4 reasons why I’m talking about mental health
1. Silence creates shame For many years, I remained silent about my mental health problems. I felt like I constantly carried a ‘dirty little secret’ and I lived in fear of it being discovered. In a way, I felt like I had something really ‘disgusting’ about me and this secrecy multiplied the shame I felt. Think of hiding mental health problems like covering wounds with bandages- they often need to be in the open air, or they fester. The shame I have felt is not deserved. I have a right to be treated with respect, understanding, kindness and to live an open life.
2. I want to live openly Talking about my mental health feels very exposing. It puts me a vulnerable position because I open myself up to rejection, stereotyping and shaming that are all too real reactions. But acceptance and compassion are real too. I’m glad that after every time I’m silenced or shamed I carried on speaking because when I have found people who listen, it has made made me realise that my shame isn’t deserved. It can take time to find people who you feel safe enough to talk to, but when I did it gave me a sense of belonging.
3. It makes others feel less alone Every time someone shares their story and it resonates with me, I am inspired to continue to share mine. I believe ‘me too’ is one of the most powerful sentences we have because it tells people that they are not alone in what they go through- this can be a huge relief! Since I started sharing my experiences on my blog and Twitter, Talking About BPD, I have had thousands of tweets from people saying they can relate to me and one another. This sense of community, built through shared experiences, enables people to feel more compassion towards themselves because they see themselves reflected in others. It’s often easier to feel compassion towards others than ourselves, but if we can see ourselves in others we might become more able to extend that compassion towards ourselves.
4. It breaks down stereotypes When I talk openly about my mental health people are often shocked because they don’t expect me to have mental health problems. I tell them that there is no personality type for a mental illness! Yet, the ‘face of mental illness’ in the media is not accurate and does not reflect the fact that mental health conditions can affect anyone. My main diagnosis is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and when I share my story, I show that I’m a sister, a a friend, primary school teacher, a masters student, a spoken word writer- and I have BPD. Anyone might have BPD, you cannot tell by looking. People with BPD are some of the friendliest, most caring, fun and creative people you could ever meet!
I would love you to join the conversation with me, Rosie, over at Talking About BPD, on Twitter @TalkingAboutBPD or at www.talkingaboutbpd.blogspot.co.uk. It would be great if you wanted to share your story with the growing number of voices talking about their experiences.