Hi. My name is Christine and I am mentally ill
There is something really liberating about being “out” about my mental illnesses. I gave a lot of thought before I went public four years ago. One friend pointed to television journalist Jane Pauley: “Look what happened to her after she went public.” I was putting my career on the line, others reminded me — not to mention any hope of ever getting a date.
I mulled it over. I had been in my career for about 25 years and was successful and was well-established. My parents had both died of cancer and unfortunately, I had become estranged from my brother and sister. My father was an only child and our family had moved away from my mother’s brothers and sisters when I was a child. I hadn’t seen or talked to aunts, uncles and cousins in decades.
I have very good friends who I knew would have my back. I was not married or in a relationship. Most people who had known me for any length of time — especially those who drank with me — knew I am an alcoholic and had been sober for years.
My biggest concern was my daughter. I talked with her about my going public. She was 14 years old at the time but wise beyond her years. She did not mind me writing about my depression and bipolar disorder but she was not comfortable with me disclosing my alcoholism. About three years later, she changed her mind, and I went public with my alcoholism.
When I weigh the advantages and disadvantages of going public — and wonder what my life would be like today had I kept my mental illnesses secret — I know I made the right decision … for me. I cannot count the number of people whose paths I would not have crossed had I not gone public. I have made so many friends and deepened so many friendships because I am open about my depression, bipolar disorder and alcoholism.
Going public is NOT something I recommend. For many, going public could be disastrous, not only for their relationships and careers but for their own mental health. I share my experience but I never — ever — encourage, judge or berate someone in her decision about going public. Our health is a private matter.
Besides, I couldn’t have kept my mental illness a secret. I suck at keeping my own secrets and telling half-truths and white lies. It’s too much work. Today I am all about the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Stapleton, C. (2010). Hi. My name is Christine and I am mentally ill. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/depression/2010/03/hi-my-name-is-christine-and-i-am-mentally-ill/