A lot of people keep their struggles with mental illness secret. They have good reason to – mental illness carries a lot of stigma. After my most recent brush with the mental health system, I decided I needed to come out of hiding, and do my little bit to make mental illness less of a foreign concept to the people around me.
It’s not easy. There are many people who will pass judgement on a person with mental health issues. There are people with some odd preconceived notions that will say some really odd things. There are people who won’t even try to understand.
But we can’t end the stigma from in hiding. Until people realise how many people there are living with mental illness, people like them, they won’t stop seeing mental illness as something that only happens to outsiders, people who are different and dangerous and crazy. If they can ask questions, and learn what mental illness is and is not, then maybe they can learn to accept people like me.
It’s going to hurt. People are going to think and say awful things. But I’m willing to accept that. Maybe I can make a difference, just a little one, by being out.