I came across Cavelle’s excellent and memorable description of what stigma involves and how it can affect the experience of those with mental health difficulties, and I wanted to share it. I can strongly relate to the feeling of isolation that comes from the need to be guarded about my mental health difficulties, and to the anxiety over who to tell, and when. Apart from my husband (and even he didn’t know how far back my difficulties stretched), no one knew about my mental health issues until three years ago. Even now, there are around ten or so people who know I suffer from anxiety and depression, and a smaller handful of friends who know about my BPD diagnosis. No family members (other than my husband) are aware that I have ever had mental health issues.
My work with my ex-therapist, Jane, was the catalyst that prompted me to think about opening up to a few more people, whereas in the past the idea of letting anyone know had been completely inconceivable. My relationship with my current therapist has enabled me to continue along that road, in a very small and gradual way. But the questions are always there: who should I tell; when should I tell them; how much should I say; what will they think…..
Like Cavell, I believe that education and talking about mental health are key factors in the struggle to try and reduce and eventually eliminate mental health stigma. I feel privileged to be part of a community of bloggers who are trying to do just that!