You know what’s funny? I was diagnosed with AvPD over two years ago. I started this blog shortly afterwards. And yet I never shared my diagnosis with any of my friends or family. I spilled my anonymous guts all over WordPress, but couldn’t bring myself to speak a word about my issues to anyone who actually knew me.
Last Saturday, Coming Out Day coincided with NAMI’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Granted, as a queer person, I usually hate it when anything that’s not coming out as LGBT is compared to coming out as LGBT. But I do have some similar fears about telling people I’m queer and telling them I’m mentally ill. They might ridicule me, reject me, ignore me, or even try to harm me.
So, on Saturday I took a little step forward in the easiest way possible. I made a Facebook post about my diagnosis and what it is. I wasn’t too nervous, because I “friend” people selectively and I had no reason to think that anyone who saw the post would respond poorly. I’m grateful for the fact that I was proven right.
No one is treating me any differently. Apart from a few supportive comments online, no one has even said anything. I’ve been terrified of sharing this information for two years, and when I finally did, the results were mercifully, practically non-existent.
I said something because speaking up is part of chipping away at stigma. Because hauling around this secret was beginning to feel more and more pointless. Because I’m tiring of acting like mental illness is a shameful secret that needs to be swept away.