LGBT have the expression “coming out of the closet” for when someone makes the deeply personal and sometimes very hard choice of telling friends about their gender/sexual preferences. Pagans have a play on that, using “broom closet” instead. What do people with mental illnesses have that describes them openly talking about their mental illness?
For me I’ve always felt like a shambling scientific-experiment-gone-wrong who is shackled in a dank basement. I’ve talked to many other people in my life who also have a mental illness diagnosis and I am not alone in that feeling.
Over the years (and rightly so), it has become more and more socially acceptable to come out as LGBT or even have an alternate religious lifestyle. However society is not very accepting of the beasts in the basement. I have experienced in my own life people taking a few steps away from me when they find out that I have a mental illness, even people who are self described “open and accepting”. Their actions make it seem as if having a mental illness makes you dirty. But I think that might be preferable to the ones that treat me with an enormous well of pity. “Oh my God, you poor, poor girl!” They exclaim in a tone usually reserved for a funeral, making me feel as if my life should be forfeit because my brain functions a bit differently. I actually lost friends after my diagnosis, dropping off one by one as if I had the plague.
Then there are those who tell you that you don’t need those pesky medications. Just try balancing on your head for three hours a day and you’ll be totally cured! Trust them, they know a guy who knew a guy who read about a guy who had anxiety and did that and now he’s totally fine! I’m sorry, but the only person I’m going to listen to when it comes to my medication is my doctor.
I’m tired of living in a basement because having a mental illness is scary to other people. I might just be a small person in a large crowd, but I want my voice to be heard. Even if it is only by a few people. Because maybe, just maybe, awareness will grow.