Speaking out/facing stigma

Hi
I’m new here and basically just need to share that I’m struggling with stigmas around mental illness. I’ve had my share of mental health challenges, depression, anxiety, etc. and have actually been doing really well for some time. I recently got this new job where i work for a nonprofit that exists to help people experiencing a variety of difficulties, including mental health challenges. I love the job, i love the organization, i love the people and what I’ll be able to do for clients.

My issue is that in the course of trainings I’ve done for this job, I’ve realized that I am not comfortable sharing my personal experiences with mental health challenges. The trainings themselves are great. I am so glad they’re required and available! They explain mental illness and how to help in a non-stigmatizing way. They even encourage speaking out to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

I know that the place I work is probably the least likely to penalize me for my story, and the most likely to be supportive. Yet I’m still scared to share. Stigma 100% does exist. I don’t want to be treated differently because of my mental-anything. Plus, part of my story involves abuse/trauma that makes it hard for me to trust people in general. It takes a long time for me to trust an individual, let alone a whole company.

I guess I just feel guilty in a way, for not being comfortable sharing personal details, especially when the stigma I’m afraid of can only be ended by people speaking out about mental illness. I’m just not willing to do it. At least not right now. It’s not fair to expect the people who have experienced mental health challenges to be the ones who speak out and reduce stigma. After all, they’re the ones struggling with symptoms and stigmas!

Anywho, thanks for reading this. Has anyone else struggled with the dissonance of desperately wanting to help end stigma for others but also being afraid of that very stigma for yourself? What helps? If you have started to share your story for the sake of helping others, what gives you courage and how have you been recieved?

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Hello NewAtThis,
Welcome to Heart Support, we really appreciate that you are sharing your toughs here.
I can relate to you, i am also sorry to hear that you have experienced abuse/trauma.
Trust issues also well known by me, and i learn to trust people right now. Isolated from the whole
world, reducing my social activities nearly to zero the last few years, also before corona led me to
heavy depression. Also other things…
When i first opened up about what is going on with me, i reached out with my struggles but not going in
too deep with most of the things. I was extremely scared to talk about it.
My right now best friend and the person i am so grateful to have right now, i have known a little for
about 10 years to now, mostly we talked in our company for a coffee a bit. In the beginning of this year she did also do things a bit with me in private aside from work. She is the complete opposite from me, extroverted and talking to almost everybody. I am scared of people arround me.
Then when my struggles overwhelmed me, i felt guilty and wanted her to know all of it.
She was right after my first therapist the person who i spoke out everything. I cried, i stuttered and was sweating like i was sitting in hell. i found trust in her and was scared to let down.
After i spoke out to her, she looked me in the eyes and told me that i might be one the strongest people she
know, by telling her everything, that i am brave and that she cancelled her plans for later on that day, just to
be there for me. I was in tears of joy after that, i never experienced something like that in my life.
She is a great human, with a big heart and i am more than happy to have someone like that in my life.
After some sessions with my therapist, i opened up with some general things about my mental health
with my boss and colleagues. I did not go into to much, just with what i am dealing with and what i do
against it. They all support me, which is a blessing for me.
Sharing your worries, toughs and weaknesses is in my eyes a strength. No one is perfect, some do better
some not.
You are strong my friend, you are worthy and deserve everything good.
I hope this may help you a bit for your journey and i did not go to much off topic. :melting_face:
My friend, i wish you a wonderful day, feel hugged and
Greetings

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Self-disclosure can be very difficult. You’re certainly not alone in your reluctance to share your personal experience. I used to be afraid that telling others what I’ve been through would cause them to think it would be impossible for me to be a stable and trustworthy person.

However, little by little, I began sharing my experience, and learned that investing a measure of vulnerability actually promotes trust and empathy in those who can relate because of their own experiences.

This forum is unique because there’s never any negative judgment, only openness and compassion is expressed. Stigma is an irrelevant word here, so you’re safe, and can share whatever you feel comfortable about.

