Sometimes (perhaps if and when we are so lucky) there comes a time and a need to tell some (perhaps unsuspecting) soul about the things we think, the things we feel, the things we hear, the meds we may or may not take. My hunch is that it’s a conversation that some of us have practiced and that others have for the first time each time. Maybe there are long versions and short versions we tell. Maybe it’s something some of us have done more than a few times and something some of us have never really done.
To whom, when, and how do you come clean?
Regardless of the differences, it’s not easy. And wrapped up in its difficulty are fears and misconceptions and persistent stigma and questions of responsibility. Compounding that difficulty is the understanding that this conversation crosses multiple thresholds, all of which constitute points of no return. Nothing said can ever be unsaid — and whether it’s with a friend or colleague or someone we’re starting to date, if a relationship will change after mental illness is disclosed, it will stay changed. We cross our fingers and hope for the best.
As I wrote “…and hope for the best,” I realized I have spent most of my adult life not knowing what it is that I’m hoping for in that conversation, not knowing what I thought the “best case scenario” really looks like. And, so I want to ask: What is it you hope for when you come clean?
To take that question just a tad further, For whose benefit do we talk about our illnesses? And what do you personally gain from it?