Years ago for my birthday my dear friend gave me this card.
I wonder about the mental and physical toll of bottling up who you are–and bottling up the truth about the illness. Stuffing down your feelings can’t be healthy because one day the lid will pop off and they’ll explode.
So much has been written about how churches try to convert gay individuals to acting as heterosexuals. Yet I might be the first person to write about the folly of squelching your personality when you have a mental health diagnosis.
Pretending to be someone you’re not over the long-term only leads to illness.
Yet it’s a mistake to conflate temperament with symptoms. For a lot of people with mental health conditions though we do worry about betraying our illness to others in how we act–especially if we have jobs and degrees.
As a professional told me years ago:
“When you’re high-functioning you’re aware that you’re different so the pain is greater.”
Really, if you have anosognosia thus don’t think you’re sick why would you be ashamed to think the CIA is after you? You wouldn’t. You’d be oblivious to the slings and arrows of stigma.
As a woman put it to me: “At home and outside–with friends and family–I can be myself and don’t have a filter. Yet who am I supposed to be at work?”
I’m writing about these things because no one else is and someone has to.
In the end the ethic of my memoir Left of the Dial boils down to this:
Dare to Be You–and you’ll be happier and healthier.