I am an honest person by nature. I mean that in the sense that I am not deceitful or deceptive. But I also mean I am forthcoming and open.
Sometimes I worry that I am judged negatively for my honesty and that, in the eyes of an extremely negative or jaded person, I could be viewed as attention seeking. I like attention, yes. I am human. But that is not my motivation behind my honesty - especially in regards to my mental health.
People view the mentally ill in a negative fashion. They just do. They're seen as a little bit scary, unstable and weak. Depending on the type of mental illness, this attitude can vary but it's never exactly positive, is it? I don't want to have people feel that way about me. I don't want them to be on eggshells, wondering what is happening inside my head. And aside from that, I don't want to hide. I am not ashamed of my mental illnesses. I didn't choose them and I refuse to be ashamed of something that is outside of my control.
There is another reason for my honesty too. I want to help people. When I told my psychologist about my attitude towards my mental illnesses and that I refused to be ashamed or hide them, he told me he wished he could bottle my attitude and give it to his other patients. I want people to see that it's OK to be honest. It's not OK to be mentally ill in that you don't need to seek treatment or try to get better, but it is OK in that you shouldn't need to hide or pretend. I think this helps with recovery. I know it helps me with mine!
I also know that my thanatophobia is rare. And if it is not rare, it is rarely spoken of. And one is as bad as the other for a sufferer. So I talk. I share my experiences and my thoughts. I tell my story in real time. And I am honest.
And sometimes, something happens that makes me realise I am doing the right thing. Don't get me wrong, I have detractors. I've heard myself referred to as a narcissist, an attention-seeker, a liar and just a good ol' fashioned nut job. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I am very slowly developing the thick skin needed to carve myself out a corner of the internet for projecting my voice from. And I don't feed the trolls.
Yesterday, an article was written about me in the Sunday Mail. I was interviewed about my job running the 100+ Club and the book that I have written (which you can purchase here) when the conversation turned to my thanatophobia. I believe the journalist had checked out my social media presence. Anyway, she was so fascinated by our brief conversation that the next day she asked if she could do a whole story just on me and my mental health. This would never have happened without my trademark honesty.
Well a flurry of people sought my Facebook page and in turn, joined my little support group, The Safe Space. They told me they thought they were alone - the only sufferer in the world - crazy. But reading my story helped them. Some, profoundly. And none of this, none, would have happened without my honesty! And my favourite comment is this one, from a lady named Narelle: "I was in tears when I was reading the write up in the Sunday paper this morning. When I started to read other people's messages and their own experience I couldn't believe there were other people going through the exact same fears as myself. It was almost a relief knowing I wasn't alone in this."
So judge away, world. Whisper behind my back, call me crazy and call me a narcissist. But I am making a difference in this world. I am helping people and I am damn proud of who I am and what I am achieving. Honestly.
Miss SAMawdsley xx
- Do you ever hide who you are?
- Under what circumstances should someone hide their true self?