When you keep a secret for a very long time one of two things seems to happen when it comes time to let the secret out. One, you let it all out at once or two, it seeps out piece by piece.
When I began sharing my experiences with mental illness, it seeped. I needed to let it all out, but frankly it's scary do be that vulnerable and expect people to understand, regardless of how much they love and support you. Especially when one day you seemed perfectly fine, and the next you're a slobbery mess hiding in the back of your bedroom closet.
Often times I find myself writing a blog post about current health issues (whether mental or physical) and after looking it over I immediately think of the people who I know I can't trust. People who put guilt on me for my conditions, or don't believe me at all. People who will offer unsavory advice or will say things that could actually make my illnesses worse. And before I click post I ask myself, "Am I ready for the onslaught should it come?"
The cons are huge if I'm not ready for it. And there have been moments in the past when I have not been ready for it. When I first started openly discussing depression and OCD online, I felt free for the first time in years. Readers online understood me and suddenly I didn't feel alone. That was until I got a text from a family member who had been told about my internet activity and was lead to believe that I was suicidal and trying to eat myself to death. I was ridiculed and told that I needed to suck it up, lose weight and essentially get over myself.
But I'm okay. I survived, and lived to educate one more person.
Sometimes the risk is worth it. Other times it can be painful. Stigma is one of the reasons people with invisible illnesses are forced to be silent as well.
But there is freedom in sharing information about your health. For years I didn't know what was wrong with me. I was always in pain and symptoms seemed to be attaching themselves to me like magnets. As I began to talk about my condition online, people began responding with "You should get checked for _____" and listed a bunch of conditions. Fed up with doctors trying to diagnose me for this or that and medicate me for their assumptions, I went in and said, "Test me for _______".
It's because of readers here that I finally reached my diagnosis of fibromyalgia. It's because of readers here that I'm on a path of healing and management and looking toward the future instead of dwelling on the past and stuck in the present.