Have you been helped by one of Rogers Behavioral Health Foundation’s initiatives (see below)? If so, we’d like to hear about your experience and how our support made a difference. With your permission, we would like to feature some or all of your comments on our website (rogersbhfoundation.org), in social media, or in other digital/print communications produced by the Foundation.
Making a strategic decision: Should I talk about my mental illness and recovery?
Talking about your mental illness should, first and foremost, support your healing and recovery. While many reach a point in their recovery when they have a strong desire to stop keeping their mental illness a secret and/or assist others by sharing what they have learned, it is always important to consider any consequences of sharing your story. For some, the benefits outweigh the potential risks and they decide to talk about their mental illness with their family, their friends, at their workplace and/or other settings. Some choose to participate in opportunities to tell their story publicly to further the mission of reducing stigma.
Before you talk about your mental illness and experiences of recovery, consider the potential short-term benefits and risks and the long-term benefits and risks of sharing your personal information. Sometimes people overestimate the negative reactions of others and discover that people are more supportive than expected and even begin to share their own experiences. Some people underestimate the risks and are surprised when someone they know says something negative about the choice to talk or even puts them down for having a mental illness. It is difficult to predict how others will react and how you will feel about your decision in the future. Hearing your story could both negatively and positively impact friendships, job opportunities and other relationships. Careful consideration needs to be given to this decision.
The setting for the conversation, the people you choose to talk with and what you choose to share are all parts of the decision. Some people find it very freeing to stop hiding that aspect of who they are. They choose to talk about it openly and have decided not to let the risks stop them from getting the benefits. Others carefully walk a path of disclosure, one person and setting at a time. It is up to you. A workbook to help you make disclosure decisions can be found here: https://wisewisconsin.