While it truly is invisible to the world around us, we sometimes feel like our mental disorders and conditions are displayed like an advertisement on our foreheads. We feel as if everything that is going on inside ourselves, the storm that is raging in our minds, is out there for everyone to see when, in reality, it’s quietly raging where no one but you can feel it. This can make it difficult for the inevitable moment when we have to let someone in. When we enter a romantic relationship or deeply personal one, we have to gauge how much we should share and when we should share it. We don’t want to let it all out too early and overwhelm the person so that they feel uncomfortable with all of the information they’re being told. But at the same time, we should never feel like we have to hide who we are and we have every right to be open about our experiences and what we went through. So much of it has come to shape who we are and has become an integral part of us that we need to be able to share it. It’s a tight balancing act that we have to navigate, and it’s one that doesn’t really have a true answer.
How Soon Is Too Soon to Share About Your Experience?
It can vary based on the person and the relationship. It falls on you to figure out what is appropriate for you to share with the other person. Everyone and every relationship is different and you have to be mindful of what feels right. We don’t think you should ever hide what you have experienced. You should always feel free to share the basics with anyone, even if you have just met them. You have every right to share what your condition is, especially if they ask about your personal story. Some people will want to know about what you have gone through and are mindful of the fact that mental illness is prevalent in all of us. It shouldn’t ever be something to be ashamed of but it is something to be careful with. As we have talked about before, some people just don’t understand and are afraid of that which they don’t understand. There is a stigma around mental illness and how it causes people to act. If someone hears that you are suffering from an illness, they may think of that stigma. They may have that specific image that comes to mind that affects how they look at you. At first glance, it can be frustrating and anger-inducing. But we encourage you to come at it from a place of patience and grace. You have felt that same fear, just in a different context. And while that may not excuse the fact that you deserve to be treated fairly, it does offer a sense of understanding for where they are coming from. If that is more than you feel you can give them, then that’s a good indicator of if the relationship can work. But if you are willing to be patient with them, then you very well may find that they will come to understand it and become more open about talking about it. Sometimes just sharing that you have a condition is enough at first; the rest can come later and that’s okay. These conversations deserve to be organic and not forced. Not just to help with your comfort in talking about it, but just so they have time to process and understand.
As much as we may want to, we can’t force the world to change so quickly. Mental illness is still dealing with its fair share of stigmas and we have to be patient with it. Trying to force it, or coming at it from a place of anger, will do more harm than good. If we come at it from a place of lashing out at others for what we are experiencing, then less amount of progress is sure to be made. That’s just the nature of these things. Issues cannot be resolved through anger. So don’t try to force your relationships to adhere to your mental illness experiences. Always be open and accepting of it, but be conscious of how others may feel. We aren’t excusing their lack of understanding but we want you to give them grace in it. Your relationship can thrive even with the existence of your mental disorder. You don’t have to hide it or keep it secret; it just takes some tact and caution when sharing it. It’s okay to take the time to let the relationship to reach a point where both parties are comfortable. Comfort will bring understanding and empathy, and that is the best way that we can change the stigmas that surround our conditions.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]