How I See Things

I find that making the diagnosis an albatross around your neck is unhealthy: you’re responsible for it if you magnify the impact it has on your life.

The only power the diagnosis has over you is the power you give it. The only power the stigma has over you is the power you give it.

You can put it in its place because it can become a small thing, just something you have, no bigger than that.

How I see it is that the illness is like my eye color or height, a genetic thing, a part of me. I would no more regret it or anything that happened in my life any more than I would regret having brown eyes or standing five feet tall in my bare feet.

You get over it or else you’ll be miserable the rest of your life. You find your own path to go on: the road to you. Like Paula Cole sang in the 1990s in “The Road to Me” the house and car are only steps along the way.

They’re not who you are and the illness is not who you are either.

I tell no one. I recommend you tell no one either except an intimate romantic partner.

It’s not often appropriate to blab about any illness or personal topic. You might feel a weight has lifted off your chest when you tell someone. Yet I don’t think it’s right or good to transfer the burden of that weight to someone else.

Once you tell, in a way, you’re responsible for your part in whatever the outcome is.

I say: tell only the people who have earned your trust and earned the right know.

Forget what I do. I’m luckier than most people. Not everyone with a diagnosis gets the star treatment in society. The risk is still great.

It’s always your choice. Do what you’re comfortable with.

Be a robust activist or go your merry way in silence. The choice is yours.

I decided to become a mental health activist because the cost of my silence was too high a price to pay: for myself and most of all for others in society who are denied treatment and thus denied the equal opportunity to succeed.

The untold cost of the loss of human capital in the world: in the cost of wasted lives: is too great for any of us to stand by and cower in the face of stigma.

If you fear the stigma, you have to examine what’s really holding you back.

The only thing to fear is the fear itself.

Find what gives you joy, and do that: because when you love the life you live nothing else matters.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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