In truth, rather than being stigmatized here, sharing your stories can be a source of inspiration, while others inspire you.

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First off, welcome to HeartSupport! Thank you for sharing!

You are absolutely not alone in this. Each of the people in this community is really bad at following the advice they give others, including advice on breaking down stigmas. Still, sharing your story is one of the most powerful ways to reach people like you (provided you’re not a therapist–that might not be appropriate). That’s what makes HeartSupport such an amazing place–peer to peer support from people who have been there. The best way to overcome your fear of telling your story is just to tell it, starting small and in safe environments like this one. From there, tell your therapist, your close friends, on and on, widening your trust circle until it includes your workplace.

For what it’s worth, I expect that many of your coworkers are a lot like you. People who work for nonprofits do so out of passion. Passion for mental health comes from having lived through mental illness. That could actually be a good segue for you to introduce your story. “I am so excited to be working here. After what I’ve been through, I am honored to have the chance to give back.” Imagine if one of your coworkers started with that line opened up to you. Would you think less of them? That said, blindly charging out of your comfort zone isn’t a great idea, but sit with this notion for awhile, think about it, and warm up to it. What’s the worst that can happen? Your journey has given you empathy, and that makes you valuable in your job. Congrats on getting a job you’re passionate about!

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welcome to the community! Thank you for being here and for the work you are doing. It sounds like a really great place to be working that offers a lot of support.
It can totally be a scary thing sharing your own experiences, especially if they are very traumatic and there’s a history of abuse involved. I hate to think that you feel forced to share your story or that you don’t feel safe to do so. I think having experience with mental illness and with your past can sometimes help to empathise with others and understand what they are going through. Sometimes we can use what we have overcome to encourage others that they can also overcome it.
I don’t always share parts of myself with others, but sometimes even reading a post I can say “hey I understand you, I feel what you’re saying to be true, you’re not alone”.

I think a huge part of reducing stigma is people knowing they aren’t the only ones going through it, and in fact there are more people than they realise. That doesn’t mean everyone has to share every detail about why or how they are feeling it. Maybe some day you will start to feel safer talking about it as you heal, but for now you have a voice to let people know they are seen and heard and that is hugely important.

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From: Tiikrig

Hi NewAtthis. It’s great to have you here. I just have the need to say that I personally find it great that you’ve been feeling great for some time. Moreso that you have decided to help others. In my opinion that is a great way to find healing within a sense of added purpose to it. It is 100% fair that you don’t feel comfortable sharing your own experiences surrounding M.H. And even when your job involves the topic, you don’t need to see it as a requirement or a box to tick. Your experiences are yours to share whenever you feel like.

On the same way, you don’t have to adapt your speed and ease on trusting on other people. You will know when you are comfortable talking about it.

If you feel guilty about not sharing them try to remind yourself that you are already in a position to use your experiences to help others, even if you don’t share them, and that is so much already.

Best regards.
DerMarto.

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Hi, welcome to Heartsupport!
I understand that it is very difficult. People who struggle with mental illness are often misunderstood and then get labels put on them. It is sad that mental illness is still sometimes not taken seriously, even though it is so important and impacts every aspect of our lives. In my own family I have in the past faced prejudice and judgement but I believe it has gotten better over time. First no one understood me because I didn’t understand it myself, I didn’t know what or even the fact that something was “amiss”. I was being harsh to myself and thought I was just a failure. But the moment I had an official diagnosis, I felt so validated and understood. Some people are ashamed about their mental struggles because they wish they would “function” normally. But for me opening up to others helped me to show them that it was not my fault, I was not being lazy or slow. That instead I just need a little bit of help and compassion to flourish.
It sounds like an amazing job you have, being able to help others. But you should not feel guilty, it’s your own decision whether or what you would like to share or not. And it is completely fine not to share if you are not comfortable with it. You’re doing great! :hrtlegolove:

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