When I first started this blog a couple of years ago, I was intent on it being anonymous. My aim was to create a ‘safe space’, a platform via which I could communicate my innermost thoughts and feelings without upsetting those who cared most. Of course, there might be a bit of irony in the fact that I’m effectively speaking to the World; anyone, anywhere, at any time can find me here, if they know where to look.
For a while, I was fiercely protective of my blog. I used social media as a means to reach out to others, but my Twitter account was nameless too. None of those reading would know me if they tripped over me in the street. I don’t know what I am/was afraid of. I have some ‘unorthodox’ coping strategies, and I was unwilling to share those with people who ‘know’ me. I was scared of being judged, of being misbranded. I thought I could pull off this double existence I seemed to be living; there was the ‘true’ version of me, the ‘imillnotcrazy’ version, and there was the ‘painted on’ version of me, the shy, awkward, version that people could physically cast eyes on.
Now, though, I’m starting to open up a bit more, be a bit more honest with the people immediately around me, the people willing and able to help. I’m gradually allowing more and more people in; my Facebook friends now include people who know me, and have known me all/most of my life. I can’t make this journey on my own, and I no longer think I have to.
I use good-judgement, and choose who to trust. I lead people to things like my blog, and my Twitter account, but I don’t ram my illness down people’s throats. I’m beginning to brave face-to-face contact with people, I can make plans to have coffee, for example, and follow these plans through. Most importantly, I guess, is that I’m not just as ashamed of my illness. I don’t feel such a strong need to hide certain things away; I realise this sort of behaviour only serves to feed the stigma that surround mental illness. Self-harm, for instance, is something most often associated with young people, but perhaps that’s because not enough adult self-harmers come forward, heart on sleeve, and say ‘I’m an adult, and I self-harm’.