When Mental Illness Makes You Keep Secrets
One of the most painful aspects of my mental illness has been the combination of paranoia and feelings of being a burden. Together, I feel suspicious all the time that the things I do, the things I say and the things I feel are weighing other people down, interfering with their lives and causing them to change their opinions of me for the worst. As a result, I have to hide so much of myself.
I’ve hid diagnoses from my family and friends for fear they would worry too much and overreact. Plus, the diagnoses they did know about caused them enough stress, the last thing I want to do is make it harder on them. To this day, I continue to hide some of my diagnoses from those closest to me, but recognize the unhealthiness of this and am working on it.
I’ve hid major life setbacks and accomplishments from people. Setbacks because they would add stress and worry to those around me. Accomplishments because when I have shared these, everyone around me, instead of celebrating, becomes concerned that I’m “too busy” and that I should “focus on my health more.” Some of them even insist and demand that I stop activities in my life when I succeed at something. This is obviously not encouraging for me when I want to open up about what’s going on in my life.
I’ve hid true feelings and emotions from people, and details of my behaviors. I feel like if I vent too much to people or go into too much detail, that I am treating that friend or family member or loved one like my therapist, which is a burden they don’t need to bear. If they ask me how I’m doing, chances are they don’t actually want to know, they’re just being polite. So I find it best to just to suppress the words and move on.
Are any of these things healthy? Absolutely not. Do I recognize that? Yes. Does that mean I can easily stop it? No, not in the slightest. It’s a daily battle trying to figure out how much to open up about, what to open up about and who to share things with. I try my best, but at the end of the day my paranoia often wins more than it loses. But life is a constant battle all on its own, so this is just another one for me I suppose.
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Unsplash photo via Rene Bohmer