“I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are.”

Hello everyone–sorry for the break, it’s finals time for me which had to be the priority unfortunately!

I want to respond to the poll and what people want be to elaborate on, but I feel that it’s necessary to talk about something that a loved one brought to my attention recently, and that’s the possible repercussions of posting my “secrets” for all to see.

I am aware of these repercussions, and I have been for long before I wrote my first post. But as it is so nicely put in the song, “Secrets” by Mary Lambart, which the title of this post comes from, I really don’t care who knows about my secrets anymore.

The loved one who inspired this post, or made me aware of its necessity, is concerned that I may be hurt by this blog–that people will look at me differently, and treat me a certain way before getting to know me and you know what I say? Let them.

Because what they’ll see if they look at me in any certain way is that I’m human. There are things that I struggle with, and ways that I cope with them, and these things have been labeled a certain way but this makes me no more or less human than others who are not labeled in these ways.

I’m not ashamed of my problems. They are a part of me, and my eventual goal is to accept all of me–not just the things that I like–even as I work to change some things.

In treatment one of the most difficult things is that for a time you are treated as a diagnosis. Things are assumed about your behavior, you aren’t trusted, and your independence is restricted because it is assumed that because of your label you will do certain things. The tough part comes when your life is out of danger, and you’re still in treatment, and you’re asked to shed your diagnosis as your identity and find yourself again outside of your disorder. This is the hardest thing that I am doing right now, as my disorders are still so much a part of my identity.

But what people don’t realize is that people, when they’re living with mental illness, are constantly working to find their new self. I’m now not only a depressed and anxious eating disorder patient–I’m a dancer, a student, a crafter, a rat-lover, a barista, a research assistant, a reader and so much more.

Recovery happens “when life becomes more important.” This is what I’ve heard from people since day 1. And what recovery is becoming for me is just adding to the list of what I am, and who I am. With this blog, I’m hoping to add “mental health advocate” to that list.

People won’t be able to change their preconceptions of what mental illness is until they realize that it’s all around them. And that it doesn’t take away a person’s other identities–it just shortens the list until they’re well enough to extend it out again.

So if you’re reading this, and choosing to look at me as a mental health patient before you check out my other qualities that’s fine, because it’s part of who I am, and where I’m coming from. And yet when you do look at me from that perspective, I hope you’ll see and understand that I am fighting to be so much more than that. And my decision to share that fight with you all is a choice that I hope will help you see that people with mental illness are not to be discounted as “just another patient.” We’re people whose lives were taken away, and who are getting their options back, and our lives back one day at a time (oh no…Four Winds motto!)

We are also stronger as a result of it all.

Thank you for reading.