If this blog followed any chronological order, this probably should've been my first post. However, if my life has taught me one thing it's that I don't follow any path.
Secondly, seeing as I write an entire blog about mental health, I've already overcame this hurdle. I can share my story of course but I want to focus on helping others in opening up to friends and loved ones.
For the sake of this blog, I'm going with the premise that you have been diagnosed.
Opening Up Checklist
In no specific order, here are a few ways to help the process along.
Accepting it yourself. To make it easier on yourself, it would be good if you accepted yourself before opening up to others. How do you feel about your situation? Are you ashamed, scared? Maybe worried about all the stigma that surrounds mental health. Luckily on the latter, we are living in the best time to open up about this. Show yourself some love, if you go into it with negative feelings towards yourself you may risk those feelings being validated by the negative reactions of others.
Finding the right moment or time. As with many things in life, I don't believe there is a right or wrong time for anything. You may never be ready to tell people that you're struggling and that's okay. You have to do what's best for you, I'll get into my story in a bit but trust me it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. It can be even harder if you are at square one and haven't been diagnosed yet but as mentioned earlier, I'm going to assume you've been diagnosed.
Who do you tell? This is entirely up to you. There's no manual on who you have to tell. You can start small with 1 or 2 people or maybe you want to get it all over with, telling everyone and anyone you've ever crossed paths with. Point being, it's your choice. I personally basically started with my mom and the web only grew from there. I asked her to tell the people I wanted to know that I wasn't ready to have the conversation with and I told my friends when I was ready.
How to tell them? Maybe you are a planner or you're like me and you wing it as you go. I feel like a broken record but it's entirely up to you, That is the main point I'm trying to get at. This is all your choice. It's your story to tell. If that means writing it down and reading it word for word do it! Practicing in front of the mirror, more power to you. Perhaps you just can't hold in all your feelings anymore and you just breakdown. (It feels good after trust me) What you tell them is again up to you but I would tell the truth. Being open and honest about most things in life is often the best. The more they understand the better for you.
Dealing with negativity. Thankfully, I've never dealt with this personally but it would be ignorant if I assumed everyone will understand and will be entirely supportive. There are still people who think mental illness is fake. It's just a 'weak mind'. Trying to educate them will always be a good shout but some people are just stuck in their ways. If this is the case then reach out elsewhere friends, family, online. There are so many people who will be there for you. Try not to give the negative ones the power they don't deserve.
So, how did I do it?
I'd have to rewind to when I was close to starting Cegep. I knew from a very young age that when I finished high school I wanted that to be the end of my schooling. Besides some advanced entrance exam that summer I never stepped foot in school ever again. It was one of those situations where I didn't know what I wanted but I was damn sure what I didn't want. How does an intelligent but yet so naive person pull this one-off? The ARMY!!! Someone who hates a schedule hates being told what to do and loves to be independent, what could possibly be a better fit.....? Exactly I've always been interested in all things war and still am to this day so it made sense to others. The ignorant side of me saw it as an out. It could shut everyone up around me that judged for not continuing school. At the same time deep down it was a sort of death wish. The irrational side of me wanted to join the army to die, have an out. The rational part knew that really isn't what would be in store for me. Being told what to do, following orders sounds just as bad as anything I could think of. Still, I was torn. I wasn't ready to tell anyone what was really going on. A few trips to the recruiting center later I found myself sitting in front of a screen taking a test to join the military. One of the few things in life I pride myself on is my intelligence. In what I know now remember as another life-changing subconscious decision, that little rational part of me chose to fail that test someday. All that "I want to die crap", wasn't realistic that's not what I was getting myself into and thankfully a little part of me knew that.
You may be wondering, what does that have to do with opening up? It certainly set the tone. I may have had a few chats here and there with my mom but it all really started when I was hopping from job to job. I remember being MISERABLE. Even to this day, there isn't a word in any dictionary that can describe what goes through my body when I'm unhappy at work. I went from warehouse job to warehouse job. I slowly started expressing myself to my mom, not telling her how I've always felt but letting her in on what working was doing to me mentally. 8 hours a day of finding and packing shipments with nothing but the thoughts in my head. It was torture. Finally, this little introvert found him working just 3 days as a receptionist at my mom's office. Answering phones and talking to people all day long, what's not to like? I knew I couldn't go on like this, emotions of 10+ years piling up inside.
It was on the way to her work on that third day that my life changed yet again, this time shaping who I am today. Driving with my mom to work on that third day, the timing didn't feel right because for me there's never a right time. What I knew was, it needed to be done. There I was bursting into tears and pouring my feelings and emotions into my mom like she'd never seen before and I've never done before. I've always been emotional but not like this. She had to pull over onto the side of the road. I was letting out years and years of pain. I opened up about depression, school, work. My time had come to come out emotionally. We still went into work that day but my mom being the incredible woman she is spent her day at work finding me someone who can get the help I needed at the time and halfway through that day we left her office and I went to seek help.
All of that to say, it took a long time for me to be able to open up, it took me to reach my absolute breaking point. Had that meltdown never happened and I continued to hold everything inside me I guarantee I wouldn't be here writing this blog today. I never got to follow the steps I laid out earlier. I never got to accept what was wrong with me. I don't even think I knew at the time. I've had the benefit of having a mom who has supported me every step of the way. That doesn't mean we always see eye to eye. We have had our fair share of arguments but when push comes to shove I'm thankful that I've got her to count on.
In the years that have followed all of this I can say, not everyone will understand you and how you feel but there are people out there who not only will be there for you but they may even also understand how you are feeling. So many of us struggle. To different degrees sure. Just remember, You Are Not In This Alone.
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” - Fred Rogers
- Thinking Mans Thoughts
I've created a Patreon for anyone who wants to help and support this journey I'm on. This isn’t about money nor will it ever be. I plan to blog as long as I have thoughts running through my head and stories to tell, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t help me in my situation. All support is appreciated but not mandatory. It's very awkward 'asking' for money especially when I don’t want it to come across like that is my intention.
If you've read all of that and still choose to support me, I will forever appreciate it