going public with your diagnosisI wish I would have written down the exact date I decided to go public with my diagnosis, but I didn’t. I can only say that it was less than two years ago, and for me, it has been mostly positive. After two years I think I am in a position to address the pros and cons of coming out of the closet with a mental health diagnosis.

Pros:

  1. In many cases, people will display more compassion toward you if they understand that you have a mental illness.
  2. If you displayed negative or strange behavior in the past, some of those instances might be forgiven or looked at in a new way once people understand that symptoms of an illness may be the cause.
  3. In many cases, people will feel closer and more intimate to you after learning about your diagnosis. Sharing a deeply personal part of ourselves can make some people feel that they know us better.
  4. Some of the shame that often comes along with having a mental illness can lift by talking about the experience.
  5. You can grow your network of help and support. Some people will be able to help you manage your symptoms or offer you support once they know the circumstances surround your illness.
  6. Letting go of all the secrets can open up more positive experiences in your life. When we hold onto fear and negativity, those things tend to spread into other areas of our lives. Once you are open about yourself and your struggles fear and negativity may dissipate.
  7. It may help you release built up energy in a creative way. You may find that you are more able to express yourself.
  8. You may discover you are stronger than you ever imagined.

Cons:

  1. It is possible you will encounter discrimination, especially regarding employment.
  2. You will encounter some ignorant people, and you can either choose to ignore them or use the encounter to help educate them.
  3. Some people may feel a little uncomfortable at first.
  4. Some people may choose not to remain in a relationship with you.

Because my experience with “coming out” was mostly positive, I have good feelings about the process in general. I will be honest and say that I came out under the care and encouragement of a treatment professional. I also had the support of my spouse and my family. Taking such a big step is not one I recommend that someone do alone. I think it requires a great deal of support and caring people to make it a mostly positive experience. Also be aware that not everyone is kind and not everyone understands mental illness because of these realities you may run into a rough patch now and then but with the right support I believe it is possible to be stronger, happier, more open and increase your self-confidence and voice in this world.

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