Monday, August 1, 2011

Too Afraid to Share

I asked my husband to read over a potential blog post today. After he read it, he said, "This is not your style." He pointed out that my writing style for this blog is very different than my other blog, Moving in With Dementia, and my preaching style. Interestingly, Jeff said the problem with the posts on this blog is that they are too preachy. No one ever wants a preacher who is too preachy!

My style is storytelling. When I write a sermon, I need a story first. No story, no sermon. It's just who I am. So, why is my style for this blog so different?

I am afraid to share my story.

I am not afraid to tell people about my bipolar disorder, and even share a bit about it, but I realized I am afraid to say too much. People with mental illness are judged so harshly that our jobs, family life, and friendships are at risk if people know too much about us. That is why most of us don't speak up.

However, the purpose of this blog was to let other people with mental illness and their families know they are not alone. Sharing our stories is what connects us, not sticking to just intellectual, heady talk about what is going on.

From my experience, having mental illness makes you feel like a freak. Heck, other people actually call us freaks. It is lonely, not only for me but for my husband and son. Sometimes it feels like we are the only people dealing with this because very few people actually talk about it.

So today, part of our story included being lucky that I even got out of bed this morning. Jeff actually got me to go for a walk, which was a big deal. (I was supposed to go running and just couldn't do it.) One of my great therapists said we were working towards having days when I don't wake up and automatically think "I hate my life." I have very few of those mornings, but I will keep working for them.


Rev. Katie


  1. It really is hard to share these stories - I feel the same reticence about talking about depression, because I know a lot of people just won't get it and will assume I'm being lazy or difficult instead of having a serious problem functioning some days. I've already had some rather hurtful exchanges with people I'd expected would have my back, which makes me even less keen to talk (and thus further contributes to the misunderstanding).

    I really appreciate you putting yourself and your story out there, to whatever degree of detail you can manage. It makes such a difference simply to know one is not alone. I'm sure others will feel a similar way.


    ps on Twitter you can use the hashtag #whatstigma to reach others who write/read about mental illness.

  2. Hi Camilla,
    It makes me so mad when people assume we are lazy or difficult. Who would chose to be that way? Do they think it is fun or something? I have never understood that assumption and it often does come from those closest to us who we would hope support and understand us.

    I hope you have some people close to you who you can be yourself with.

    I appreciate you reading my story, and for the great twitter tip too!


    Rev. Katie

  3. I share my cyclothymia and am thrilled when my friends and family actually ask me questions rather than just make assumptions. I realize I am difficult to be around and live with but knowledge about cyclothymia is helpful to them (especially my husband) in knowing that it is not "me" but the illness.