When I started this blog a few weeks ago, I thought of it mainly as a way to express myself, to show people what it is like to be mentally ill, and show that despite my mental illness, I'm still human and still deserving of as much respect as anyone else.
I was surprised at how overwhelmingly supportive others were. After my blog posts, I received messages from people showing their appreciation for what I'm doing, and telling me of their own issues which they struggled with. Reading through those, I realized that many people have the same desire I have, to talk frankly about our mental illness, but fear talking about it in a public sphere. We fear being judged, amd we fear valued relationships or even whole careers changing if we disclose our mental illness.
Unfortunately, those fears are often true. In the modern era, mental illness is stigmatized and the sufferers denigrated, and people risk a lot if they disclose, though many times they find after the fact that they risked much less than they thought. While prejudices can still be very much alive on more wide and abstract levels, once we know people who possess the traits we so often stereotype, our views soften, if only to accommodate them. We envision that these people are something dramatically different from ourselves, a belief which so easily falls apart when we see that these people are people, and not that different after all.
In addition to the positive reactions from others, I found myself more satisfied from the blog work than I thought I would be. I found writing these pieces stimulating and invigorating. But more than that, I felt happy that I made it. Writing this, I felt as though I were opening up some part of me which I before tried so exhaustively to suppress. I felt the muscles of my mind relax, no longer having to hide this part of me, or to fear the repercussions. It was out. My mental illness was known. And I was no worse. Quite the contrary, I was much, much better.
Of course, that is not to say my experiences are the same for everyone. I am only one person. My writing on mental illness are filtered through my own experiences only. There are other people, with different experiences, with just as much to share. On this blog I would like to dedicate time to them.
I would like to post on this blog other people's experiences with mental illness. I would like to share what other people have struggled with. They don't have to share anything they don't want to, and they can choose to put their name to it or leave it anonymous. They and I can work together to determine what to post on this blog.
It could be a single experience, it could a be a longer story with many experiences, it could be bits of advice accrued over a lifetime of experience. It could be from someone with mental illness. It could be from someone who knows and cares for a loved one with mental illness. It could be from someone who sees the mentally ill every day, even if only at a distance. The end goal is to give those of us with mental illness a human face, to show what it is like to be mentally ill, not as some far-off concept, but as people.
The more people know about these experiences, the more people understand. And the more people understand, the more society understands. The more society understands, the better respected, better treated, and better satisfied we become.
As I've said, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org . If you would like to share your experiences, please email me there and we can talk about this further.