Having a mental illness is embarrassing

Among the many other bad things associated with having a mental illness, I deal with the embarrassment of it every day.

You have heard me talk about the stigma of having a mental illness many times before. You just don’t go around telling people you hear voices. Even something as socially acceptable as depression can cause people to treat you differently or judge you harshly.

When I lived in the U.S. I was on Social Security Disability for about ten years. But, I was very reluctant to tell people because they always asked what was wrong with me. Having a mental illness, that was bad enough that I couldn’t work, would oftentimes make people to think I was weak or I was just making excuses to get out of earning an honest living. They didn’t have to say anything, I could see it in their faces. So I would just tell people that I was a freelance web designer (which was partly true) and I work from home. It’s sad I had to lie, but I just couldn’t deal with the embarrassment.

Another thing that causes extreme embarrassment for me is my scars. I like to tell people I am proud of them, but the truth is I am too ashamed to tell people what they really are. In the past, when I have told people that I used to cut myself, they reacted in a very negative way. They want to know more and I have to reveal my mental illness to them. Meeting someone who is crazy is bad enough, but a crazy person who cuts himself? That’s too much information for a “normal” person to handle. Most people who I actually told the truth to didn’t want anything else to do with me.

So yes, it’s very embarrassing to have a mental illness. The only people that know about my “dirty” secret are close family members, and many of them still don’t understand to this very day.

Over the past few days I have received many comments from people saying how brave I am to talk about my mental illness so openly. I appreciate it very much, but you see, I still feel like a chicken. I don’t reveal my true identity, because if anyone who knows me personally, even family, were to read this blog, I would be ruined. Even though many of them know some details about my illness, they don’t know, for example, about my cutting or that I was sexually abused as a child. I am very careful what I tell people, even close family.

You can imagine how hard it was to reveal everything to my wife when we were dating online. I thought for sure I would never hear from her again. She revealed to me just the other day that even after I told her, she still didn’t realize just how bad my mental illness was until I started this blog. Most “normal” people would not understand just how deep it runs.

That is the main reason I never tell people I know.

I am embarrassed.

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22 thoughts on “Having a mental illness is embarrassing

  1. Don’t feel bad, I am embarrassed too. I just talked about my story on my blog, openly… no hidden names. If my family were to ever see it, I don’t know what would happen. However, I’m doing this to help people, and that is a good enough reason for me to take the risk.

    Never be embarrassed of something you can’t control doll… it’s not your fault.

      • Oh I know doll! I hope you didn’t take my post in a negative way. If it sounds negative I’m so sorry, it wasn’t meant that way at all! I re read it and I cringed a little. I sound so condescending.

        You WILL get over it, I promise. It WILL get easier, and you WILL be okay. Depression too shall pass my dear. It’s just a b**ch to get rid of. It’s like a roach, it takes a TON of effort to completely eradicate it, but a big shoe, a lot of bleach and a little elbow grease does the job just fine. 🙂

  2. I’m glad you are able to at least vent on here and open up. It’s hard to deal with illnesses and yes, I agree with you, it can be embarrassing.I deal with dyslexia, yes I agree, it’s no where close to your illness, but it’s still been very tough to live with. I’m embarrassed by it and I’m always afraid of how others will react to me. There are so many times I have such a hard time getting the right words out, it gets frustrating. If you ever are bored and want to read about dyslexia, I wrote a post on it under my healthcare category. I’m proud of you opening up on here and releasing some of your frustrations with it on here. I hope it makes you feel better and I wish you the best of luck.

    • Thanks for reading Nicole!

      I read your post about dyslexia and found it very interesting. It does feel good to open up and pour your heart out to your blog. You did a good job writing it and you should feel proud you were so honest.

      See you around!

  3. As you know- I was terrified when I started my blog. I chose to use my real full name and questioned whether I was crazy for doing so. But part of my reasoning was that it was the shame of the secret keeping that was holding me back. I’ve lived as a prisoner by my own choosing in order to protect others from feeling bad. I’m still petrified that the worlds going to come crashing down. But mostly, each day I feel a little freer. Give yourself time. You ARE brave just opening up here. So many here understand .

  4. Your site is nice and clear, easy to read. I think you’ve chosen well. I also think a blog is a great way to “let things out” and helps others understand what it’s like dealing with a big issue like illness, especially mental illness.

  5. At the end of the day, just the fact that you are talking about your condition is a massive step. My blog is nowhere near as personal as yours, and I only use my first name and haven’t told any of my friends or family about it. I’m scared they won’t accept what’s inside my head. So if you want to keep your identity secret, to allow you to fully express your feelings, then I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    • Thanks a lot for your support and your wonderful comments. I feel I am making a big step getting all of this pent up emotion out there for others too see. I know deep down all I want is a little acceptance.

      I hope to see you soon!

  6. Absolutely keep your identity a secret. Not because you should feel ashamed or embarrassed, but because you’ll be able to speak more freely. Put your name on and you’ll eventually screen your writing to fit the image you want to project. There’s honesty in anonymity.

    Keep blogging. 🙂

    • Thank you! I agree that its easier to be more honest when you are anonymous. I don’t want to hold back anything and I want to be free to write any way that makes me feel good.

      Thanks for checking in!

  7. Got here through the Zero to Hero theme challenge, and I really like the look of this theme – easy on the eye, easy to read, nice choice. I was just looking for themes, but I read this post and I’m hooked – anyone who’s working to find beauty and art in the deepest challenges is my fellow traveler. Of course it’s embarrassing, you know most folks have boat loads of assumptions that will limit their relationship with you, hesitating to open that up seems like a healthy response. While I don’t (think) I have mental illness, I do have heavy family history that I keep tucked over there, to share with the special people in my life. We have an evolving understanding of our own stuff, sometimes out and proud, sometimes safe and quiet – I’m glad you are out here with the rest of us.

    Here’s a link to the Ted Radio Hour I heard recently about a woman who began hearing voices and was diagnosed with schizophrenia – she became a physiologist and says we should be asking the following question of people with mental illness: it’s not what’s wrong with you, but what happened to you.

    She’s the third story down on the page. Cheers! http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/

    • Thanks for coming by and commenting challenge-mate!

      I love it when people read what I write and relate it to their own experiences. Thanks for sharing your point of view and the video link.

      I hope you come by again very soon.

  8. I really should doing more challenge. This Zero to Hero thing has make me find many great blogger. You are great. The way you start open your self up is indeed a big step. I guess there is nothing wrong with an anonymity as long as it could help us expressing ourselves. I also find writing a blog as a therapeutic way to calm my manic-depressif personality. Finding someone who use a blog the same way, is truly an amazing feeling. Thank you for sharing and I wish this thing will help us enjoy this life more fun and get through our day better and better.

    • Thanks for coming by. It’s amazing to me how many people tell me that it’s nice to find someone facing the same issues as they are.

      I tried to read your blog…..By the way, what language is that?

      Thanks for commenting! See you soon!

      • hahaha.. It’s in bahasa, from Indonesia (you’ve had heard a country name Indonesia, right? 😆 ). I often blog in English tho.. 😀

  9. Thanks for sharing this.

    It sounds like you have considered whether or not sharing your identity would be appropriate for you and your family, and made a decision based on that. I don’t think that’s cowardly, as much as allowing yourself an outlet.

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