Coming out with your mental illness

I’ve recently decided that I will “come out” on the Internet about my mental illness. I am actually going to connect my name to what I write. I am going to start submitting as a guest blogger. I may– if I am actually brave enough– attach my name to this blog. I may.

My husband says that I should never be ashamed of my illness and that I should go for it. But stigma still exists and I worry about what some call your “digital footprint”– once I come out on the Internet with my name attached to bipolar disorder, I will never be able to remove it. Once it’s out there, it’s out there.

My main concern is my future employability. Do I want future employers to Google me and discover that I suffer from bipolar disorder? But then again, on the other side of the issue, why would I want to be employed by an organization that discriminates against those with mental illness? It could certainly become a case of weeding out the employers I do not want.

Or perhaps it will simply display my ability to write, and to share, and even how much effort I put into my work and my life despite my disability. My husband, always positive, always optimistic, says that I will be even more employable because I will have demonstrated my writing skills.

Coming out about such private matters is painful. And yet, I also think that people need to know that you can be bipolar and still function. Or perhaps the mentally “well” will learn more about mental illness and become more empathic and understanding. And always, maybe readers who do suffer from mental illness will find hope, or feel at least some kinship, with what I write about. I would love for someone to read this and think: “No, I am not alone in this. There are others like me. We are going through this together.”

On the other hand (and now I am reminding myself of Topol in The Fiddler on the Roof), my parents won’t even read my writing, if they can avoid it. It causes them too much worry, too much internal pain, too much parental guilt (which they have no reason to feel– but I think all parents feel guilt).

So I will be coming out. Not now. But soon. Tell me if you have considered the same thing, if you have done it and what has resulted.

I hope you have happy stories to tell.

 

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