A conversation the other night got me thinking, why do I hide the ‘crazy’? Why do I find it so hard to simply embrace the side of myself that others might not accept and let it all hang out so to speak.
I hide my depression, my slightly obsessive side, the anxiety….I hide them from the world and try to hide them from myself when possible in order to be ‘normal’. Everyone must do this to a certain extent to be able to get along in the world but when it takes me to the point where it’s easier to hide from everyone, I know it’s not healthy. I feel myself slipping back into bad habits, avoiding shopping when it will be busy, not making eye contact with people, wanting to listen to music when out walking rather than being able to hear what’s going on around me. I have to stop these things before they get out of hand and I end up having to have someone take me out into the real world and help me overcome panic attacks when going for a pint of milk again.
So, back to the question in hand. If I know that almost everyone has these problems at some point in their life, why do I feel the need to hide the fact from the world at large? The answer is simple, I am embarrassed by them and I am scared people will not like me.
I know that some people will judge me if they know about the issues I have due to the stigma that accompanies them. Perhaps it is because they do not understand mental health problems, perhaps it is because we have always been told to ‘pull yourself together’ when low or anxious, but whatever the reason I know that the stigma is there and the idea of people judging me in that way scares me more than I would even admit to myself in the past.
This shame cycle annoys me more than I can put into words, if I could get rid of this reflex from the way my mind works I would be a much happier person and would probably not have the problems that make me ashamed of myself! I’m working on it though and this blog is part of that. I may still be selective in the people I show this to but it’s a start and I am proud to be part of this community where people can be so open about their lives. We have made a start in getting rid of the stigma and just like in our recovery, the first baby steps will be the hardest but the ones we look back on with the most pride.