I made a major decision a couple of days ago. I decided to openly admit on Facebook to my family and friends that I have schizoaffective disorder severe enough to be medically retired from the military. Only a handful of them knew that I have issues with schizophrenia before that. Admitting schizophrenia felt like a huge leap.
I didn’t make this decision lightly. I had been considering admitting schizophrenia for months and have thought about it nearly daily. I had been living in the shadows only letting parts of me enter
the light before this post. A therapist described me, politely, as a chameleon that could change my colors to make people see whatever I wanted. I think what he was saying is that I was a liar. But, Hell, he also thought I was rapid-cycling bipolar – so maybe he didn’t know me so well.
The supportive response has been a little overwhelming. Thoughtful comments made me feel a lot less isolated. I keep a pretty limited Facebook friend list. Receiving 24 likes and 15 comments is a pretty sizeable amount.
Rumination is my modus operandi so I wonder about the people I didn’t see anything from. I’ve posted before about how I fear the stigmas of mental health. I wonder if I’ve closed a few doors by admitting schizophrenia. I try not to chase rabbits, but this one is worth pursuit: if I closed a door with someone by being honest and authentic, was it a door I want open anyway?
Only my friends can see my feed. I don’t need to worry about potential employers knowing that I’m schizophrenic. Sure, they can’t discriminate based off that, but I’m sure they can find other reasons to not hire me if they wanted. Stigmas will always exist, especially with schizophrenia.
Then something unexpected happened. I was afraid my wife might, in a fashion, be disappointed or ashamed. Instead she said it was relieving to her. She told me that she also felt isolated in my secrecy and that there was no one she could turn to for support. She felt like she always had to put on a happy face and push her emotions deep-deep-down around anyone to protect my decision to hide. She told me she was proud. She truly is an amazing wife and friend. I’m so lucky.
I discover a new way that I’m a fool every day. I thought that hiding my condition made things easier for her. But the opposite was true.
I have no doubt that there will be a few people who are a bit embarrassed. I come from a rural Midwest family and I suspect that my parents might feel this way. But I’ve been learning over the years that it isn’t healthy for me to worry about what they think. Maybe it is bigoted of me, but I don’t expect a lot of understanding from that generation.
This blog remains anonymous though. I didn’t announce this. It sounds a little counterintuitive that anonymity makes my blog more authentic. This is where I try to put my uncensored thoughts. There are two target audiences for this, myself as a personal therapy, and other sufferers (and those that care about a sufferer). If I attached my name to this blog, then my friends and family would become part of my audience and influence what I write.
After Admitting Schizophrenia
The end result of coming out of the crazy closet is a larger support network for me and an ability for my wife to build one for herself.
I’m curious if other schizophrenics are suffering publicly or in the shadows. What is best for you? What do you think is the best way to live? Let’s discuss in the comments.