Today is the two year anniversary of my coming out with my diagnosis of schizophrenia. I kept the details of my mental illness secret, along with my husband, for almost twenty years.
I can’t tell anyone that it is safe and there will be no negative consequences for opening up about issues of mental health. I can say that for me, it has turned out well. I am no longer in the workforce, though (I am a freelance writer) so the possibility of losing my job is not of concern to me. It is true that stigma still exists, especially for people with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. There is still a lot of ignorance and the need for education, but things are changing.
I will write more about the progress we have made as a community and the recent setbacks we have experienced later in the week. My motivation for today was to post here about this milestone in my life. I don’t regret coming out of the shadows or closet with my story. I think it is important to say I didn’t go “public” alone. I had the support of an excellent psychiatrist, some wonderful writers and mentors and my husband.
If you are struggling with opening up about your illness, my recommendation would be to seek professional help and guidance before you make your decision. The results seem simple: accept me or don’t accept me, but the impact of rejection can influence the overall mental wellness of the person exposing such personal information (being that vulnerable publicly).
My wish for us all on my anniversary is that there is a day when we can all be open and honest with who we are and find love, acceptance, and the ability to pursue our passions and livelihood.
Here’s to those of us doing the best we can with illnesses that impact every area of our lives – keep on keeping on and cheers!