Clarity. We all need to talk about mental illness, celebrity or otherwise

I’ve been thinking a lot about the post I published yesterday about my inability to relate to Kristen Bell opening up about her anxiety and depression.

I don’t know why it struck me to write about my feelings, but I wrote them out and put it out there, and the more I thought about what I wrote, the more I began to disagree with myself.

Sure, it’s hard to relate to a celebrity because their lifestyles seem so dramatically different from the average person who struggles to pay bills or isn’t able to get appropriate mental health care because they don’t have insurance. But this lack of being able to identify with a famous person shouldn’t have any impact on my appreciation for their ability to share their story about overcoming mental illness and stigma.

I’m sure it took a great deal of courage for Kristen to open up in that interview, the same way our This Is My Brave cast members conjure up a certain amount of bravery to audition for, and then share their stories on stage through our shows.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I think what I was feeling had more to do with envy than of not being able to empathize with a famous person sharing their story of mental illness. I’m envious that a celebrity has a much bigger platform than we do, and therefore when they share their stories they immediately garner a TON more attention than we’ve seen for all the hard work our organization has done over the past three years.

One of my favorite writers once wrote about envy, and I found myself re-reading her words today. Glennon reminded me today that: Envy is just unexpressed admiration. It’s respect holding its breath.

I constantly need to remind myself that we need to focus on the important work we do and that when the time is right, I’m confident our organization will attract the attention of national media. In fact, it may begin happening sooner than we thought.

This is my life’s work now, this work of storytelling. My organization encourages individuals to share their stories to end the stigma. I have no right to say that a celebrity sharing her story is any less impactful than a member of my own community.

Kristen, blog reader Jill, and anyone else I may have offended from my post yesterday, please accept my apology. Thank you to all who join us in the effort to end stigma, celebrity or not.

Clarity. We all need to talk about mental illness, celebrity or not.

Making the Invisible Visible

Photo Credit: Mylla More via Compfight cc

I’ve always been the type of person who wanted to make the invisible visible. It’s just in my nature. Engrained in my being. A part of who I am. I am someone who wants to share where I’ve been so that others can learn and grow, the same way I desperately want to hear what others have gleaned from their life experiences. I crave this deep, intimate knowledge of people. When I open up to someone and they lean in and open up in response, I know I’ve found my people. Small talk makes my skin crawl.

When I meet someone for the first time though, small talk is inevitable. At first glance, no one would ever guess that I’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, I’d never know if the person in front of me had ever been so depressed they couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. So many of us live with these potentially, and often times, debilitating illnesses in our brains, and yet [Read more…]

Full disclosure

So in beginning this project I decided to consult with my husband to make sure that I had his full support. He knows that I have been wanting to do something like this for a long time, I just wasn’t at the right point in my life to be able to do it until now. I believe that I am a strong writer.  People have told me that I am an excellent writer actually. But in my opinion, there is one huge roadblock standing in the way of my blog becoming a success: full disclosure.

Coming out to the world and saying that you have bipolar is such a scary thing. There is so much stigma attached to the label of bipolar that it makes it almost impossible for most people to admit that they have the diagnosis at the risk of losing friends or losing their job. Future employment is probably the major reason my husband and I are nervous about unveiling my identity completely.

As an avid blog-reader, I myself know that unless a blogger shows their true identity and describes his or her life in detail and with pictures, their blog is not all that interesting or captivating. I want to be able to share without strings attached and at this moment this isn’t possible. Not without my husband’s approval and he did make a valid point when we talked this evening. He wants me to think about it more.

I’ve had what I would consider to be a successful career so far as a Recruiter and, although I’m a stay-at-home-mom right now to our two kids, I’d like to work again. I am easily described as a Type-A personality who craves challenges and goals to exceed, so I predict that there will be a time in the next couple of years that I will want to do some type of recruiting work and therefore I would need to be hired by someone. Whether that be a private client hiring me to do some freelance recruiting, or a company hiring me as a contract recruiter, it’s all I’ve known career-wise for the past 10 years and it is work that I do well and enjoy. So will coming out to the public that I am bipolar hurt my future chances of employment?

I guess in a sense I’m also wondering, “Will my diagnosis revelation change the way people in general feel about me as a person?” I really hope not. That would truly be sad.

Only time will tell. I’m going to consult a few more people who I respect given their situations surrounding bipolar disorder and disclosure, in addition to my parents and brother, to collect some opinions which will help me to make this very difficult decision.

Have you ever been scared to disclose to friends or colleagues/bosses that you are bipolar? How did you handle the decision?