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    Our forum members are people, maybe like yourself, who experience mental health difficulties or who have had them at some point in their life.

Coming out online about mental health

W

WordsInfluence

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Have you come out online? What was helpful about it and what were the cons? Would you do it again?

i’ve always kept my mental health issues close to my chest aside from a few people. I disclosed at work once and got the accommodations I needed but was treated differently afterwards.

I’m thinking of writing about some experiences in my life that relate to my health and I’d like to get published, but it’s basically some form of disclosure ie at least a statement that I have anxiety, depression and PTSD. I have a few other conditions but I don’t see a reason or need to name them all. I could change the story details to mask myself and use a fake name but I don’t think that’d be very satisfying for me.

long story short, my PTSD stems from a trauma and I think writing about the trauma would help me deal and take ownership. my therapy isn’t cutting it. But definitely concerned about disclosing online when it comes to being cyber bullied or having trouble finding jobs etc. my therapist and I still haven’t decided the best path for me.
 
Lunar Lady

Lunar Lady

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Hi,

This is the only place where I don’t have to always be “fine thanks...how are you?” To have somewhere that I can be open with internal struggles has really helped me. I feel heard and supported - something which is missing in my daily life.

I think I also have a growing understanding of my own MH issues and don’t feel so alone any more. Having a caring community here that has shared experiences is extremely positive.

If you are writing these experiences as a biography, you need support. Our brains do not differentiate between a memory and a current event so recalling trauma will automatically manifest strong, emotional reactions. My suggestion would be to do this alongside therapy and not alone.

I hope we can offer you the friendship and support here that is helping so many of us to grow, heal and recover. X
 
JessisMe

JessisMe

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For myself I would never consider writing an identifying article online regarding my mental health issues. For us it might be understandable but for those on the outside of mental illness there can be a lot of fear, stigma and lack of understanding regarding mental illness in general.
And it is likely that using a general search using your name associated information like any articles you have written and published online would come up. This would make you vulnerable to the harsh prejudices of others who might act fearfully based on what they do not know about the illnesses that you struggle with. It may be seen as a liability to potential employers, etc... If you would like to write an identifying article that details your mental health struggles why not do it here where you are safe among people of like kind?
 
W

WordsInfluence

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For myself I would never consider writing an identifying article online regarding my mental health issues. For us it might be understandable but for those on the outside of mental illness there can be a lot of fear, stigma and lack of understanding regarding mental illness in general.
And it is likely that using a general search using your name associated information like any articles you have written and published online would come up. This would make you vulnerable to the harsh prejudices of others who might act fearfully based on what they do not know about the illnesses that you struggle with. It may be seen as a liability to potential employers, etc... If you would like to write an identifying article that details your mental health struggles why not do it here where you are safe among people of like kind?
Yeah, these are some of the many reasons i have reservations about public disclosure. The ramifications are very real, as are the benefits. I should mention one of my conditions is autism, and by nature maintaining secrets and not speaking the truth is incredibly difficult for me, so hiding my disabilities my whole life eats at me all the time, and it's getting much tougher as I've grown older.

The trauma I'm writing about--the root of my chronic PTSD--is unique and if I write about it here or elsewhere, just the facts alone will probably give away my anonymity to anyone who is savvy with online research. It's a unique case and there's no hiding who I am, to tell you the truth. While I'd like to think I wouldn't be judged for it here, I actually wrote about it on another forum once but muddied the details heavily to not risk being found out, and the people there called me a troll and told me I was making the whole thing up. The whole experience was harmful for me, and because I distorted the facts of my trauma enough to conceal my identity, I also got no benefit or relief that typically comes with speaking the truth about trauma in a safe space.

I've actually had tons of really heart-breaking experiences within mental health sub-communities and support groups, and it's one of many topics I'd like to write about. Finding solidarity is very difficult for many of us especially because every person with mental health disabilities is unique. It's something that, I think, sets us apart from other oppressed groups that have a relatively easier time finding solidarity, and unlike those groups, like racial and ethnic minorities, we deal with chronic disease.

I should add that since these things aren't mutually exclusive, it's key to acknowledge the challenges that racial and ethnic minorities face, especially those within those groups who also suffer from disabilities. Those people should all be awarded medals just for surviving in this country. I'm a white male and I have the luxury of white privilege.
 
JessisMe

JessisMe

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Yeah, these are some of the many reasons i have reservations about public disclosure. The ramifications are very real, as are the benefits. I should mention one of my conditions is autism, and by nature maintaining secrets and not speaking the truth is incredibly difficult for me, so hiding my disabilities my whole life eats at me all the time, and it's getting much tougher as I've grown older.

The trauma I'm writing about--the root of my chronic PTSD--is unique and if I write about it here or elsewhere, just the facts alone will probably give away my anonymity to anyone who is savvy with online research. It's a unique case and there's no hiding who I am, to tell you the truth. While I'd like to think I wouldn't be judged for it here, I actually wrote about it on another forum once but muddied the details heavily to not risk being found out, and the people there called me a troll and told me I was making the whole thing up. The whole experience was harmful for me, and because I distorted the facts of my trauma enough to conceal my identity, I also got no benefit or relief that typically comes with speaking the truth about trauma in a safe space.

