“Coming out” as Mentally Ill

People possess an innate proclivity to want to be a member of their in-group, and deviation that would further ostracize them from the domain which is considered the norm is a leap that requires immense courage. Courage is not behaving in the absence of fear; courage is behaving in spite of fear.

In my estimation and experience, it requires a prodigious amount of courage to embrace your hindrances and expose them to the world. After writing this book I felt unbelievably liberated and open. For the first time I wasn’t hiding behind these mental walls, walls too tall and so deep into the ground that there was no conceivable way anyone could break through or tunnel under. The problem with constructing walls to keep people out is that in doing so you keep yourself in. I’ve learned that this experience leads to nothing but even more neurosis and unpleasant emotion, most of which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

The freedom that comes from finally becoming open, from accepting and expressing your true self, is liberating. The feeling of liberation transcends and overpowers any of the negative feelings of embarrassment and judgment that could also be present or afflicted upon you. When I put everything out there, for everyone to read, I never expected people to be so touched. But it’s that human connection, that rawness and candidness, which makes us human. Sharing my book, my story, my experiences, but paramount to all, sharing my feelings, has opened me to a freer life. I will never cower in fear because of my mental illnesses; they are a part of me. Accepting and embracing them is a far superior solution than being disingenuous, shameful, and full of fear. I am who I am, and I must accept that.

Secrecy, deception, and ignoring your problems, aren’t going to cease them from existing. If anything, they will enable them to grow and fester. I’ve learned, albeit through a long, arduous, and extremely painful (but completely worth it) journey, that vulnerability, openness, and a strict adherence to the truth, are the keys to mental and emotional serenity. By accepting the past, embracing the present, and allowing the future to unfold understanding I have no control over it, elicits a sense of serenity and peace that remains unequivocal by the material and tangible realm. Money can’t buy happiness; it can only buy distractions, people often erroneously conflate the two.

Every day isn’t going to be easy; there will still be immense struggle. But we are all here together, and we can therefore help each other struggle but one day at a time.

 

  • Jack A. Bingham

Author of Obsessive-Compulsive Dramatic: My Fight Against OCD, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Addiction