“I want to tell my friends about my depression.” “How do I tell my boyfriend that I have bipolar?” “I have been dating this girl for a year when do I tell her that I have schizophrenia?” Have you ever been in that situation when you received a mental health diagnosis and wonder how you will tell people? For many people, this is one of the biggest struggles that comes with a diagnosis.
How do we talk about mental health in a healthy setting? Well, first thing we need to discuss is the audience. How well do they know about mental health challenges? Are they open to the idea of mental health? Do they talk about the stigma associated with mental health? Understanding these factors will help one be able to see who they trust to opening up. In addition, we have to feel comfortable talking to them. Have you ever had a stranger open up to you in a public transportation vehicle and felt they left a bombshell with you and you have no way to respond? Why was it hard for you to respond? Well, most likely due to you not knowing the person. Although, it might’ve been good for the person to release all that information, but it might’ve left you feel drained and unprepared because you didn’t know the person.
And that goes to the second point is what to disclose. There are different forms of self-disclosure. In a different post, I will go into more detail with it, but for now that in ranges with how much information you will disclose. Is it appropriate to tell someone you just met your life story? Probably not, unless it’s at a speaking event. How could someone use this information against you? Finding someone we trust is important. And we must be willing to disclose information that might be personal to us at the right time. Try to figure out the pros and cons of disclosing such information to someone.
If it seems hard to disclose, start with baby steps. You might start off by saying you haven’t been feeling well emotionally. And that you want their support. If you feel more comfortable to disclose more, do it in a steady matter. While doing so, pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel drained? Do you want to go to your room and sleep? If so, stop and take a break. Pay attention to your body.
And overall, make it a discussion. Perhaps, your friend, significant other or parent might be going through something similar.