The Different Reactions I Get When I Tell People About My Mental Health

I have anxiety and depression. I can openly admit it to myself, but it’s sad that I feel scared telling other people about it. I don’t usually come out with it straight away. I have to be willing and ready, but I do often feel the need to tell people I’m close to — just so that they are aware I have a mental illness and are prepared if I suddenly lock myself away, or get lost in the middle of a conversation.

I tend not to tell people I’ve only just met, but opening up to friends and family can be hard. You never know what reaction you’re going to get. The few people I have opened up to have given a mix of responses. My parents showed concern and worry, which stressed me out. Some people might jump to conclusions and follow the stereotypical stigmas and myths we try so hard to break. Others have replied with, “Oh, wow! Me, too!” But the best response I’ve ever had is part of why I love my friends so much: “Ah well, let’s go to the pub!”

How do you handle people who just don’t understand? If I’m honest, I don’t know. It has happened to me a couple of times. I’ve been asked how it feels: “What is it like? Can’t you just get over it?” My response is, “I can’t explain it,” partly because I can’t, but mostly because I’m afraid to say it out loud.

If I spoke out with the parts that I could explain — how horrifically scared I get when it’s triggered, the excruciating loneliness even though I’m not alone, how it makes me want to go hide in the bathroom and hurt myself, how I fantasize about suicide — I’m scared of the way they would react.

You don’t have to tell people; do what you’re comfortable with. It’s a completely personal decision. It can be helpful to tell people about your mental health for many reasons. If you’re afraid, take your time, and assess the situation first.

Be prepared for people to be dismissive; some people won’t understand. When you tell the right people, it can be a huge weight lifted from your shoulders, and it can be quite comforting to know you have someone you can turn to.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Mental Health

3d image,woman composed of balls. Artificial intelligence concept

I Love My Brain, Even When We Fight

I love my brain, even when we fight. Some days I have to remind myself that my brain is not my enemy. It does amazing things every day. It makes me “me” and lets me serve those around me. But it’s also messy. Sometimes frustratingly so. And when things get messy… I brush off people [...]
hand holding colorful balloons

5 Ways I Define My Worth When I Don't Have an Answer for 'Where Are You Working?'

When I meet new people for the first time or people who haven’t seen me in a long time, I seem to always get the same question: “So are in school?” or “Where are you working?” It seems to me that our society has calculated our worth based on one or both of these things. [...]
Silhouettes of people at political protest

3 Strategies to Help Advocates Protect Their Own Mental Health

Fighting for injustice and the ills of society are cultural pursuits birthed out of a passion for equality and human rights for all. However, how can one tell if or when these pursuits cause anxiety or become detrimental toward one’s own mental welfare? Wellness and the ability to examine self-care methods against helping others are [...]
Young woman in sweater with heart shape enjoying beautiful cloudscape sitting on the car roof above the clouds on the sunrise

A Message to Those With Mental Illness, From a 'Success Story' Who Still Struggles

Editor’s note: If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. I am one of the millions of adults diagnosed with depression. I am also one of the millions of adults struggling with high anxiety. Depending on the day, the doctor [...]