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What a Friend Calling Me ‘Crazy’ Taught Me About Sharing My Mental Health Challenges

A decade later and I still vividly remember the words, “you are crazy,” coming out of my friend’s mouth.

I was meeting my friend for lunch after my weekly therapy session. She asked where I was coming from. I nonchalantly responded, “therapy.”

My friend stopped walking and yelled, “I didn’t know you are crazy! Am I safe being around you?”

As someone who writes and coaches for a living, I am rarely at a loss for words. Yet, there are no words to explain how I felt at that moment.

Ten years later and I am still left nearly speechless when I think of the encounter. I had just disclosed something personal, vulnerable with this friend. Her immediate reaction was to question my sanity. To label and shame me. To question her safety rather than my own.

I felt shame. I felt embarrassed. I felt humiliated.

While I stopped being friends with this person shortly after the encounter, her reaction to my disclosure stuck with me over the years as I continued to disclose my mental health challenges to other people. I was cautious before telling people about my anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I was worried about how they may react to me.

Over time, I learned that most people do not react as this person did. Over time, I learned that most people are accepting and welcoming when you share your true, authentic, fabulous self with them. Over time, I learned that there are communities like The Stability Network where I could share my story, inspire others and change how people think about mental health.

Now, I feel confident. I feel proud. I feel empowered when I share not just that I am in therapy (I still go weekly, by the way) but that I am living successfully with my mental health conditions.

This friend taught me an important lesson — you cannot control what other people say or do, you can only control how you respond and engage. I chose to move forward and inspire others by speaking about my mental health journey.

Today, I proudly write about my mental health conditions, speak on mental health in the workplace, and coach people to identify and own what makes them fabulous.

All that I ask is you please don’t call me “crazy.”

Image via contributor

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