This post sprung from another blog I was reading today about the recent articles regarding Stephen Fry “coming out” over his latest battle with mental illness and a suicide attempt.
I must confess to hiding my mental health from most people, so won’t ever criticise someone for “coming out” about theirs. However, I do think there is a difference between celebrities and ‘us’ talking about our mental illnesses.
If Stephen Fry told my immediate neighbours about his Bipolar, I think they might see him as being “a bit theatrical, eccentric, even a drama Queen”. However, if I shared my own MH, I suspect they might see me as “weird, depressing, or even frightening”. I don’t think celebrities have the same social fears because, regardless of what they do or say, people will always fall at their feet
I do think that by saying “it is easier for them”, would be a bit of a cop-out. However, when I read the recent article about Fry’s MH, I did wonder if it was a bit arrogant of him to think it might never jeopardise his own career.
I would agree that the reality of their mental torture is no different or easier than our own. However, if I didn’t have the financial problems (from years of being unable to slog my guts out to earn basic money) I imagine life would be a little easier. To be able to employ a good therapist and Personal Coach, or someone to do cleaning, shopping, and dog walking when I am in bed unable to face the world, would make some of my related issues a lot easier to bear.
When I was 18 years old (which wasn’t yesterday!) I “came out” as gay to a church full of charismatic Christians. At the time, it was still illegal to be (practising) homosexual under the age of 21 in Scotland and only just legal for over 21’s.
It is an integral part of my character to be completely honest about who I am and what I think. I always thought it was a predisposition of life to be true to others and ourselves. Therefore, to hide my mental health behind an extrovert/average intelligence goes against the grain. Whenever I read an article relating to a celebrity’s mental health, I cannot help but feel ashamed.
Thinking back to when I ‘came out’ and the proceeding years of thousands of other men and women doing the same – we all stood up to the most disgusting prejudices, so that one day we might get to where we are today. When I was in my early 20’s and just starting the first long term relationship, we could never have dreamed of the understanding and acceptance that gays experience today.
Perhaps it is time to ‘come out’ about my mental illness. It might not see the acceptance we long for in this lifetime, but it can go a long way for future generations to live openly about theirs – “Mental and Proud”!!!