I've actually had tons of really heart-breaking experiences within mental health sub-communities and support groups, and it's one of many topics I'd like to write about. Finding solidarity is very difficult for many of us especially because every person with mental health disabilities is unique. It's something that, I think, sets us apart from other oppressed groups that have a relatively easier time finding solidarity, and unlike those groups, like racial and ethnic minorities, we deal with chronic disease.

I should add that since these things aren't mutually exclusive, it's key to acknowledge the challenges that racial and ethnic minorities face, especially those within those groups who also suffer from disabilities. Those people should all be awarded medals just for surviving in this country. I'm a white male and I have the luxury of white privilege.
I’m so sorry to hear that you were chastised for sharing your story with other mental health groups. I have been with this group just since this past February. Everyone is very nice, supportive and understanding. The site is also heavily moderated for poor behavior. For these reasons I believe that if you were to share your story here you would feel welcomed by the reception. Anyway it’s an option that may help. xo, j
 
W

WordsInfluence

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Messages
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Location
USA
I’m so sorry to hear that you were chastised for sharing your story with other mental health groups. I have been with this group just since this past February. Everyone is very nice, supportive and understanding. The site is also heavily moderated for poor behavior. For these reasons I believe that if you were to share your story here you would feel welcomed by the reception. Anyway it’s an option that may help. xo, j
Thanks. For now I’d just like to know the good and bad of public health disclosure. I’m at a point in my life where I’m tired of staying silent. But I’m sensitive and the emotional abuse is very real. I try to limit my social media time and if I disclosed I’d probably close all my accounts entirely. The challenges to getting work are tough. Luckily, I worked hard for 16 years and saved a lot so I don’t need to work now, which is good cause I lost my job in a downsizing recently anyway. Part of me aspires to become an advocate and writer, even if that life is tough emotionally and financially.
 
JessisMe

JessisMe

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Thanks. For now I’d just like to know the good and bad of public health disclosure. I’m at a point in my life where I’m tired of staying silent. But I’m sensitive and the emotional abuse is very real. I try to limit my social media time and if I disclosed I’d probably close all my accounts entirely. The challenges to getting work are tough. Luckily, I worked hard for 16 years and saved a lot so I don’t need to work now, which is good cause I lost my job in a downsizing recently anyway. Part of me aspires to become an advocate and writer, even if that life is tough emotionally and financially.
Wonderful impulse to have and very brave.
The field of mental illness needs all the advocates it can get and it sounds like you might be in a good position to serve this role should you choose. xo, j
 
jajingna

jajingna

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There's a reason they asked us to use a nickname here. I was thinking of that quote "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

Talking can be good. I think it can be dangerous too, sometimes. Once I was in a group in uni talking about heavy personal stuff with two young coaches, a guy and a girl. There were a bunch of us young people, strangers all, revealing deeply intimate things, like fears you don't acknowledge you even have until the words spill out somewhere. This group session stuff, once a week for some weeks, was harmful to me. I got ill shortly after and that was a rough summer. I'm certain those few sessions untangled stuff that was better left tangled. When you've had a tremendous amount of trauma in your life, it's very delicate or fragile, and how and when and if you open up about any of it, is risky. It's safer anonymously online amongst thousands who are like-minded, but in person it is scary for both speaker and usually for listener. That vulnerability is a tightrope for many of us. It may be unwise to just dive right in like we did in those sessions, thinking it beneficial, and at least one of us being more wounded from our exposure instead.

So the mass of men... they bury it mostly, though it leaks out anyway and is there no matter what, making them neurotic because of the ideal of a normal that does not exist. And people will pay good money to talk to professionals behind closed doors, maybe in a secret location, the shame of experience coloring everything, being buried almost a little in drink or food or whatever, cell phones and fantasies, desperate for a connection their lives do not contain.
 
W

WordsInfluence

Active member
Joined
Jan 21, 2020
Messages
35
Location
USA
There's a reason they asked us to use a nickname here. I was thinking of that quote "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

Talking can be good. I think it can be dangerous too, sometimes. Once I was in a group in uni talking about heavy personal stuff with two young coaches, a guy and a girl. There were a bunch of us young people, strangers all, revealing deeply intimate things, like fears you don't acknowledge you even have until the words spill out somewhere. This group session stuff, once a week for some weeks, was harmful to me. I got ill shortly after and that was a rough summer. I'm certain those few sessions untangled stuff that was better left tangled. When you've had a tremendous amount of trauma in your life, it's very delicate or fragile, and how and when and if you open up about any of it, is risky. It's safer anonymously online amongst thousands who are like-minded, but in person it is scary for both speaker and usually for listener. That vulnerability is a tightrope for many of us. It may be unwise to just dive right in like we did in those sessions, thinking it beneficial, and at least one of us being more wounded from our exposure instead.

So the mass of men... they bury it mostly, though it leaks out anyway and is there no matter what, making them neurotic because of the ideal of a normal that does not exist. And people will pay good money to talk to professionals behind closed doors, maybe in a secret location, the shame of experience coloring everything, being buried almost a little in drink or food or whatever, cell phones and fantasies, desperate for a connection their lives do not contain.
I think that’s true for many of us.

That’s not entirely true for me.

I don’t carry shame for my illnesses. If anything, I’m tired of hiding them. But what is difficult for me is knowing that with disclosure means anyone who knows those truths will perceive you differently, and even those with good intentions will likely fail to understand me and the nature of my disabilities.

at the same time, being able to defy expectations is an opportunity in itself and we can influence public opinion by being open, to the degree we are comfortable with.
 
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