Today has got me thinking. Thinking about mental health and how to talk about it to new friends, acquaintances and strangers. I know that the law says you cant discriminate, but real life is not the same as the ideal legal world.
Today I told someone, a new friend, that I had recently been in a psychiatric ward for two days and that I had depression. I stopped short of admitting that I had had a breakdown, but I let it out there. And I dont know how she is going to react. Whether she will still want to be friends or not. That isnt the issue though. The issue is that I felt ashamed at admitting that I had had a breakdown (Mental health crisis) and had been in hospital. I felt the NEED to say that I wasnt dangerous or anything. Now what the hell is all that about?
If someone had a broken leg and was on crutches, they wouldnt feel the need to say to people that they werent dangerous. Yet I felt the need to say it. Usually Im quite upfront about my mental health and am not ashamed of having depression. However at the moment, maybe things are too raw and Im finding it hard to be my usual upfront self about it. Even using the words admitting I was in a psychiatric ward is not something I would usually use. I would inform someone not admit it. Using admit gives the impression that I should be ashamed. I shouldnt be ashamed, but I am.
Im making new friends at the moment and its obvious that Im not at work right now. So how do I go about saying that Im on sick leave? And what if they ask why? I am, by nature, a very honest person and I believe that if someone is not comfortable with my mental health status, then theyre not the kind of friend I need. However, when someone doesnt know you, they dont have the benefit of having seen you well and knowing the difference between you being well and being ill. So I dont want to be too open with people.
Then that makes me feel like Im lying to them. And I dont like lying. Im making friends and I am off sick. A couple are starting to get curious at how much free time I have. I either lie and pretend like Ive been to work, say Im on holiday for a while (6 weeks, really?) Or just be honest. Its such a minefield. And its a minefield because Im usually so open and honest about these things. It makes me REALLY uncomfortable to lie or lie by omission if someone asks me a direct question. I suppose I just want people to get the chance to see the real me before they know about the depression and judge me on my recent persona.
Im not judging anyone here who would be uncomfortable with someone who openly admits their mental health issues. People have their own reasons for feeling uncomfortable with it and that is not my issue. My issue is how I currently feel about it and how I can get back to being unashamed at the fact that yes, I do suffer from depression and I am currently having a bad episode, but that Im just like everyone else and its nothing that I need to hide from people. My philosophy has been over the last few years that if nobody talks about these issues, they stay taboo subjects. Someone needs to be open about it and why cant that be me?
Anyway. Thats my thoughts for the day.