22 Messages for People Who Haven't Opened Up About Their Mental Illness
In the mental health community, “1 in 4” has become a well-known stat, representing the number of people worldwide who will be affected by a mental health issue at some point in their lives. It’s proof that people who have mental illnesses are not alone.
Even though we’re “1 in 4” strong, nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help. This is especially an issue in minority communities. In 2013, African American and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about half the rate as whites, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Disclosing your mental illness or mental health issues is a personal and sometimes hard decision. And while not everyone needs to blog about it, people who have mental illness shouldn’t be forced into secrecy, either. We asked our Mighty readers what they would say to those hesitant to open up about their mental illness. If you’ve chosen to keep your mental illness a secret or have yet to seek professional help, some of these answers might encourage you to open that door a bit more. What you find might surprise you.
1. “The only way we’ll stop the stigma is by telling people our stories. I’m not ashamed. This is how I was made!” — Nikki Britt DeMeyers
2. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The more I’ve opened up about my anxiety the more I’ve learned about myself and the people around me. It’s quite liberating.” — Nicole Ricketts
3. “I am who I am today because of the struggles I’ve been through. If I can help one person by sharing my story, it was worth it.” — Cassi Jasset
4. “Once you start opening up and talking about it, that’s when the real healing starts.” — Kathryn Singleton
5. “You have every right to live openly — but you owe no one your story. How openly you choose to live is and should be completely up to you, and you’re allowed to change your mind at any time, for any reason. Never let someone guilt you into being an activist or into being silent. Write your own story.” — Alena Belleque
6. “The more you acknowledge what’s part of you, the more you’ll realize you’re not alone.” — Tabitha Rainey
7. “Say it with confidence. Don’t be concerned with how people react or reply. I told people and found everyone was great. I never asked for help, just understanding.”— Kati Kainulainen
8. “Take your time. It has to be the right time for you.” — Marie Rossi
9. “It’s your choice; just know you’re not alone and I will accept you no matter what you choose to say or not say.” — Jessica James
10. “You will find there are more people than you thought who have or are going through the same thing. And they will help you, even just by giving you solace that you’re not alone in this struggle.” — Melissa Marcasciano McKeown
11. “You don’t have to feel alone anymore.” — Kate Wilhelmi
12. “You don’t have to tell anyone anything you don’t want, but what if your experience helps someone else? Be open to the possibility you could get much more out of it than you think.” — Kathy Watson Stapp
13. “It’s OK not to talk about your mental illness until you’re ready to. It’s also OK to say to someone, ‘Hey, I need help.'” — Cassandra Coogan
14. “The only way we can start to push past the stereotypes associated with mental illness is to be honest with ourselves and others.” — Alayna Coates
15. “Mental illness feeds off secrecy. It wants to stay silent and hidden. Keeping it inside will ensure that it has complete control over you. Letting it out, talking about it, opening up to safe people (people who don’t judge or shame you for it) is [a] way to break free of its chains.” — Christine Suhan
16. “Opening up about it is the first step in recovery.” — Miranda Cox
17. “Try us… you’ll be surprised how many of us will say ‘Me too,’ or ‘I understand!'”— Annette Maribo Jorgensen
18. “Be frank about it. Those who are worth having around you will stay; let go of the rest.” — Melissa Davis Thompson
19. “Sharing my story has taken away some of mental illness’ power. It gives a purpose to the struggle.” — Melinda Bumgardner Schatz
2o. “It’s always your choice what you say to whom, but you owe it to yourself to surround yourself with people who can embrace that part of you.” — Martha Katz
21. “Please don’t suffer in silence. There are communities everywhere that are waiting for you to offer support, guidance, friendship and peer support. You are not alone. You are valued. You are wanted.” — Monika Owczarski
22. “If you don’t talk about it, then who will?” — Peyton Scribbles Varner
If you’re looking for more support, resources or information about living with a mental illness, find your local National Alliance on Mental Illness.
*Some answers have been shortened and edited for clarity and length.
The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us about the first time you reached out to someone about your mental illness. Whether it was a friend or a professional, we want to hear about why you opened up, how it went, and why you’re glad (or maybe not glad) you did it. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.