I still struggle to talk about my mental illness. I can rant about the stigma surrounding it, and how it holds students and doctors back from seeking help. Yet there are times where I hold my tongue, out of shame, or guilt, or worry that someone will use my mental illness against me.
That’s why I’m speaking out now.
I, and the many others like me, have become an expert at what I call “fronting”. We might call it being resilient, or high functioning. Fronting allowed me to attend university, pass exams, and deceive friends and family for years. Fronting also allowed me to avoid when I was spiralling, and push myself to keep up, to be “normal”, even when I was drowning in my own head. Fronting also meant I didn’t reach out to others, I delayed seeking treatment until I hit rock bottom and the end result was inevitably worse than it could have been.
I have realised that as strong as you might be as an individual, it takes even more strength and bravery to allow yourself to share that burden. And the people that do help carry you through that darkness? Worth their weight in gold.
Speak out. Don’t let the shame stop you. Just the act of doing so is another hit against the stigma that is trying to hold us back.