, agree :)

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  4. “My scars are not conversation starters” <—- This is SUCH A GOOD LINE.

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    • I was just reading about oversharing and thought of you and this line. It’s seriously such a good line. (The article I was reading: http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/personal/03/29/o.beware.the.overshare/ ) I definitely struggle with Emotional Strumpet Tendencies, not out of manipulation or anything, I just overshare. Trying to be more mindful of it.

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      • Thanks so much for the article! I have met maaany emotional sluts in my life, some harmless and some not so. It’s good to keep an eye out for it. You don’t seem like you overshare too much, just that you have a big heart and lots to tell. :)

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      • Awww thanks. :) I worry mostly about social situations, when I’m meeting people for the first time. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, where it’s like, “Hi I’m Chloe, I can’t drive anywhere because I had a seizure because of a new antidepressant I was on because I’m bipolar *deep breath* and also last year was the shittiest year of my life because of reasons that are too hard to explain so you should probably just go read my blog.” *awkward silence*

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  5. pennylaneseriously

    Well said.

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  6. Thank you for your wise words on this topic. I tend to err on the side of openness, but not on first acquaintance.

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  7. It occurs to me that when I say you “come out” as mentally ill, people might start to think of mentally ill people as a minority that needs to be represented, like Afro-Americans or the LGBT community. The difference is that mentally illness, while not being something to be ashamed of, isn’t something to be proud of either. It’s something you want to get rid of, if you can, or at least learn to deal with. It’s a disability. It IS something we need a cure for.

    …ok, so now I know what my next video’s going to be about. :D

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  8. Amy

    Very well said! It really is a balancing act. I don’t want to be defined by my mental illness, nor do I want anyone to feel sorry for me or to think I use my illness as an excuse to act any way I want. There is a time and place when disclosing mental illness is a wise choice, and I do so when the need arises. Sometimes I have had to reveal my diagnosis as a way to explain something I said or did. Other times I confide in someone when I realize they are going through something similar, as a way to show them they are not as alone as they feel. That is the main reason I began blogging about mental health, because I wanted to reach out to those who were struggling with the same kind of things I do. But in my day to day life, I don’t go around with a big sign over my head listing what is going on inside my head. I’m all for fighting stigma, but sometimes we have a way of making it worse instead of better.

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  9. This is a really interesting point. There’s a big campaign on in the UK at the moment about breaking stigma called ‘Time to Change’ which emphasises talking (fantastic campaign IMO btw) but there’s a danger of labelling and defining that comes with it. It shows how far we have to go to tackle these issues that we have to say ‘it’s OK to talk about it’. Still, it’s a starting point and maybe once it’s become normalised to talk about at all, people will be able to see the complexities.

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  10. Amazing post. That last line should be on bumper stickers. I’ll order three.

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  11. Great post. I agree with every word. I’m not ashamed, but It is a difficult act of balance at times however. Do I? Don’t I? I usually don’t unless another brings it up. I’m the social misfit kinda gal. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Pingback: Openness and Stigma in Mental Health | No More Drama!

  13. This post made me get my thinking cap on and I quoted you in a post riffing off of this one – I hope that’s OK. I linked back to your blog.Thanks for the inspiration :)

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